Bryn-engan (1785-1849)

1785 Brynengan. ‘When Robert Roberts, Clynog, was about twenty-three or twenty-four years old, the Lord visited Brynengan with a powerful revival. The gracious rain distilled in great showers on the congregations that gathered together, so that there was a wonderful revival upon every age and rank. the regions echoed with the sound of praise and singing, night and day. And among those that experience a great degree of this revival was Robert Roberts. At this time his spirit was saturated with very powerful stewardships [goruchwyliaethau]; his soul was enflamed with love to Christ, and zeal for the salvation of men.’ [MC ii. 262]

1809 Powerful Revival

1818 Brynengan, Caernarfonshire

Henry Hughes suggests that it was not until 1818 that the revival reached Eifionydd, particularly Brynengan and surrounding districts:

We are inclined to think that in the following year, namely in the year 1818, the revival came in its power to the district of Owen Owens, and to the chapel he went to, namely Brynengan. But when it came, it had the same power at Brynengan as it had at Beddgelert. And he soon came under the wonderful influences – influences that made its mark upon him throughout his life.[1]

Evan Richardson, Caernarfon, used to come to preach at Brynengan on Easter Sunday every year for many years. In 1818 ‘such was the fervour of the congregation, and the spirit of the preacher, that he could hardly give his text before there was one great shout through all the congregation, and the preacher could not say one word more.’[2]Robert Jones, Rhos-lan, mentions that by early 1820 the number of additions to the church at Brynengan had reached one hundred and twenty.[3]

[1]Henry Hughes, Owen Owens, Cors-y-wlad (Dolgellau, 1898), pp. 38-39.

[2]Ibid., p. 41. Easter Sunday was on 22 March in 1818.

[3]DA, pp. 126.


J Elias preaching at Pwllheli Association Sept 16 1831 (RE, Drys. ?,?; personal info Hugh Thomas in DCC p.325-6; Humphrey Prichard quoted in DCC p.326-7; Drys. 1850 p.110; also J E sermon notes)

J Elias preaching at Pwllheli Association Sept 16 1831:

‘This revival started rather differently to any other revival. It was a season of religious indifference, but there came a sudden and unexpected change. That saying is a perfect picture of this period,—’The earth sitteth still, and is at rest,’ but ‘ lo, there was a great earthquake.’ [Zechariah 1:11 & Revelation 6:12] Generally there are signs preceding each revival that the Lord is about to do a great work. That word is a description of the start of every revival generally, ‘Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion, for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.’ [Psalm 102:13,14] Zion is awakened and brought to feel because of the low state of religion, and to pray for its success. Its loved ones are brought to have mercy by seeing its low form and to pray for the salvation of the world. ‘For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.’ [Isaiah 66:8] But this revival came almost as suddenly as a flash of lightning. Where there is an answer to prayer, it can be said,—’I am sought of them that asked not for me: I am found of them that sought me not.’ [Isaiah 65:1] This took place under a sermon of the immemorial John Elias in the Pwllheli Association, at 2 o’ clock, September 16, in the year 1831, on Psalm 68:1:—’Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.’ There was such power agreeing with this sermon, that many thought the earth was quaking. We heard the old brother from Porthmadog,—Hugh Owen ‘Rhendy,—say of this sermon,—’John Elias preached that time in the Pwllheli Association until Caernarvonshire quaked by him and kcqigiyuo31tr8.’ The late Rev. Robert Ellis, Ysgoldy, was present in the meeting; and he has written his recollection of it in his own lively and striking way, and we believe that the reader will be pleased if we insert it here. ‘All eyes were on John Elias,’ said Mr Ellis, ‘when he arose and stood before the congregation, at once he is mastered. At least, as we saw and felt. All eyes were on Elias this time in the Pwllheli Association, when he stood before the great congregation, and read his text deliberately and audibly, awakening the consideration of the crowd that he had a message from God to proclaim, and that he himself felt enlivened from it; and the congregation needed to feel likewise before the end. Is not this always the secret of a successful preacher? When the preacher feels intensely, the hearers need must feel something. I pray thee, are there any notes of this remarkable [sermon] of Elias preserved by any? As far as I can remember, it happened, by applying his text to the present form of the land, with his incomparable eloquence, drawing a dark and grave description of the moral and religious form of the nation; the presumptuous and haughty sinning that was increasing and filling the land, and that in the light of the gospel, and that the evils were flowing outside breaking into the church as a flood, ‘the enemy coming in as a flood,’ and the discipline of the churches too weak to stop it, and because the Lord hid his face from them; and chastising his people because of their spiritual pride and self-sufficiency, leaving them to proceed with his work without his gracious assistance, as suggesting to them, ‘As you can do without me, I will go and return to my place, until you acknowledge your fault and seek my face; go ye as you are: preach, and teach, and succeed.’ Woe to us! said the remarkable preacher, succeed without God! succeed to fill the land with mockers, and the churches with hypocrites! No wonder, therefore, that those who hate him are so bold, and his enemies ask in scorn, ‘Where now is your God?’ So Elias proceeded with his dark description, using stirring sayings, and with his flowing eloquence carrying all before him. By this, here the great congregation had been possessed by a grave sadness, and shut up in darkness that bordered on despair. He asked often to himself, ‘Well, well, what will become of us?’ and the throng groaned under the burden of the message. After this, according to his custom, when his mind was fully stirred, and for striking some truths home, lo the preacher for a moment restrained himself; and everyone felt that

‘His refraining speaking

Was an interval of pleasant eloquence.’

‘Many imagined that his face shone like an angel. Then, raising his hand, and pointing/indicating with his finger, he raised his eyes to heaven, and at the top of his loud clear voice, he shouted, ‘LET GOD ARISE, LET HIS ENEMIES BE SCATTERED, LET THEM ALSO THAT HATE HIM FLEE BEFORE HIM!’ If the earth under the feet of the congregation did not quake, as some thought, Hell quaked! The powers of the world to come were in that speech. Grave feelings and quiet sighs of the thousands were released in the light of hope—ever eye was a fountain of tears—the Amens to the prayer where unnumbered, and the same way the thanks—thanks—thanks, in the face that there was still hope. Then the preacher proceeded further, in some superhuman eloquence, to describe what it was to the church—the world—and his enemies that hate him when God arose. He sought to describe with wondrous eloquence, with the prevailing influence on the great congregation, obliged because we were miserable failures. Eventually, the clear loud voice of the preacher was drowned by the joyful cry of the multitude. This powerful sermon was the means to bring a great number back to the churches at the time. And though the revival did not break out straight away, yet Mr Elias’ sermon was a blessed preparation for it. The religious people of Lleyn and Eifionydd saw and felt that it was necessary for God to give success to his work, and if it has ceased upon earth, it was not so in heaven. And they promised not to give him rest until he arose and had mercy upon Zion.’ It is said that the first to cry out during this remarkable sermon was that old faithful and correct elder, the late Hugh Thomas, Morfa Bychan, and afterwards of Borth, Porthmadog, who was grandfather on his father’s side to that young hopeful minister, the late Rev, H, Parry Thomas (I.) Birkenhead. Hugh Thomas was only a young boy of eighteen at the time, but remarkably wild and inconsiderate. He was, if we remember correctly, working in one of the farmhouses in the parish of Clynog; and it was the custom at that time, when it fell upon some young man to go into the militia to become a soldier, for a number of young boys, to collect amongst themselves a sum of money; and whoever was chosen to find/have the money, and go to wherever that had fallen upon him [?]. Hugh Thomas went to such a place, having received the money; and went to the Pwllheli Association an uncommon GAWR, thinking to GWARIO the money. But under the remarkable sermon he was taken hold of by it,—like a wild donkey when the month has taken hold of it. The grace of God said to him,—”Thus far, and no further.”As this sermon was so remarkable, it will not be uninteresting for the reader to have notes of it, written as it was heard, by an elder from Bwlchderwin of the name of Humphrey Prichard. Here are some of the sections and applications:—”I. That God and his cause have enemies. God’s enemies are enemies of his cause, and enemies of the cause of Christ are enemies of Christ himself,—Cain, Ishmael. All the false-believers of the world and all the unbelievers of the world are God’s enemies. II. God is sometimes as though asleep, withdrawn, and as a stranger in the land. God’s purpose in this is 1. To see what his enemies will do when let loose. 2. To see what his own people will do without him and that they might see their need of him; and also that he might make a name for himself in arising. Having withdrawn himself when his children were persecuted and burnt by all their persecutors and enemies. When the disciples cried out in the storm, Christ arose and soon stilled the sea. III. God has his time to arise and save his people. 1. When his enemies have become very arrogant and boastful in despising him. 2. God will arise when his people cry to him in distress of soul and mind. ‘Now will I arise, for the sighing of the needy.’ [Psalm 12:5]

“Applications.—I. The ark can do nothing except God is with it. This is clearly seen in the Word. The ark without God did not turn back the Jordan and pull down the forts, &c., but God with her. When God withdrew, behold the ark in the hands of the enemies; but when God came to it, lo, Dagon falls, the enemies are destroyed, and Israel is delivered. God would rather go after his ark to the land of the Philistines, than remain with it and adulterous priests bear it. II. God has to a great degree withdrawn from his people in these days. This is clear from a consideration of the presumptuous sins,—the slumbering and backslidden state of Christians of every denomination,—the hardness of those who hear the gospel,—the scarcity of living experience, and men close to God,—and indeed, the worldliness of preachers and pastors of God’s church. These things prove that God has withdrawn. ‘Let God arise.’ III. The duty of every godly man,—all the churches of God,—is to cry earnestly,—to plead irresistibly at the throne of grace that God would arise, in the face of the fact that we can do nothing without him. Nothing will save, or build up Zion, or subdue the enemies of God and his cause until he arise. God has withdrawn; our sins remain; God is as one asleep; we have driven him away and sinned his face away from us. But when God will arise, his ministers will arise; when God will arise, his church will arise; when God will arise, the dead will rise out of their graves, the ungodly will be saved. O! there will be a great change before his presence. As there is a promise let us argue it before the throne of grace. Let God arise. Thou wilt arise. Amen.” Notes of this sermon also a appear in Y Drysorfa, for the month of April 1850, tud. 110, written by the Rev. John Foulkes, Liverpool.

‘One of the first places, if not the first of all, to feel the effects of this sermon and to be touched by this revival was the Brynengan region, as in every revival. As referred to previously, there is hardly any revival since the beginnings of Methodism that this region has not extensively experienced. After referring to it previously in this work, we have come to understand that there was another great revival here, namely the revival of the years 1798-1802. In the biography of Pedr Fardd’s sister, of the name of Margaret Hughes, in Cyfaill, America, who was married to Michael Roberts’ first cousin, namely Robert Hughes, Tuhwnt-I’r-mynydd, it says that she came to the seiat as one of the first in the revival, in the year 1800, in the spring. Her biography was done by her husband, who was, like the whole family, a very gifted and talented man, and was his father’s brother’s uncle to the Rev. J. Michael Hughes, America. It is clear that she was a remarkably godly and virtuous woman. Thus it speaks of her in her biography,—”In her early years she lived next to Brynengan chapel. She was very kind to God’s cause. Many times she would mend shirts during the night for poor preachers on their travels, and sharing with them besides, but she never mentioned that; but there are sufficient witnesses even in America who know of it.” These few sentences speak volumes about this good woman. And we do not ask anyone’s pardon for going a little out of the way in order to bring attention to it.’

1831 Revival in Brynengan. Revival frequently called the ‘Brynengan Revival’. Robert Dafydd, having reached the age of 82, started praying that he might see a revival before he died, and had his desire. He had a remarkable sermon at this time on the text ‘But I will visit you again’ (John 16:22), which shows that this was his whole heart and desire. This was the subject of his private prayers each day for two years. He went to his room each day with this errand in particular. He also had a corner of his garden when he would go and do this. Many times his family and neighbours heard him wrestling with this request with God. He used to name the farmhouses in the neighbourhood in his prayers, and pray that the Lord would save their occupants. “Thou knowest, O Lord, that there are some houses here, where those that worshipped thee have died, and the old family altars have been cast down. O my Father, let me see one more revival before I die; let me see my neighbours in their dozens turn their faces towards thy house, going and weeping; and if I do, I will be content to die the minute thou dost will.” The Lord heard his prayer. He lived to see 140 seeking a place in the house of God in Brynengan. When the first of that number came, Robert Dafydd said, as in a spirit of prophecy, - ‘He is Gad, a multitude is coming.’ He was a young red-headed boy, full of life and mischief. At the beginning of the revival Henry Ress, Shrewsbury at that time preached in Brynengan with energy and vigour. So energetically that his sweat flowed in streams down his cheeks. He paused at times to catch his breath. During one of these pauses the red-headed boy gave an uncommon shout, and the first occasion he had he went to the church meeting. The seiat was held in Brynengan at 11 o’clock on Tuesday. He asked his master’s permission to go. He was the first-fruit of the revival. After this Robert Dafydd prayed ‘O Lord, let me live another year to bring up these children.’ This request was granted his also, and he lived a further two years. He conversed with a great number of these converts and cared for them as if they were his own children. If they exhibited no signs of having been ‘under Sinai’ he was very doubtful about them.’ (DCC pp.327-331; see also Henry Hughes, Robert Dafydd, Brynengan, pp.78-87; MC ii. 152)

Shortly after [Henry Rees meeting] a prayer meeting was held in a house called Pensarn uchaf. A fervent old woman called Mari Rhisiart, Pensarn, and a young girl, a feeble woman and a weak child, could not stop themselves crying out in this meeting. Then, gripping her two sticks, she went out into the open field to meet Morgan Howells, who had been preaching at Brynengan, and collecting for his chapel in Newport. “Here’s your shilling,” she said, “towards bringing the ark its area[?]” The story of the old woman did much to increase Morgan Howells’ collection. The feeling deepened continually until the start of January 1832. Thomas Owen, Llangefni, had been announced to preach there on Sunday 8 January 1832; but someone had made a mistake, and he came at the end of the week. During the prayer meeting that was held in place of the meeting very uncommon rejoicing broke out. A few days later John Peter, Bala, preached there, on the words, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” And such was the fear and trembling that had taken hold of all in the place, one general cry went up, and the preacher could only speak for a few minutes. The revival proceeded through the winter and following spring with great power and spread to all the churches of Eifionydd. (Hughes, Robert Dafydd, Brynengan, pp.82-3)

1848-9 Revival in Lleyn, Eifionydd and Anglesey.



In a Letter from a Friend in Liverpool.

To the office of the ‘Cyfaill,’

by W. Griffith, New York.

20 April 1849

The Lord is at work in Wales these days, in a way beyond the expectation of anyone, even his own people, in various districts of Anglesey and Caernarfonshire. The heavenly fire is spreading continuously—the old waste and desert places blossom as a rose in many places, in places where religion was at a low ebb and has been for almost an age. God by his Spirit is saving scores of people; and those who were trying to keep the house during the long night that has passed cry out with all their heart, like Zacharias of old, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.’

In Lleyn it is a new world—there is a new heaven and a new earth: the old poor dying appearance has passed away, and all things have been made new. There are in Lleyn, besides a general gracious visitation, various young men who show signs that the Lord will use them as stars in his right hand, since they are qualified to be fit ministers of the New Testament. The fire kindled in Rhydlios. In that poor, low and grey place, about 80 have been added to the church. In Penycaerau, Pen-y-graig, and Ty-mawr, and a multitude of places scores have come walking and weeping, with their faces towards Zion. Someplace almost every week receives the promise of the Spirit in Lleyn. It is now starting in Eifionydd. The Rev. John Owen, Gwindy, was here lately and said that before he had left home, 46 had turned their faces towards Zion in Brynengan, and that there were the same effects in other regions in Eifionydd, and that in these days.

Concerning Arfon, I cannot truly say how things are, but I understand that the great work advances there briskly—large numbers being converted in several districts, even though I have not heard that the mighty revival, that has broken out chiefly in Lleyn, and has begun in Eifionydd, has broken out powerfully in Arfon.

I am not as informed about the revival in Anglesey, but I have sufficient assurance that many hundreds in the last few months are showing signs that the Lord has saved them.

Let the world do what it will, this is a subject of unspeakable gladness and rejoicing.

The Lord has not turned his gaze away from the Welsh nation yet. He has indeed done much since the time of Rowland of Llangeitho, and others, for our nation, beyond that of any nation we know of on earth. And what he sees in us more than others, I know not, except that we are more stubborn and perverse than any, and because of this, he is manifesting his grace in us rather more than in any other nation. There is nothing for us to say, but to be amazed and worship, thankfully acknowledging his infinite mercy, love and grace. And the only reason for the difference in his dealings with us, more than the Irish and other nations, is For so it seemed good in his sight.

Dear brother, lift your heads, you and your companions: though the great cause is so low amongst our nation in America, who knows that your deliverance is not at hand. Wait earnestly for this visitation—God is most wonderful.

Yours sincerely,

Samuel Jones

(Y Cyfaill o’r Hen Wlad, xii. (1849), p.252-3; also Y Drys. 1874, p.210)

‘It is considered that this revival started with a sermon of Cadwaladr Owen in a vigil of Hugh Griffith, Bodwrdda, who was an elder in Penycaerau, Lleyn. This took place on December 3, 1848, and his text was Rev. 14:13, - “Blessed are the dead, etc.” Thus it is said in the memoir of Hugh Griffith in the Drysorfa, which was written by Robert Evans, Methlam, an elder in Rhydlios, - “The effectual preaching of the brother on this occasion was in a great part instrumental in starting the religious revival which broke out in the region afterwards, the like of which has not been for 30 years.”’ [DCC p.372]

Revival at Rhydlios. ‘Shortly before the revival the outlook for the cause was bleak. The elders and a few of the brethren felt that they were getting on in years and there was no prospect of anyone to fill their place. The feared that the church would cease completely. This made them a little anxious, and the anxiety gave birth to an intense feeling and an unyielding importunity in prayer at the throne of grace. This is one of the strongest and most positive proofs that God hears the prayer of his people. The region experienced one of the strongest and most powerful visitations at the end of 1848, and throughout the year following.

(MS account of J.W. Hughes, Penygraig, written March 1891 in Rhydlios, Llyn: Trydydd Jiwbili, 1800-1950. Hanes yr Achos, [1950], pp.6-8; see DCC, 371, 373-5). Robert Prichard & Robert Jones, Llanllyfni (Cofiant Robert Jones ?). Also Deunant, Aberdaron [source?] This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

Additional Information

Brynengan Chapel was started around the 1770's and was the only Chapel for the Calvinistic Methodists for miles around. It was a centre for training.

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