THE GREAT REVIVAL IN SOUTH WALES IN 1849.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN WITNESS. SIR,—In your remarks on the general dearth of revivals of religion in the United Kingdom, on the wrapper of the WITNESS for this month, you intimate that no such thing as a revival has been heard of even in Wales during the last twelve years. It affords me the highest gratification to be now able to inform you that powerful awakenings were felt in North Wales in the years 1839 and 1840, and in South Wales in 1841, 1842, and 1843. The circulation of a translation of Mr Finney’s “Lectures,” by Mr Griffiths, of Swansea, was eminently instrumental, in the hand of God, in promoting that ever-memorable revival. The intervening period from the end of the year 1843 to the summer of last year was a season of almost universal spiritual declension; but last year most of the churches in the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan, and many in those of Brecon and Carmarthen, were blessed with a most powerful revival.
Some months ago, on the suggestion of my excellent friend, Mr. Joseph Maybery, of Llanelly, I wrote to the ministers of those churches which were most signally blessed with these awakenings, for the numbers added to their churches during the year, intimating my intention of publishing the account in one of the periodicals. The following is a list of as many of the churches as furnished me with the numbers added to them. If you will insert it in the CHRISTIAN WITNESS, it will undoubtedly be pondered over with gratification. by thousands of your pious readers, and will also be transmitted to future generations as a memorial of the gracious dealings of God with our highly privileged nation:-
Churches Numbers added Ministers
in 1849 Mynyddbach 85 J. Davies.
Neath, the two Chapels, about 460 D. Evans, J. Matthews.
Briton Ferry and Skiwen 150 Vacant.
Aberavon, Cwmavon, Rock Chapel 650 D. Evans, Neath, E. Roberts, W. Thomas.
Carmel, Maesteg 185 W. Morgan.
Zoar, ditto 187 Vacant.
Siloh, ditto 130 -------
The foregoing list is, of course, imperfect, as it scarcely contains one-half of the churches which were blessed by the wonderful revival of last year. It is supposed that from 1,200 to 1,500 persons were added to the nine Congregational churches in the parish of Merthyr Tydvil, and at least 1,000 to the churches in Carmarthenshire besides those in the above list, such as Llandovery, Llangadock, Llandilo, Carmarthen, Llanelli, &c.
One very peculiar feature of this wonderful movement was the great numbers of converts who pressed together, at the same time, to the anxious meetings. In some localities meetings for conversing with the awakened were held every evening throughout the week, and sometimes oftener; and from twenty to thirty individuals were examined at each meeting. Mr Hughes, of Dowlais, gave the right hand of fellowship to two hundred and forty persons the same Sabbath morning, on their admission to the Lord’s Supper; and your correspondent had the soul-cheering gratification of doing the same to two hundred and ten on the 28th of October last.
These gracious visitations of the Spirit of God were not confined to the Congregational churches. Some thousands were added to the Baptist churches in the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan, and great numbers joined the Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodist Societies in some localities.
Many good warmhearted old Christians had their doubts of the reality of these movements, because they were not attended by loud cries, promiscuous singing, jumping, &c., as some former revivals were; but the audible groans of hundreds and the floods of tears shed under the preaching of the word, clearly manifested some strong inward feelings, which the eloquence or the schemes of man could not effect; and what is still a more convincing proof that it was a work of the Spirit of God, the thousands of young converts, with comparatively rare exceptions, are walking worthy of their holy profession.
It will be readily acknowledged that the terrible visitation of the Cholera was principally the means of arousing the attention of our hearers to consider seriously the important truths with which they were already theoretically acquainted; but who will venture to deny that the Lord had mercifully ordained this awful scourge as the means of accomplishing his gracious purpose of saving thousands?
The mighty movements are not felt now as they were eight or nine months ago in any place, but things wear a very encouraging aspect. Almost all the churches are peaceful; the attendance on the means of grace is unparalleled in the history of religion amongst us; our youth manifest great thirst for religious knowledge; our Sabbath schools are very flourishing; a number of pious and talented young men are preparing for the ministry; and many of the young ministers who were ordained within the last six years are very active and promising.
The Welsh are now one of the most religious nations on the face of the earth. Nine-tenths of the middle and working classes are either professors of religion or constant attendants on the means of grace. Evangelical religion in Wales has the public opinion decidedly in its favour. But, alas! we are, as a nation, after all, very far from what we ought to be. Sin and Satan are still amongst us, and the time is not yet come for the people of God to take their rest. May the Spirit of the Lord continue to pour his blessings upon us, and may his mighty power be felt amongst the millions of England, and throughout the whole wide world!
I am, Dear Sir,
Yours in the bonds of the Gospel,
Beaufort, near Abergavenny,
May 7, 1850.’
(The Christian Witness, vii (1850), pp.315-6, reprinted in Rees, Miscellaneous Papers, pp.93-6)
‘The year 1849 was a year of singular judgments and mercies to the inhabitants of South Wales. That terrible pestilence, cholera, swept hundreds away in a few weeks, and by the Divine blessing which attended the awful visitation, thousands were brought to think of their ways and turn to the Lord. All the places of worship in the manufacturing districts of the counties of Monmouth and Glamorgan for some months during the summer and autumn were overcrowded. Multitudes who had not been seen at any place of worship during the previous ten or fifteen years, became regular attendants for a time; and though many of them, when the pestilence ceased, returned to their former evil habits, still a large number of that class have been thoroughly changed, and continue to this day to attend the house of God. Most of those who were regular hearers before then joined the churches. No less than 9,139 were added to 67 Independent churches in the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, Brecknock, and Caermarthen, in the course of three or four months. Many feared that an unusual number of relapses would follow this sudden increase, but their fears were not realized to nearly the extent it was apprehended.’ (HPNW p.430)
This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones
Would you please contact us if you know where these meetings took place? I am assuming this is the right church and not the one near Laugharne.