Hebron Congregational Chapel - Cymmer (1905)

Mr Evan Roberts opened his mission in the Avon Valley today. The meetings were held at Cymmer, the wise arrangement being made to hold the meetings at Hebron Chapel, the most commodious building in this comparatively small and inaccessible mining village, without any reference to the claims of denominationalism. As usual, in evidence at the afternoon meeting, the attendance including about a score of ministers and clergymen. Mr Roberts was accompanied by Miss Maggie Davies, Miss Annie Davies, and Miss S.A. Jones. A good deal of exceptionally beautiful singing marked the opening stages of the proceedings. An Englishman once seemed to think there was too much singing, and when the people were giving an impressive rendering of “Wrth gofio’i riddfanau’n yr ardd” (“Remembering the agonies of the garden”), he interposed, but Mr Roberts quietly remarked, “Sing on, friends.” The Englishman, however, persisted, and eventually obtained the mastery. “I have come here to see the Saviour,” was his remark. The missioner was at once on his feet. “Did you understand the Welsh hymn, friend?” he queried, and the Englishman replied in the negative. “Well, then,” rejoined Mr Roberts, in a kindly, but firm, tone, “you sit down, please.” “Sing on, friends,” he added to the congregation; “that (referring to the hymn) is the most Divine thing we have.” Mr Roberts had remained seated for some time, but, as faithfully reflecting the feelings of the audience, he rose to speak with a tear-stained face radiant with a smile. “I am afraid,” he remarked – and here a temporary shadow flitted across his face and there was a tone of deep concern in his voice – “that some of you have not a grain of love, whereas you should be one fire. Some of you are speaking. We have not come here to talk. We have come here to worship God and not to play. If you want to play there is plenty of room for you outside.” He then went on to say that in the past it had been the custom to beg of people to engage in prayer, and all sorts of excuses were being given by people as to why they should not take part in services. “Oh, dear people, where is the love?” he asked with much feeling. “If we had love there would be no need to ask us to pray.” Some of them ought to thank God for the manifestation of His infinite patience with them. It had been difficult with him (Mr Roberts) to bear with these people, but he was only a creature, and could only see the surface of things. But what about God, who could see to the very depth? If God were to reveal men’s hearts, it would be hell upon earth. “No man ever prayed so fervently as the Son of God,” he said, referring to Gethsemane. “Was his prayer answered? No. The cup was drunk to the very dregs. If we only had one drop it would be all over with us. Have you seen what was in that cup? Some were still only too prone to ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes; they were to answer this question in the affirmative. They were one with Jesus and must cast their “wing” over others. Had they ever brought anyone to Jesus? “Yes, I have,” responded an old soldier, and he then went on to urge that all would have to given an account of their doings. Mr Roberts subsequently urged upon the people to pray for wisdom, otherwise there was danger. To be filled by the Spirit meant that they were being given greater strength and power, and they needed wisdom to guide them. The simpler, the better the service was. The less of the human element that was evident the better. If they could have a quiet meeting without any noise, man out of sight, the Spirit would work mightily in their midst. Mr Roberts was still speaking when he was interrupted by a man, who said he could not help saying what the Saviour had done for him. He was able to save to the uttermost. This was exemplified by the fact that he, who was one of the worst characters in the place some time ago, had been saved. “We are thankful for these testimonies,” said the missioner, and, as if wishing to please him, “testimonies” were forthcoming from all parts. “Can you say with Williams Pantycelyn,” asked Mr Roberts, “’Jesus, Thou art all sufficient’?” and there was a volume of replies in the affirmative. An old lady recited with simple eloquence the hymn, “Golchwyd Magdalen yn ddysglaer” (“Even Magdalene was cleansed”), and then she applied the words to herself. “If Magdalene was washed may not I?” she remarked. “He has washed you,” remarked the missioner. A grey-haired old lady, with uplifted hands, broke forth into praises. The Rev. D. Jones, pastor of the chapel, when an opportunity present itself “tested” the meeting, remarking that it was impossible for anyone to leave such a meeting as that without accepting salvation, for it had reached a high climax. A number of converts were recorded, and the whole place rang with praise, and it was with the utmost difficulty that the meeting could be brought to a close. Long before the announced time of the evening meeting the chapel was crowded, a considerable section not leaving the edifice, and an overflow meeting was rendered necessary before six o’clock. Some fine singing marked the commencement of the evening meeting. The Rev. Mr Jones remarked that some English friends were anxious to hear an English hymn sung, and then, “Jesu, Lover of my soul, was sung to “Aberystwyth,” and repeated over and over again. One visitor said that the people of London had been praying for Wales, and another stated that the same thing took place at Glasgow, and another at Norwich and all besought the prayers of Welsh people for their places of abode. “What is the difference about the servant? The Master is here,” said one man. Mr Roberts then, evidently referring to this remark, urged that it was not necessary to whisper anybody’s name in a place of worship except that of Jesus. There was no need to speak disparagingly of the servant in order to glorify the Master. He then went on to say that there were obstacles in the meeting. “I prefer not saying it,” he remarked, “but I must say it. Everything is not clear between many present and their God. I have to say this, for unless I did so I would be turned aside as a disobedient servant.” With a troubled expression on his expressive countenance, he besought the people to make peace between themselves and their God. After a brief interval, his face brightened as he announced that the obstacles were being removed. “There is another obstacles,” was his remark. “Come, quick, friends,” he pleaded. After about ten minutes he again explained that the obstacles were being removed, but still there were some, and he asked the people to pray. Presently, with a tone of triumph and his face radiant, he announced that all the obstacles had been removed, and he asked the people to give praise in song, and “Duw mawr y rhyfeddodau maith” (“Great God of countless wonders”(was sung with great fervour). And then the missioner asked for prayers, which were forthcoming; but for a brief while there seemed to be a slight coldness, and this brought the evangelist to his feet, stating that it would be better if some of the people were outside, and if they persisted in their disobedience he would have to point them out. “God works wonders,” he remarked, “and I have to do strange things, and if I have to ask someone to leave, however unpalatable a duty it might be, I will have to do it.” But the meeting soon improved marvellously. Testimonies were forthcoming from all parts. Miss Annie Davies prayed passionately, whilst Miss S. A. Jones delivered a few telling remarks. A minister said that a strange feeling of wrath against the Evil One had entered his heart that night – a feeling which he had never experienced before. Mr Roberts took an evidently intense interest in the man’s remarks and said that he had experienced the same thing, but the man referred to might depend upon it that, having then declared battle against the Evil One, he would have to suffer for it. God would even hide His face from him – but only to try his faith. But he should always remember His promise, “I will be with you always.” This was as a two-edged sword, and he (Mr Roberts) did not know what he would have done without it. The recording of converts brought the meeting to a close, and a wonderful meeting it was.

From, 'The Western Mail', 17th February 1905.

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