Henllan (1850-1853)

1850-3 Henllan, Carmarthenshire. Started in September 1850 shortly before the death of John Lloyd:

‘“October 3, 1859.

“HENLLAN.—DEAR SIR,—The Lord has not been pleased to visit us with those rare and powerful influences that some churches in the principality have lately enjoyed. But we are cheered by indications that the way of the Lord is prepared, and that ‘the Lord whom we seek shall suddenly come to his temple.’

“Before I can give you an intelligible account of the present Spiritual state of the Church at Henllan, I must be permitted to refer briefly to two preceding Revivals, as it is, in a great measure, their combined results.

“The first to which I allude occurred in the year 1840...

“In the year 1850, the undercurrents suddenly and spontaneously burst forth. It overwhelmed the Church and the neighbourhood. It was altogether a different type from the former Revival. Different in its inward and outward characteristic., The extremes of the former movement were avoided. No new organizations were formed; no Revival meetings were held; no means to excite the sensational and social feelings were employed. The tendency to make a public profession of religion was not encouraged; but the genuine conversion of souls was sought with an ardour and earnestness, I had not witnessed before. Minds were moved by a pure spiritual idea. It was comprehensive and profound; viz., the characteristics and capabilities of the Christian consciousness.

“The affections, principles, dispositions, and practices that distinguish the believer from the unbeliever—the sources and dangers of selfdeception—the tests by which the genuine is to be distinguished from the false in religion—the grounds and degrees of satisfaction which every believer possesses of his reconciliation with God­—the degree of purity and spiritual power he may attain—the influences of the Holy Spirit, the degrees in which they are bestowed, and the channels through which they are communicated, were subjects of earnest and prayerful investigation. In a word, the Christian­ character, in its essence and highest developments.

“Many of those that were at ease in Zion, trusting in the Mountain of Samaria, were awakened to a sense of their danger. ‘They proved their own selves’ by the test of God’s Word, and instead of being ‘fine gold,’ found they were base meta—weighed themselves in the scales of the sanctuary and were found wanting—examined the foundation of their hopes and found it was sand. The edifice was pulled down, the foundation dug up. They commenced anew, and built upon the rock. Many more found that much of the materials with which they had built was wood, hay, and stubble, though the foundation was solid.

“Those that cordially adopted those views and sentiments, were bound together by new and strong sympathies. They experienced sorrows, joys, and consolations to which they were heretofore strangers. They felt a new life working within them. In a sense, they became morally isolated from the rest of the church. They formed a church within a church. There were, however, latent elements of selfishness at work, and the harmony was broken. They became subject to the law that governs every group of minds that are attracted by a great truth, and revolve around one principle—they were divided into three classes, which, for the sake of distinction, I will call the genuine, the mixed, and the spurious.

“The term spurious may be too severe— it may convey to the reader more than I mean. I shall therefore, in a few words, endeavour to describe the class. I mean those that pervert, misapply and carry into absurd and dangerous extremes, the holy doctrines and principles they profess. I have seen melancholy instances of this tendency, and my picture of the Revival will not be com­plete if this dark group shall be omitted. You will see in them the assurance of God’s favour allied with arrogance; holiness without beauty, because disfigured by a selfish severity; the sacred sense of duty enfeebled by perverted views of grace; the ennobling influences of the Holy Spirit confounded with fantastic impressions and wild impulses; passages, texts, and words of Scripture striking the mind in a peculiar manner, and with a peculiar force, regarded as immediate revelation of God’s will. Sometimes they fancied themselves favoured with the knowledge of the future, but every prediction proved a failure, and every failure seemed only to confirm them in their delusion.

“And as they had no sympathy with the spirit of the church, they detached themselves from its communion. Of the state of their hearts towards God, I pronounce no judgment: Many causes unknown to us, arising from a peculiar mental structure or defective education, may lead to such results. The ‘incorruptible seed’ may be sown in a soil unfavourable to a healthy and vigorous growth.

“This Revival, for several months, was almost exclusively confined within the church—Conversion and Revival of professors were aimed at. It gradually expanded. The spiritual state of the hearers pressed heavily on the hearts of some. The young were made special subjects of prayer. The spirit was more profound, more earnest, than in the former Revival. It was not indebted to any artificial means. The minister was greatly encouraged by the impression produced by his sermons on the hearers. God was sought, and not sought in vain. Zion was made the joyful mother of children. I am not wrong when I say that the average of five a month were admitted to the church, during the space of two years and a half; viz., 150 were added to the church during that period.

“The two Revivals differed widely in their characteris­tics, but not less in their results. In the former, thought was not awakened, the spirit of error was not called forth out of its lurking places. With the latter, it was the reverse—mind was moved. And am I wrong in saying that whenever the ‘fallow ground of the human mind is broken up,’ when the ploughshare of truth cuts deep furrows, the latent seeds of error are brought to the surface? Does not all history prove it?

“I cannot say of the moral and spiritual results of the latter Revival as I have done of the former. If it has produced more weeds, it has produced more precious fruits also. The social and moral character of the neighbourhood I believe has been sensibly improved, and the spiritual tone of the church elevated. It has given rise to prejudices, especially in those I have called the ‘mixed classes,’ that I should be very happy to see removed, because they put one’s patience occasionally to severe tests; but they are prejudices that envelope precious principles, and I would not crush the grain in rudely removing the chaff.

“Both had their excellences and defects. The latter, if deeper than the former, was too exclusive; its spirit was too severe, and not being tempered with charity, it often bordered on censoriousness. If we erred in the former, by relying too much on social organizations, in the latter we ran into another extreme by avoiding Scylla, we rushed into Charybdis. In neither was the whole man acted upon—the spiritual, moral, intellectual, and social elements of his nature. [In the year 1850, just as the Revival broke out, my venerable colleague, the Rev. Mr Lloyd, was removed from us, just at the time when we thought that his experience, wisdom, piety, and influence were necessary to guide the movement.]

“We hopefully look for another development. We pray for it and humbly hope that God will grant development that will combine the excellences of the former two without their defects. At least we aim at it and proceed in the belief that God will give his Church a Revival of the. character it asks. Perhaps I may be mistaken, but I have reason to hope that such a Revival is in the bud.

“We have admitted great numbers of the young to church communion this year. The right hand of fellowship was given to twenty on the same Sunday.

“A Revival prayer-meeting is held once a week, and one every Sunday morning. They are not numerously attended, but the idea and the spirit of prayer are kept alive.

“When I compare the state of my mind—my fears, hopes, and expectations—the Spirit of the church—the marvellous and mysterious working of Providence, with what I felt—and what occurred, before the Revival of 1850, I am cheered by the hope that God will soon come into his temple.

“I remain, dear sir, yours truly,

“J. Lewis.

P.S.—Another point of difference between the two may be mentioned: The former Revival was general over the principality—it rolled like a wave over the whole land. The latter was local—I believe it was limited to Henllan—the impulse was not felt at Llanboidy, the other church under my pastoral care.

“When I took my pen in hand, I intended saying a few words on the general character of the present Revival in South Wales, its characteristics, excellences, and defects, with their causes, but I am afraid I have trespassed too long on the reader’s patience.”’ (Davies, Revivals in Wales, pp.23-8; HEAC iii. 345, 363-5; v. 318)

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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