Howell Harris meets Griffith Jones (1736)

Harriswas so fired up by Holy Spirit that he had to go out and tell people about his Saviour. “The Word was attended with such power, that many on the spot cried out to God for pardon of their sins, making peace with each other, etc., and appeared in concern about their eternal state. Family worship was set up in many houses, and the churches, as far as I had gone were crowded, and likewise the Lord’s Table.” When not preaching or telling people about God, he spent his time reading and praying. In November he went to St Mary’s Hall at Oxford University with a view to becoming a priest, but he came back within a week, “having no taste for the entertainments there.” On his return he went to speak to people house to house until he had visited virtually all in his parish and many in neighbouring ones. In February 1736 his vicar wrote to him, “.since you are advance so far as to have your public lectures from house to house, and even within the limits of the church, it is full time to let you know the sin and penalty you incur by so doing. The office you have freely undertaken belongs not to the laity any farther than privately in their own families….you concluded (at one of his meetings) with a long extemporary prayer, with repetitions, tautologies, etc. Pray consider how odiously this savours of fanaticism and hypocrisy.” This was a typical opinion amongst the clergy of the day; they would not allow anyone speaking in a parish without permission. It was the law and would not be changed for another 150 years. This made Harris curtail his activities as he did not want to break the law. In May he sought the counsel of Griffith Jones (see this website), the great revivalist who had recently started his Circulating Schools to help the poor to read. Whilst there he met Jones’ great backer - Mrs Bevan. As a result of their advice he decided to go for ordination, even though he was not yet of age. He collected all the testimonials he required from clergymen and he went to see the bishop of St David’s. The bishop had heard about his irregular preaching and out of hand refused him ordination.