St David's (1859)

When David Morgan preached at St, David's^ only one convert came forward. '* Well," said he, " perhaps one is quite as much as this church can nurse at present." This proved a fruitful beginning. A little later John Richards, Llechryd, visited them, and one of his converts was a publican, who immediately pulled dow^n his sign, and when Mr. Richards came next a church-meeting was held in the room once desecrated by an altar to Bacchus. In another ^'Society" meeting, the Rev. William Morris rallied some young converts who expressed doubts and fears in relating their experiences. ^^ Don't shake your boat," said he, "and then complain that the sea is rough. If your religious feelings are cooling, take a walk to Gethsemane and Calvary : you will find fire enough that way."
The most notable character among the converts was John Williams, the shoemaker. He was one of three children. They had a godly mother who ceased not to counsel them, and often did she retire to pray for them in an old disused quarry near the house. The eldest, William, was a reckless sailor, who had a record of many hairbreadth escapes on sea, but he always declared he had no fear of drowning as long as his mother was alive. Strange to say, a very short time after her death, he fell overboard and perished. John had an excellent memory, a great gift of speech, and an ardent love for Wales. His memory was saturated in the romance of Welsh history, with which he regaled the frequenters of public-houses in the city till the small hours of the morning. In these associations he learnt to love drink, and ere long he had deteriorated into a degraded drunkard. He now sought to make a livelihood out of fishing, and had many remarkable deliverances from death. On one occasion there was a line of ships in the quay waiting for a fair wind. In a state of intoxication John Williams tumbled out of his boat while seeking to board one of them. He was an expert swimmer, and, sobered by the plunge, he made an effort to come to the surface, but found that he was below the ship's keel. He dived in another direction, but became entangled in some ropes. Freeing himself with difficulty, he shot upwards again to find himself beneath another ship. He now tasted the bitterness of death ; and all his sinful, chequered life flashed in a panorama of scenes before his inner eye. With a last despairing, exhausted effort he blindly dived and rose once more, this time to reach air and life successfully. This narrow escape did not produce a change in his habits. If there was a probable son of perdition within the city it was he; yet in the Eternal Purpose he was a chosen vessel destined for glory. The Lord hedged him in with thorns ; all his children died, and poverty as an armed man overtook him. One day he appeared in the house of God, and then the house of Bacchus knew him no more. It was a memorable occasion when William Morris gave him the right hand of fellowship. The shoemaker pleads his unworthiness, and the old pastor extols the riches of free grace; John Williams exposes his wounds and bruises and putrefying sores while William Morris pours in oil and wine. The audience wept and laughed. This man became forthwith a trenchant temperance orator, and great in prayer. A crowd would gather in the evening around his cottage window, periodically replaced by another, and then another, while he conducted family worship within. Yet they never heard the conclusion of his prayer, and it was popularly believed that he continued all night. He was faithful in all his house. Giving his testimony one evening, he said that the Christian life was a hard struggle to him. "The devil is impudent enough to tempt me still to drink and blaspheme." A deacon expostulated, " Doesn't John Williams give place to the evil one? Why should he blame Satan all the time. The devil never troubles me I " Now William Morris leaps to his feet. " I am old enough," he says, '' to remember the wars of Buonaparte when French privateers attempted to destroy the commerce of London. Those big men-of-war never wasted their powder on limestone luggers, but they would lie in wait for weeks for an East Indiaman with its precious cargo." There was no need to enforce this parable.

From, 'The '59 Revival', by J J Morgan, pages 87-9.

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