Tabernacle Calvinistic Methodist (Welsh) Chapel - Cwmavon (1905)

The concluding meetings in connection with Mr Evan Robert’s visit to the Avon Valley were held at Cwmavon today. Meetings were again held at Penuel in the afternoon and at Tabernacle Chapel in the evening. There were 2,000 people present. In addition to Welsh people, there was present an exceptionally large contingent of representatives of many nationalities, and it is doubtful whether even Mr Roberts, with all his marvellous experiences, has had such a cosmopolitan audience to address – a Chicago journalist here, an Italian clergyman there, in addition to Frenchmen, Germans, Dutchmen, and what not. Every other man one would meet in the big seat was a foreigner, and one could not fail to note with peculiar interest the varying types of peoples of all countries in the meeting. It was a wonderful meeting, apart from its cosmopolitan character, and there was an exceptional ring even in the more formal parts of the service. A particularly striking testimony would call forth singing or praying, and the recital of a favourite stanza was invariably followed by its rendering in song on the part of the whole congregation, whilst hymns were several times followed instantly by prayer and testimonies. One of those strange “waves of prayer” then came over the meeting and above all the noise could be heard the voice of a woman, who, with uplifted hands, prayed with great fervency. “I am going to teach you a new song,” remarked a minister, and he sang in a racy style a song, entitled, “The Railroad to Glory,” some of its expressive lines calling forth loud and hearty expressions of approval, the people joining in the chorus with much fervour: For the up-line to glory is clear, I am in the express for the Kingdom, And bound to land safely up there. The windows are labelled “No smoking,” No drinking allowed in this train, evoked a chorus of “Amens,” as also did the line stating that sin was the only “lost luggage.” “Who is in the train?” queried the Rev. D. Jones, and there were replies from all quarters. “I am in the train,” “I am another.” “Have you got that certainty?” he again asked, and then came a volume of replies in the affirmative. Mr Roberts, who was accompanied by the Misses Maggie, Annie and Mary Davies, arrived about seven o’clock, and they managed with great difficulty to wend their way to the front. It was now unbearably hot, and Mr Roberts insisted that for the sake of the health of the people it was absolutely necessary that there should be more ventilation. “The battle is fierce,” he remarked, “and we must take care of our bodies.” Someone then smashed some panes, and the evangelist commended this action, remarking that he would rather pay for the damage himself than that the usefulness of the service should be impeded. Whilst the smashing of pane after pane was going on some talking was heard, but Mr Roberts peremptorily put a stop to it. The Spirit, he said, was in their midst, and mightily, too; and in the place, therefore, was too terrible in its holiness for any levity. The Spirit had not drawn together such a concourse of people without a purpose. Some talking was again going on during the smashing of some other window panes, and this brought the evangelist on to his feet. With his countenance bearing evidence of great pain he adjured the people to discontinue the talking. He would have to go out unless they desisted. Too much light talk there had been in God’s house. He then went on to say that at that meeting they should all take care to put self out of sight. “Let no one,” he emphasised, “stand up to show himself or else we may have to ask him to sit down. But mind that whatever you are prompted to do, do it. Remember that this is a message from the Spirit. Don’t think that you can escape, for the Spirit is here.” He then asked whether it was clear that it was to worship that they had come together that evening. Was everything right, too, between them and their fellow-men? A few minutes of absolute silence then followed, Mr Roberts remaining in an attitude of prayer. His face then brightened up wonderfully. “That’s it,” he remarked with a smile. “We can go on now?” And half a word only was necessary. A young lady sang “Dyma gariad” (“Here’s a Love”) as a solo, and the people joined in the refrain. But Mr Roberts stopped the singing – a procedure he never adopts except in unusual circumstances. “No, no,” he exclaimed in almost angry tones, and it was evident by his appearance that he had been deeply stirred by something or other. “Where is the one who smiled, if not laughed, when that young lady was singing?” he asked in wrathful tones. “If the execution was not perfect the sin was.” “God will not be mocked,” he cried, and he then enjoined the guilty ones to pray for mercy. The meeting afterwards proceeded in a most strange manner, almost a weird effect being at times produced as the result of some sections of the congregation taking different lines. Two or three would sometimes sing different solos, and while the people sang the sound of prayer was heard above the singing. Presently Mr Roberts startled the audience by declaring that he had a terrible message to convey to the people. He could proceed no further. He then fell on his knees, crying aloud, and the people were at a loss to know what was the matter. By-and-bye he passionately exclaimed, “There is a soul lost,” and he then went on spasmodically to explain that this soul had been lost owing to the disobedience of someone to the prompting of the Spirit. “Too late; too late!” he cried with great passion, and he broke down over and over again, crying out “Oh, forgive; Lord, forgive!” “Oh, dear people, it is too late, too late; a soul gone.” The congregation was greatly moved, lamentation and wailing resounding through the place, and people falling prostrate and crying out in sympathy with the evangelist. When eventually he could regain his composure he took the unprecedented course of stopping the people from praying. “It is too late; too late,” he again cried in tragic tones, and he then explained that he was being prohibited from praying for the soul that was lost. He then explained that that was the most terrible message he had ever had to deliver. The meeting concluded with the announcement of the conversion of a large number of people, and this rather cheered the now saddened congregation.

From, 'The Western Mail,' 21st February 1905.

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