Troedrhiwdalar (1840)

1839-43 Finney’s Revival. Thomas Rees’s account:

‘SIR,—In your remarks on the general dearth of revivals of religion in the United Kingdom, on the wrapper of the WITNESS for this month, you intimate that no such thing as a revival has been heard of even in Wales during the last twelve years. It affords me the highest gratification to be now able to inform you that powerful awakenings were felt in North Wales in the years 1839 and 1840, and in South Wales in 1841, 1842, and 1843. The circulation of a translation of Mr Finney’s “Lectures,” by Mr Griffiths, of Swansea, was eminently instrumental, in the hand of God, in promoting that ever-memorable revival.’ (The Christian Witness, vii (1850), p.315, reprinted in Thomas Rees, Miscellaneous Papers Relating to Wales, pp.?)

‘In 1839 the churches in North Wales and the Welsh churches in Liverpool were favoured with a large measure of revival, which in the ensuing three years reached almost every part of South Wales. This differed from all the former revivals in Wales in it's not being accompanied by the usual excitement and noisy manifestation of feeling. That difference led some elderly professors, of a naturally excitable tempera­ment, to question its genuineness. The means also by which it was chiefly promoted the reading and study of “Finney’s Lectures on Revivals,” which gave a less evangelical tone to the ministry, and led the preachers to dwell more on the sins and duties of professors than on such melting themes as the love of God, the death of Christ, and the privileges of believers, caused some good people to suspect that there was more of man than of God in the movement. But the good and lasting effects which have followed it prove beyond question that the hand of the Lord was in the work. The converts amounted to many thousands, but we are not able to state the exact number.’ (HPNW pp.429-30)

Lewis Morris’s quote: ‘great additions to the churches in Meirionethshire in the years 1839-40’ (source ????, see DCC p.348) ‘REV. SIR,

YOUR letter came to hand safely on the 20th of September, and in accordance with your desire I shall endeavour to give you the outline of an account of the revivals. In relation to the state of the church before the revivals, I/we [??] had been working hard for total abstinence, and was to some degree successful, but had not gone as far as making a test of membership. It created an evident reformation in the morals of the young people. The Sabbath School at Troedrhiwdalar and Beulah were flourishing. Last winter there was a deep feeling among the most prominent members concerning the members of the Sabbath School and the sinners of the region in general, and they were most earnest in prayer on their behalf. I/we called them together many times, and some of the members and I revealed to them our feelings concerning them, pressing upon them the danger of their condition, exhorting them and praying for them. Respecting myself, as a poor and unworthy minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have tended to preach as pointedly as I can, from text such as the following: - ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.’ [Heb. 12:25] ‘Because there is wrath, beware’ [Job 36:18] ‘But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them,’ [Luke 19:27] &c., so that many consider my ministry too legal. About this time the Rev. W. Williams, Llandeilo, called at Troedrhiwdalar, and a revival meeting was held that evening which left a deep impression on the congregation, and between ten and fifteen joined the church, the greater part of whom were children of professors, and of good moral life. After that my son James, from Pembrokeshire, visited us for two Sabbaths. The revival had already begun in his churches before he set out, and thus he was full of revival fire. There was considerable feeling in the neighbourhood by this time. I shall never forget Sunday the 9th of August, and I shall not cease praising the Lord for it whilst humbled in the dust. My two sons, Morgan and James, preached in Beulah, and there was something out of the ordinary. I went that night to the border of the mountains, to a house called Ty’nydwr, and the house was full. Brother Rev. Samuel Price, Llanedi, began the meeting by reading and praying. He prayed with remarkable earnestness and did not give up the throne until his strength failed him. Some amazing influence went through the place, and the greater part of the congregation wept quietly. When I was preaching on the immortality of the soul, there was something most solemn upon my mind, but the influence was not visible upon the congregation. Having finished I gave out the following hymn to be sung: -

When I think of appearing

In the coming day of judgment

There is a question in my spirit

Who will go to the left hand or to the right, &c. As the last part of the hymn was sung one of the young people, who had recently joined the church, with deep feeling shouted out loudly, ‘O my dear life! Thanks be for freeing me.’ In less than five minutes the congregation was altogether a flood of tears, some crying out for mercy, others praising God. The influences spread like wildfire throughout the place. Praise be to Jehovah’s name for that outpouring of the Spirit. From that time to the present the kingdom of the Saviour has advanced most wonderfully in our neighbourhood. We received sixteen to the first fellowship after the start of the revival, and in the second week, the 23rd August 1840, and from then until now close on two hundred, of every age, from the child of twelve to the grey-headed old man. They wept, crying out for mercy, and praise the Lord by the score, and that for hours together, which had an uncommon influence on the congregation. They gathered together by the hundred for the prayer meetings. The last Sabbath was a communion Sabbath at Troedrhiwdalar, and it was thought by those most fit to judge that there were at least three thousand present. They generally came together from over ten miles around, and the chapel could only contain a small portion of them, they filled the graveyard as well. Hopefully, the Lord’s hand will rest on this mountain. But though I have said this I quake lest some evil consequence follow, and the enemy come in like a flood, as in the time of President Edwards, New England. My earnest prayer is that the Lord uphold them with his Almighty arm until the end and that they will be useful in Christ’s vineyard, when many of us sleep quietly in the dust of the grave.

‘Dear Sir, as this is the last time I will perhaps have opportunity to write to you I shall give you a little of my religious experience. Since the year 1835 my health has been most unsettled, and my frame out of order. I am almost sixty-two, and my journey in this wilderness world is about to end. The first year of my illness, when my body was particularly weak, I had such close fellowship with the Lord that I longed to leave this present life. The only thing that worried me at that time was my family, my wife and children. When I grew stronger and came to enjoy better health, and my evil heart forsook God, which often made me cry out, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ [Rom. 7:25] That which I desire is to live in greater fellowship with God so that I will be riper for glory. My mind was struck one day recently with the question, why must a Christian fear death? A Christian, not a pagan! A Christian, not a Mahometan! A Christian, who rests his soul upon the Mediator, who has said, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ [Matt. 11:28]’

[David Avan Griffith, Cofiant y Diweddar Barch. David Williams, Troedrhiwdalar, Llandilo 1877, pp.119-121] (Griffith, Cofiant David Williams, Troedrhiwdalar, pp.112-23]

‘In the first visit of Mr Williams to Liverpool, in the year 1840, his ministry was under some great influence in the place, and his spirit was won to the spirit of the revival to a great degree, so that the form of his countenance was changed, and it could have been thought of him that he was not a man but an angel of God. Having come to our house, with the greatest earnestness he related what his feeling were when on the road from Llanidloes to Troedrhiwdalar. When he as on the hills of St Harmon he asked himself, ‘O, have I still got the spirit of the revival?’ and on the mountain of Rhos Saith Maen, ‘O, have I lost the spirit of the revival? Is it coming with me to South Wales?’ When he came to the chapel the hearers were very numerous, as every time they went to hear Mr Williams. When the address came his mind was sober, and his appearance earnest, is message important, and the hearers were as if hanging on his lips. That meeting made a special impression on the minds of the congregation; and as a result of it, after a few weeks, a remarkable revival broke out in the region, so that hundreds were added to the church, and many testified that that evening they came to decide to join the church of God.’ [HEAC iv, 375] This preacher was only twenty-eight years old at the time, and died six years later when he was only thirty-four. The church in that place received 123 one Sabbath morning. And it is said that this revival was one of the most powerful revivals that that church experienced in any age. [HEAC iv, 374]

This information was kindly provided by Geraint Jones

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