Revival

Revival[A]

Emyr Roberts

REVIVAL is probably more remote from the thinking of the churches today than it has been since the beginning of Nonconformity in our land, and certainly since the Methodist Revival of over two centuries ago.[A] When at the end of October 1904, with the fire of revival in his heart, Evan Roberts felt compelled to leave the preparatory school in Castellnewydd Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, to hold revival meetings in his home town of Casllwchwr in Glamorgan, Evan Phillips the minister, who had celebrated his seventy- fifth birthday the previous week and well remembered the 1859 Revival, recognized the Spirit in the young student and advised him to go. One wonders what advice he would be given today, were he a student under the same spiritual compulsion. Some of the leaders of the 1904 Revival, such as Joseph Jenkins and W. W. Lewis, had been under the tuition of men like Thomas Charles Edwards in Aberystwyth and John Harris Jones in Trefeca, of whom the former had been profoundly affected by the '59 Revival, and the latter a leader in that same Revival. An elder in Caernarfon said in a united prayer meeting in 1904 that he was sure that revival was on the way because he well knew the signs, having experienced the 1859 Revival at the age of twenty-seven. Today, however, there are very few people indeed who are old enough to remember the 1904 Revival. We really need to be reminded of the dimension of revival; it is a concept which is becoming more and more alien to our whole way of thinking.

Is it necessary here to define the term 'revival'? Anyone who knows what it is to be spiritually awakened, to be made aware of the reality of God and the corruption of his own heart, to taste the forgiveness of sins and the miracle of the new birth, has a key to what happens in revival. Revival is the conviction and conversion of a great number of people, taking place contemporaneously, publicly, and very often dramatically, to the great increase and expansion of the Church. There is no fundamental, qualitative difference between the work of the Spirit in the case of one individual and the work of the Spirit in that which we call revival, but only a difference of degree. Both are the work of the same Spirit of God; both are equally miraculous and supernatural, like the mystery of the wind which 'bloweth where it listeth'. And what people cannot understand they are disposed to criticize and oppose.

It is not surprising, therefore, that revivals have had to be defended against their denigrators: the great Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, William Williams of Pantycelyn, Robert Jones of Rhos-lan—men who lived in times of revival and were instruments of revival—had to defend the work against its opponents and detractors. Let us look at some of these criticisms.

The shop is always open

To some, religious revival is an irrelevance because of their view of the Church. Mr. Saunders Lewis has observed, a little mischievously perhaps, that Nonconformity has lived on revivals. This is quite true in a real sense. Our view of revival depends on our view of the Church. The Catholic view is that the Church is essentially an institution—a religious, a divine institution, but an institution not wholly unlike institutions such as the Law or Medicine. Just as these institutions have the resources and provision for your particular needs, so has the Church. She has in her possession, or at her call, everything you need: the time-hallowed forms to worship God, the medicine of the soul in the sacraments, and help in her services to pacify your restlessness, to dispel your anxieties, to uplift your spirit. All the means and resources are there, and at her call. In this sense the Church exists independently of the congregation: if nobody calls, the shop is always open.

As a religious institution the Church also becomes a social and cultural establishment, a bond across the centuries, a reliquary of a people's traditions. Sometimes it becomes the classical expression of a people's identity, as, for instance, the Orthodox Church once was in Russia, or as the Roman Church inclines to be today in Poland and perhaps in Ireland. Let us admit that the Welsh chapel today tends to belong to the same category: it is an essentially Welsh institution, an assertion of our national and cultural identity; indeed, it is so much an integral part of the Welsh way of life that even some of our professing agnostics and atheists still 'belong' to their chapel.

It goes without saying that there is no room for revival in this interpretation of the Church. An institution has no relish for commotion and ferment: it would rather have constancy and stability. To this concept of the Church revival is literally irrelevant, and indeed injurious. When revival has come in the past, and the Church as an institution has found herself unable to tame or control it, she has set her face against it. This is what the Roman Church did to the revival movements in the Middle Ages, and the Anglican Church to the Puritan and Methodist movements.

On the other hand, if we think of the Church as a community of people brought into being by the reviving influences of the Spirit and the Word—in other words, a community of believers—then revival, by definition, is the very principle of her life. The power that brings to life is the power that sustains life. The Church as a body of believers stands in continuous need of the reviving Spirit of God. As a people quickened and made spiritually alive, the very secret of her survival is that the same Spirit of life continues to breathe on her and through her. This has always been so. Even in the Middle Ages, when the Church as an institution was at its strongest, these spiritual breezes breathed upon choice individuals. As they blew here and there in Europe, they brought into being companies of believers such as the Lollards in England, the Waldensians in Italy, the Albigensians in France, and many movements in Central and Eastern Europe. These movements at their beginnings were most often biblical and evangelical, even though some of them later inclined to heterodoxy and error. Since the Protestant Reformation, however, when the Word of God was set free, there has scarcely been a time when the breezes of revival have not been felt to some degree in various parts of the world and, up to the beginning of this century, in Wales most of all. During the period subsequent to the great Methodist Revival of the eighteenth century — between 1785 and the beginning of this century — Gomer M. Roberts has counted no less than sixteen periods of revival in Wales.

A scandal to Christianity?

But apart from this general criticism of revival, which derives from a particular concept of the Church, there are criticisms from other directions. There are those who find in it nothing truly valuable, but regard it as merely a manifestation of crowd hysteria. Peter Price, the most vocal contemporary critic of the 1904 Revival, saw in it nothing but tumult and noise, play-acting and imitation. William Sargant would probably be inclined to see in the excitement of revival times nothing but psychological reflexes to particular stimuli. Then there are many who believe that the definitive criterion of true religion is seemliness and good order, and who abhor any suggestion of extremes of emotion and affections. Such people cannot but be offended by the ferment and untidiness of revival times.

Let us look at some specific examples of 'excesses' during revival periods. What would our reaction be to such 'excesses', I wonder?

At Dinas in Llyn, when what is called the Llangeitho Revival reached Caernarfonshire, a religious meeting continued for three days and nights. This was probably one of the instances of religious intemperance that prompted Thomas Morgan, a Glamorganshire man, who had himself been converted under the ministry of Howel Harris and was at that time a nonconformist minister in the West Riding, but had close connections through his wife with Pwllheli, to give as his sober verdict in a letter dated 13 March 1764:

It appears to all true and serious Christians that they [i.e. the Methodists] are stark mad, and given to a spirit of delusion, to the great disgrace and scandal of Christianity.

George Whitefield, writing to John Cennick, describes how people in Glasgow in June 1742 'by three o'clock this morning were coming to hear the word of God', and how in Cambuslang within a few days William M'Culloch the minister 'preached after I had done till past one in the morning, and then could not persuade the people to depart. In the fields, all night, might be heard the voice of prayer and praise.'

Tomos Elis of Llanystumdwy in Caernarfonshire describes how one Sunday night during the 1859 Revival, as he journeyed home through the villages of Snowdonia, he could hear the sound of prayer and praise along the roads and in the fields from place to place.

Robert Ellis of Ysgoldy in Caernarfonshire relates how a group of men harvesting hay during the Beddgelert Revival of 1817 suddenly threw their rakes in the air, dancing and jumping for joy, after having begun to sing the Welsh hymn:

Mae'r lesu oll yn hawddgar, 

Ydyw'n wir;

Mae'n well na phethau'r ddaear,

Ydyw'n wir;

Enillodd Ef fy nghalon;

Ffarwel, eilunod mudion,

Mae gwedd ei wyneb tirion,

Ydyw'n wir,

Yn foroedd o gysuron,

Ydyw'n wir.


He's altogether lovely,

Yes, 'tis true;

Than all the world more worthy,

Yes, 'tis true;

Then fare ye well, dumb idols!

My heart is won by Jesus,

His face so fair and gracious,

Yes, 'tis true,

An ocean wide of comforts,

Yes, 'tis true.

Trans. Edmund T. Owen


E. Morgan Humphreys, the doyen of Welsh journalism in his day, gives an eyewitness account of a revival meeting at Anfield Road Chapel, Liverpool, in the spring of 1905: the crowds were pressing against the chapel doors, trying to push their way in, and elderly ladies were climbing over the railings to get to the door and, falling on the others, were being thrown inside by the police like sacks of flour.

The poorer language

We could multiply ad infinitum such instances of people crowding together and losing their heads in what appears to be sheer religious madness, and we cannot but ask whether there is any difference between this and the frenzies and ecstasies which we associate with the rock and pop groups of our day. On one level there is certainly very little difference. Very probably the immediate sensations, the physical sensibilities and the conscious nervous impressions are very much alike in both. I found light on this in a sermon by C.S. Lewis entitled 'Transposition' [in Screwtape Proposes a Toast (Fontana, 1965)]. The tongues phenomenon on the day of Pentecost, he says, might have appeared to an onlooker as nothing but an expression of nervous excitement or hysteria. Then he observes that to express the spiritual through the natural is like translating from a richer to a poorer language. In the poorer language you have to use the same word to express more than one meaning; and it is the same when you try to express the richer world of the spirit through the poorer medium of our physical frame. We have only laughter to express the most ribald revelry and the most godly joy: we have only tears to express the most selfish and worldly grief and the most godly sorrow. Therefore we must not be unduly surprised that spiritual rejoicings are so similar in their manifestations to rejoicings of a very different kind.

Those who criticize revival for what they call its extremes of emotion may well reflect on what we read in the New Testament:

And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

In whom . . . ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

It is in words such as these that the apostles of Christ describe the early Christians. And the apostles take it for granted that what they themselves knew of these spiritual experiences, their readers, the ordinary members of the young churches, also knew. People who do not like revivals cannot much like the New Testament.

Dangers and perils

It is quite true that the emotions kindled in revival are not pure, unmixed spiritual experiences. To quote William Williams of Pantycelyn, who is surely our best authority on revival[B]:

When our soul came to taste the feasts of Heaven, the flesh also insisted on having its share, and all the passions of nature aroused by grace were rioting tumultuously.

And this at the high tide of the Methodist Revival, of which none can deny that the very powers of the world to come were gloriously at work!

The sublimity of emotions experienced in revivals is illustrated in these words of the Reverend J. T. Job, a minister in Bethesda, Caernarfonshire, at the time of the 1904 Revival:

One thing I know: 'Thursday night, December the 22nd, 1904' will be inscribed in letters of fire in my heart for ever! Now, don't ask me to describe what I felt that night —I can never do it! I can say this: I felt the Holy Spirit like a torrent of light causing my whole nature to shake; I saw Jesus Christ—and my nature melted at His feet; and I saw myself —and I abhorred it! And what more can I say? I can only hope that I am not deceiving myself. But O! the Love of God in the Death of the Cross is exceedingly powerful! I have done nothing since Thursday night but sing to myself that hymn, 'O! anfeidrol rym y Cariad!' &c. ['O! the infinite power of His Love!'] And today I feel that I belong to everybody. O! how the Love of Christ expands a man's heart!

The critic will claim that this elevated emotional state cannot last. This is generally true. One can hardly live continuously in this fever of exaltation. These experiences are the Delectable Mountains from whose heights we are given a glimpse of Mount Zion: we have to walk generally by faith and not by sight. But on our pilgrimage it is no small thing to catch a glimpse of the beauties of the Heavenly City and to know a foretaste of its felicity and bliss. That we can come down from this height of emotion, and in losing our first joy be tempted to slide back into a worldly spirit, is evident from the many warnings to Christians in the New Testament. We infer that this must have happened even amongst those first Christians. But yet, none can deny that on the pages of the New Testament there is a new quality of life, a new humanity indeed.

It is also true that revival does not abolish at once all the defects of our human nature. The criticism is sometimes made that spiritual awakening is inclined to induce a controversial and opinionated spirit. So it must have been in the New Testament, for we find these early Christians being exhorted against this very thing: 'Foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.' Jonathan Edwards observes that the Corinthian Church, left to itself, would have torn itself to pieces, but yet there was a true work of the Spirit there. The apostle greets them as a 'church of God . . . sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints'.

Revival, like conversion, can sometimes induce spiritual pride. In the flush of the great eighteenth-century revival, William Williams warns against this, speaking of a 'raw youth whom no one would entrust to shepherd his sheep, who is today riding high in a boldness of spirit much superior to old ministers who have borne the burden and heat of the day'. Paul warns against appointing a novice in the faith to office in the church, 'lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.' This pride often takes the form of criticizing others for what appears to the new convert to be lukewarmness. In one who has just been swept off his feet in conversion, and has no criterion except his new-found experience against which to evaluate Christian character, this is a failing which can be expected and understood.

These failings, and many others, are the inevitable weaknesses of our sinful human nature. Revival does not perfect saints in a day, any more than conversion does. Jonathan Edwards rightly observes that it is not the work of revival to cultivate moderation and forbearance, but rather to convince and convert, to wake up the drowsy and to quicken the spiritually dead and bring them to God. The cultivation of Christian virtues and the building of sound and sane Christian character is the work, under the blessing of God, of the pastor and teacher.[C]

The fruits of revival

But, having admitted that there are all these dangers and perils in revival, it still remains true that the very survival of the Church as a body of believers depends utterly on this reviving and life-giving work of the Spirit. Without this reviving work in our hearts, though we have everything else—Christian knowledge and discipline, theological understanding and Bible knowledge—there will be no spiritual life in us. Christian leaders of the past believed implicitly that but for the mercy of God in personal revival and church revival there could only be, at best, a dead orthodoxy which would inevitably degenerate into a shallow form of religion utterly lacking in intellectual conviction. One could argue that, generally speaking, the churches in Wales today are drawing perilously close to such a condition. But however serious our declension may be, we may well ponder how much of the Christian Church would remain in our land at all today were it not for the revivals of religion in the past.

Let us consider some of the results of past revivals. There are first of all the great preachers converted during periods of revival. It is said that there were a hundred preachers at the funeral of Daniel Rowland of Llangeitho in October 1790— some of the fruit of the great eighteenth-century revival. Then, from generation to generation, we have such men as Robert Roberts of Clynnog, Christmas Evans, John Elias, John Jones of Tal-y-sarn and David Jones his brother, Thomas John of Cilgerran, John Evans of Eglwys-bach, and Thomas Charles Edwards. These men were all products of revivals: a noble chain of witnesses stretching to the threshold of the revival in the opening years of our present century, of which revival Sidney Evans remarks that it safeguarded the ministry for a whole generation.

Then consider the bare statistics of converts in the revivals. To us in our dispirited condition they sound unbelievable. The 1859 Revival claimed a million converts in America, and a further million in the British Isles, 110,000 of these in Wales alone—a substantial proportion of the one and a quarter million population at the time. During 1882-3, in the revival associated with the name of Richard Owen, there were 1,500 souls added to the churches in South Caernarfonshire, and when the same man came to Denbigh in January 1884, 430 people were added to the churches in the town alone, and many others in the surrounding district. In the last revival, the churches in Rhos, near Wrexham, counted 2,267 converts by the beginning of March 1905. In Anglesey, during the same revival, 2,000 persons were added to the churches, and the number of converts throughout Wales was in the region of 100,000. To our ears these numbers sound staggering, but the truth is that the extraordinary spiritual influences during revivals bring about more results in one week than does a lifetime of labour by dedicated men in ordinary times. And we have to remember the well-known observation that when one person is gained to the Church, it often means the winning of a whole family. How many families who belong to the Church today would be there at all, were it not for the fact that some near or distant ancestor was won to Christianity in a past revival?

Supernatural powers

We must be clear in our minds that revival and what we call an evangelistic crusade are very different things. In revival the supernatural element is uppermost, and the human instruments and activities much less important. The agents of revival are seldom particularly gifted or talented. Dafydd Morgan, so prominent in the 1859 Revival, was a man of great humanity and strong character, but Principal T. C. Edwards, himself deeply influenced in 'Dafydd Morgan's Revival', thus describes the revivalist: 'Before he emerged as a revivalist, Dafydd Morgan was considered an insignificant preacher; and when the tide had ebbed again, the old vessel lay for years on the beach.' Again, Richard Owen was reproached by persons in his own church when he expressed his desire to enter the ministry. What possible qualifications could such a man have, who had only two books in his possession, the Bible and Thomas Charles' catechism? John Williams, Brynsiencyn, says of him that there was scarcely a person of influence in the whole of Anglesey who was warm in his favour, and that many felt it would be a great mistake for this man to enter the pulpit. Then we can think of the last revival, and of all the talent in the Welsh pulpit at the beginning of this century, all its able and learned men; and yet the instrument of the revival was a young collier and blacksmith, who had had only a few weeks in the preparatory school of John Phillips in Castellnewydd Emlyn!

We must also remember that the supernatural spiritual powers rested on leaders of revivals only in one period, or a few periods, of their lives. The Holy Spirit was not at their beck and call. How foolish it is for a man, or a committee of men, to talk and plan as if they could start a revival! One cannot but ask what is coming of the 'Wales for Christ' campaign launched not so very long ago with such a flourish. In revival the one and only essential element is this supernatural element, the Spirit of God coming in power, and of His sheer mercy.

It is striking to observe how small a place there is in revival for human gifts and eloquence. The mighty eloquence of a Whitefield or a Rowland is the exception and not the rule, for very often the greatest influences have accompanied very ordinary powers of speech. One thinks of Jonathan Edwards reading his heavy sermons with a candle in one hand and his script held close to his eyes with the other, whilst his congregation was being overwhelmed by the powers of the Holy Spirit. Or one might consider the beginning of the Beddgelert Revival, which in time spread across the best part of North Wales. It was a Sunday night in August 1817. A company of country folk had gathered from the high valleys and mountain slopes of Snowdonia to the farmhouse of Hafod-y-llan, where a service was being led by a very ordinary lay preacher. To John Hughes, in his three-volume history of Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, Methodistiaeth Cymru, the preacher was only 'some brother'; according to Henry Hughes, in his Hanes Diwygiadau Crefyddol Cymru ['History of the Religious Revivals of Wales'] he was Richard Williams of Brynengan. The preacher's text was one of Christ's words of invitation to sinners to come to Him. As he warmed to his subject the little congregation felt that it was not Richard Williams at all who was speaking; it was not his voice, not his style, not even his sermon! The preacher himself said afterwards that he was not very sure whether he was preaching or listening to someone else. The service ended in a still silence—no hymn, no singing. There was no appeal. The belief then was that converts were not to 'come forward' in a rush of feeling, but, as it were, in cold blood, in full realization of their commitment. How different this is from our present-day evangelistic crusades! One day the following week, the seiat (church meeting) was being held in the chapel, and the two elders, Rhys Williams of Hafod-y-llan, and William Williams of Hafod-y-rhisgl, sat in the parlour of the chapel-house waiting to go in. One of them peeped through the door to see whether they could begin the service and saw to his astonishment that the place was nearly full. A hymn was given out, but as soon as they stood up to sing the whole congregation broke down in cries and tears. In the words of Robert Ellis of Ysgoldy, quoted by Henry Hughes, 'It transpired that here was a chapel full of people at the end of their tether.' How utterly different is all this from the build-up of personalities, and the accompanying lights and music which we often associate with modern evangelism!

A spirit of prayer

Then again—and I am still emphasizing the supernatural element in revival—there is the spirit of prayer that precedes and accompanies periods of revival. It is so with the revivalists themselves. Dafydd Morgan prayed for ten years for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Richard Owen from his very youth was given to much prayer, and would not accept an invitation to hold preaching services in a place unless the people came together to pray before his coming. Evan Roberts prayed for the Holy Spirit for thirteen years, and all the leaders of that same revival—Seth Joshua, Joseph Jenkins, W. W. Lewis, R. B. Jones and others—were men given to much prayer.

Not only is diligence and labour in prayer characteristic of the leaders in a time of revival, but there is also a general spirit of prayer among the people at large. On 1 July 1857, Jeremiah Lanphier, described as 'a quiet and zealous businessman', took up an appointment as city missionary in the North Church of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York. He decided to hold a noonday prayer meeting and distributed a handbill to invite others to join him during the lunch-hour every Wednesday. The first meeting was on 23 September 1857, when just six people came together. The following week twenty persons attended, and the third week about forty people were present. It was then decided to hold the prayer meeting every day. Within six months 10,000 people were gathering in the city every day to pray. Thus began in New York the spiritual awakening which eventually swept throughout America and crossed the seas to the British Isles as the '59 Revival.

At the end of 1904, Henry Williams, the Congregational minister in Colwyn Bay, led twenty prayer meetings in one week. They were held after the revival services, and some of them continued for as long as three hours. On the Wednesday night a hundred people attended, and 250 on the Thursday night, when the meeting continued until after midnight. During that week scores of men and women had voluntarily taken part in prayer.

Christmas Day in 1904 fell on a Sunday. On the Monday, Boxing Day, a prayer meeting was held at 10 o'clock in Salem Chapel, Caernarfon. The Reverend J. E. Hughes relates that a good number had come together, and that the 'unction from the Holy One' was felt to be falling gently and quietly upon the congregation. Another prayer meeting was then announced for the afternoon, and when the time came the spacious building was full: 'a strange sight', he adds, 'on Boxing Day in our town!' The variety entertainment at the Winter Carnival in the famous pavilion, he goes on to say, was 'mortally wounded', and before the end of the week it was discontinued. In the months that followed, two or three prayer meetings were held every day, alternating weekly from chapel to chapel.

On that same Boxing Day, three prayer meetings were held in the village of Rhos, near Wrexham, the evening congregation filling two chapels; and for months after this there were two prayer meetings a day, and three on Saturdays and Mondays. Such a spirit of prayer comes not by the will of man, but is a gift from on high, an offshoot of the divine visitation. Accompanying the spirit of prayer there was also a gift of language and fluency of expression. Sir John Morris-Jones remarked on the fluent and exalted diction in prayer of farm-labourers who had little education but were filled with the spirit of revival.

How do we explain all this—the coming together of thousands of persons in times of revival, with little publicity, no handbills, no posters, no radio or television, and in earlier revivals even with few newspapers? How do we explain the power accompanying some of these leaders, the tremendous and overwhelming sense of the presence of God in the meetings? Whence this spirit of prayer, this will and desire to pray, and the manifest gift of prayer? How do we explain the thousands of genuine conversions, the fact that ungodly and dissolute men were changed overnight to become saints of God and, in time, pillars in His Church? There is only one convincing explanation: a merciful visitation from on high. We have lost to a great degree the dimension of the supernatural from our religion. Revival, by definition, is a supernatural phenomenon. The heart of revival is beyond psychological or sociological explanation.

What of the future?

What are the prospects of revival in our day and age? We should not be light-heartedly optimistic. I say this not because we are too sophisticated and clever; not because we are too modern. No generation is more modern than any other. Modern merely means contemporary. Every generation is modern in its day, and every generation eventually becomes ancient and old-fashioned. But it seems to me that the churches today, by which I mean the main part of the traditional denominations, need more than a revival. We need reformation. We need to discover anew the great central, saving truths of the faith. The Church, always in danger of drifting from these truths which are perpetually a stumbling- block to human wisdom, has had to contend and strive from age to age to defend and maintain them. This was the case even in apostolic times, as we find in the New Testament epistles.

One feels at times today that the battle for the time being is wellnigh lost. We have no theology of revival. That theology, the doctrine of the apostles and the reformers, was under heavy attack in 1904, when what was then known as modernism was rolling in, sweeping and strong. The Reverend William Hobley observed that the 1904 Revival lacked the theological emphasis of the 1859 Revival. He quotes the words of 'a revered elderly minister' that 'it was for the Atonement they gave thanks in '59; but now they give thanks for their own pleasant feelings.' It was surely this theological void, the doctrinal deviation of the times, that accounts for the somewhat disappointing results of that revival even in terms of character building. The converts were often nurtured on doctrines which did not square with their spiritual experience, on a diet consisting of the thin religious hash of a reduced Bible, German philosophy and biblical criticism.

Today our theological condition is even worse. The modernism of the first part of the century has long been discredited. Then we lived through the more biblical theology associated with the names of Barth and Brunner, and this to a large extent gave way eventually to a new radicalism which is even further from the gospel than the old modernism. Today we have almost reached the position where the person who is orthodox in his beliefs and convictions, who stands on the Bible and in the central tradition of the Christian faith, is considered to be a dogmatic reactionary, a stubborn anti-intellectualist, an obscurantist to be pitied and derided. The gospel which brings men to a personal knowledge of Christ and to the joyful experience of the new birth has to be fought for in the very inner councils of the historic denominations. In conditions such as these, his would he a glib and shallow mind that dared to promise smoothly that a revival of vital religion is close at hand.

And yet we have to remember that God is the God of wonders, the God of miracles, the God of gracious and incalculable mercy to the unworthy. Who knows that He may not yet show mercy to a degenerate and apostate people? There never has been, and there never will be, a time when we deserve the gracious visitation of His reviving Spirit. The Church will never have anything but its need and poverty to plead before the throne of God, and no other advocate but Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. We would do well to make it our first priority and concern to plead as a people, 'O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.'


Notes

A. The 1904 Revival Memorial Lecture of the Presbyterian Church of Wales delivered in English at the Association of the East (at Oswestry) and in Welsh at the Associations of the South (at Cwmdwyfran) and the North (at Prestatyn) during 1978. The lecture was also delivered in English as the Annual Historical Lecture at the Ministers' Conference of the Evangelical Movement of Wales in June 1978.

B. See, for example, his The Experience Meeting --An Introduction to the Welsh Societies of the Evangelical Awakening (Evangelical Movement of Wales, 1973), translated by Mrs. Bethan Lloyd-Jones—Ed.

C. It is interesting to read in this context of the remarks of that witty Calvinistic Methodist minister John Jones (1761-1822) of Edern in Caernarfonshire, probably made at the time of the great 'Beddgelert' Revival which swept North Wales during the last years of his life. Someone had complained to John Jones that it was the young people who were rejoicing and jumping, but that the preachers and elders were not doing so, and therefore were not enjoying the revival. Jones replied thus: 'It is not the old sheep that are to be seen prancing and jumping, but the lambs. Yet the old sheep has its eye ever on the lamb, although she be grazing; and it is very good for that lamb by nightfall that the sheep was grazing to enable her then to give him some milk' (see T. M. Jones, Cofiant . . . Roger Edwards (Wrecsam, 1908), p.164—Ed.