Review: The Welsh Revival

Rating: ★★★

Authors:

W. T. Stead (1849-1912) was a renowned investigative journalist.

G. Campbell Morgan (1863-1945) was a prolific Bible teacher and pastor of Westminster Chapel in London.

Overview:

The Welsh Revival (1905) is a brief account of some of the distinctives of the revival that occurred in Wales in the year of its publication. starting with Stead’s own revival experience in Wales in 1860, this little book follows with about 50 pages of accounts from the 1905 Welsh revival. Stead is by no means a theologian, but his account is straightforward and interesting nonetheless.

Morgan then writes on “The Revival: Its Power and Its Source”. Morgan visited Wales during the height of the revival, and attended a meeting which lasted hour after hour, long after he left.

I left that evening, after having been in the meeting three hours, at 10:30, and it swept on, packed as it was, until an early hour next morning, song and prayer and testimony and conversion and confession of sin by leading church-members publicly, and the putting of it away, and all the while no human leader, no one indicating the next thing to do, no one checking the spontaneous movement. (p. 81)

He describes the revival meetings as having no order of service and no thoroughgoing preaching—and yet so many lives were transformed, that crime rates plummeted in the wake of the revival.

These are the three occupations—singing, prayer, testimony. . . .

There are no inquiry rooms, no penitent forms, but some worker announces, or an inquirer openly confesses Christ, the name is registered and the song breaks out, and they go back to testimony and prayer. (p. 80)

Morgan has sometimes been construed as being anti-charismatic. This little book shows that he believed the Welsh revival, at least, to be a work of God.

This whole thing is of God; it is a visitation in which he is making men conscious of Himself, without any human agency. . . . God has given Wales in these days a new conviction and consciousness of himself. That is the profound thing, the underlying truth. (p. 86)

Morgan warns sternly against giving too much credit to any human agent. He speaks of the revival meeting he attended as having “no human leader”.

You tell me that the revival originates with [Evan] Roberts. I tell you that Roberts is a product of the revival. . . .

To my mind, Morgan’s warnings about the Welsh revival are reminiscent of Gamaliel’s warnings in Acts 5:

If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
(Acts 5:38-39, NIV)

Below are more quotations come from Morgan’s contribution to the book:

As the meeting went on, a man rose in the gallery and said, “So and So,” naming some man, “has decided for Christ,” and then in a moment the song began. They did not sing Songs of Praises, they sang Diolch Iddo, and the weirdness and beauty of it swept over the audience. It was a song of praise because that man was born again.

Evan Roberts is no orator, no leader. What is he ? I mean now with regard to this great movement. He is the mouthpiece of the fact that there is no human guidance as to man or organization. The burden of what he says to the people is this: It is not man; do not wait for me depend on God; obey the Spirit. (p. 82)

When these Welshmen sing, they sing the words like men who believe them. (p. 82)

On the origin of the revival:

In the name of God let us all cease trying to find it. At least let us cease trying to trace it to any one man or convention. You cannot trace it, and yet I will trace it tonight. Whence has it come? All over Wales I am giving you roughly the result of the questioning of fifty or more persons at random in the week a praying remnant have been agonizing before God about the state of the beloved land, and it is through that the answer of fire has come. You tell me that the revival originates with Roberts. I tell you that Roberts is a product of the revival. You tell me that it began in an Endeavor meeting where a dear girl bore testimony. I tell you that was part of the result of a revival breaking out everywhere. If you and I could stand above Wales, looking at it, you would see fire breaking out here and there, and yonder, and somewhere else, without any collusion or prearrangement. It is a divine visitation in which God let me say this reverently in which God is saying to us: See what I can do without the things you are depending on; see what I can do in answer to a praying people ; see what I can do through the simplest who are ready to fall in line and depend wholly and absolutely upon me.

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