Many of us have heard of John Wesley and George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards and the revivals that took place in America and England under their ministries.
It is interesting to note that at the same time there was also a great revival that was taking place in Wales.
One author writes, “It is a fact of great interest that the revival of Religion which arose in the last century, broke out simultaneously in England, Wales, Scotland and America. It commenced in Wales in the year 1735 with the conversion of Howel Harris and Daniel Rowlands…The Oxford Society of Methodists had commenced a little before 1735; but it was in that year that George Whitefield joined it; in the following year he was ordained; and he commenced preaching with great effect. In the year 1735, the revival broke out with great force in the church of Northampton, New England, where Jonathan Edwards ministered. And in England, Wales, and America it had an independent origin.”
What a time that must have been!
Perhaps because of the language they spoke or the fact that they didn’t travel abroad as much as Whitefield or write as much as Edwards, we know less about some of the preachers in the Welsh revival. But that’s not because their ministries were less powerful or effective.
In fact, listen to what one of their great preachers, Howel Harris, wrote to George Whitefield, about the ministry of a man named Daniel Rowland (who some would say was a more eloquent preacher than even Whitefield himself!):
“My dearest brother Whitefield, – I was last Sunday with brother Rowlands at the Ordinance, where I saw, heard and felt, such things as I cannot communicate an idea of on paper. The power that continues with him is uncommon; such crying, and heart-breaking groans, silent weeping, holy mourning, shouts of joy and rejoicing, as I never witnessed before. Their ‘Amens,’ and crying ‘Glory in the highest!’ would have inflamed your dear soul, had you been there. It is very common when he preaches, for scores to fall down by the power of the Word-pierced and wounded by the love of God, and by a sight of the beauty and excellency of Jesus-and lie on the ground, nature being overcome by the sight and enjoyment of God given to their heaven-born souls, so that it cannot bear any more; the spirit almost bursting the house of clay to go to its native home! Some lie there for hours; some praising and admiring Jesus Christ and free grace; others wanting words to utter their minds! You might read the language of a heart running over with love in their heavenly looks; their very eyes sparkling with love, and joy, and solid rest in God; others meeting to sing when the preaching is over. And you might feel God among them, as a flame, and they like Him! You might see others falling down on their knees, one after another, for a long time together, praying and interceding, you might see and feel that it is the prayer of faith, and that they are worshiping a God they know and love and delight in; and that now scarcely a veil is between them and the Object of their adoration. Others lie wounded under a sense of their having pierced Jesus, so that they can hardly bear it. Others triumph over all their enemies, and some are mourning and waiting for the Comforter….However this is but a very faint idea of it. For what words can express spiritual things?…”
In another letter to a friend, he adds:
“And O! such power as generally attends the labors of brother Rowlands, in particular, is indeed uncommon and almost incredible until one sees it himself. Their singing and praying is indeed full of God! O! how did my soul burn with sacred love when I was among them! They fall almost as dead by the power of the word, and continue weeping for joy, having found the Messiah; some mourning under a sense of their sin, and some in the pangs of the new birth. I am now in Pembrokeshire, where Rowlands has been preaching; he has been wonderfully attended with blessings in these borders also. The power at the conclusion of his sermons was such that multitudes continued weeping and crying out for the Savior, and could not possibly forbear.”