EVAN ROBERTS, REVIVALIST
Story Of The Liverpool Mission
by Gwilym Hughes
(Special Correspondent of the "South Wales Daily News")
WITH A SPECIAL ARTICLE ON THE REVIVALIST AND THE
MISSION BY SIR EDWARD RUSSELL,
Editor of the "Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Mercury."
About This Booklet
It was Wednesday 29th March, 1905 that Evan Roberts began his only mission outside of Wales, in the city of Liverpool, where scores of thousands of Welsh people lived. He laboured there almost three weeks> and it is estimated that 750 converts joined the churches as a result of his ministry. Each evening of the campaign Gwylim Hughes hurriedly wrote a short sketch of his observations of the meetings and telegraphed them to the South Wales Daily News, 170 miles away. This book is comprised of these eighteen vibrant and first-hand sketches.
Introduction. By Sir Edward Russell
Sketch I. Princes Road Inaugural Meeting
Sketch II. At Anfield. Features of the Mission
Sketch III. Birkenhead. Sensational Service
Sketch IV. Shaw Street. Five Envious Persons
Sketch V. Toxteth Tabernacle. Church Members Denounced
Sketch VI. Seacombe. "Where is the Mocker? "
Sketch VII. Crescent Church, Everton. Sweetness and Joy
Sketch VIII. Bootle. Remarkable Gathering. Liverpool Ministers' Estimate
Sketch IX. Lord Mayor's Tribute. Revivalist's Narrow Escape
Sketch X. Sun Hall. Missioner and the Hypnotist. Grumbling Minister Denounced
Sketch XI. Princes Road. 213 Converts
Sketch XII. Westminster Road, Kirkdale. A Joyless Meeting
Sketch XIII. Mynydd Zion. Free Church of the Welsh. "Not on the Rock"
Sketch XIV. Bootle. A Novel Test
Sketch XV. Fitzclarence Street. Persistent Interrupter
Sketch XVI. Chatham Street. Ministers Attack Missioner. Rev. Daniel Hughes's Letter
Sketch XVII. Princes Road. Missioner's Health. Free Church of the Welsh's Reply
Sketch XVIII. Birkenhead. Final Meeting. Revivalist's Departure
THE extraordinary, not to say the marvellous, incidents that marked the visit of Mr. Evan Roberts, the central figure of the great Welsh Revival of 1904-5, to the city of Liverpool, and the widespread interest they aroused, call for a permanent record; and the request has reached me from many quarters for a reproduction in book form of the sketches which, during those never-to-be-forgotten three weeks, it was my duty to telegraph each evening to the South Wales Daily News. I am indebted to Messrs. D. Duncan and Sons, the proprietors of that newspaper, for their kind permission to comply with this request, and the enterprise of Mr. E. W. Evans has made possible the reproduction of the sketches in the form they now assume.
For these sketches no literary merit is claimed. Slip by slip the copy had to be written hurriedly each evening in the heat and excitement of crowded gatherings and handed to telegraph messengers in waiting, for transmission over the wires. Thus, often, the first, half of each evening's message would be set up in type in the printing office 170 miles away ere the second half was completed. For this reason the sketches undoubtedly lack in literary polish; but for the same reason, they have, I venture to believe, the compensating quality of conveying to the reader the vivid impressions produced by the many incidents at the very moment of their happening.
The Liverpool meetings will be memorable for the new phase therein revealed of Mr. Evan Roberts' wonderful powers. It was in November, 1904, that after a short term of six weeks at the Newcastle Emlyn Grammar School, he suddenly returned home to Loughor, and there, in his native village on the Glamorgan border, kindled the first spark of the revival which, by the end of February, had set the whole of Glamorgan, Monmouthshire, and East Carmarthenshire ablaze and added 80,000 converts to the churches. Then, suddenly at Neath he withdrew into silence and solitude. For seven days and seven nights he kept to his room "commanded of the Spirit" to remain mute, and commune only with God. Emerging from that retirement, he divested himself of all worldly possessions, sharing his savings (amounting to £350), among a number of churches, and travelled to Liverpool in literal obedience to the Divine command - "Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money." In Liverpool, we saw the missioner turn prophet. We heard his predictions and marvelled as we witnessed their fulfilment. We listened - often in pain - to his denunciations of the secret thoughts of men around him; but, looking back, I cannot recall a single condemnation of the kind that was not afterwards fully justified. Theologians and psychologists may explain these things; my province is that of the historian.
As to the beneficial effects of the mission, let it suffice that during the three weeks 750 converts were added to the churches; that professed Christians enjoyed a real deepening of the spiritual life; and that numbers untold have been compelled to turn serious thoughts to the great issue of "the life beyond."
Cardiff, April, 1905.
Mr. Evan Roberts and the Mission.
By Sir Edward Russell,
Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury.
"The Silent Evangelist" has held his last Liverpool meeting. During the stay of Evan Roberts, while attention has been largely attracted, few have known what to say. Many have not known what to think. But from first to last the phenomena have been unique, and, in presence of them he has received, not only from all communions, but from the general public, demonstrations of respect and interest. There has been no indifference.
There has been astonishingly little scepticism. Any scepticism there has been has scarcely been expressed. The general sentiment has been that there could be no doubt of the need to which Evan Roberts's ministrations have been addressed; that the success of those ministrations showed that he could make the need felt; and that, as good must result - God speed to it. No one who has encountered this young man has doubted his good faith. No one could doubt his power over people of his nation. Nor has anyone disputed the reality of those traits which his admirers celebrate: his intense and searching gaze, his ready and illustrative action, his curiously bewitching smile, his devout and strenuous silences, his appearance of being amenable to instantaneous impulses, which he takes to be Divine. In this respect it has been rather shrewdly suggested by a thoughtful member of the Society of Friends that what has happened with Evan Roberts is only what happens at every Quakers' meeting. Nor need more be made of it, though there were one or two incidents which favoured a more fanatical or more supernatural theory. The idea of good thoughts being put into the mind by God is one of the first to be entertained, one of the last to be surrendered. He who can with most conviction and effect convey such communications to others is the best George Fox or Evan Roberts. In each of these cases the thing specially notable - the distinctively new trait in evangelism is the silence, which much overbalances the speech. The trait which has been least mentioned as to Evan Roberts, but which has been most new, has been the entire absence of personal push.
If anyone had gone into the great Welsh Calvinistic Church in the Princes Road, on Saturday evening, without any previous information, he might well have failed to discover - at all events, till after four hours, and then he might have been forgiven for missing it - that the 2,500 denselypacked, visibly excited people assembled had come to hear, and were longing to bear, a young man who in the main sat saying nothing, doing nothing, with his head on his hands. He might have been the Rev. John Williams's unimportant subordinate, waiting to take a message or to start a hymn. Those who have seen other revivals must know how totally different this is; and the evidence seems sufficient that from the beginning of his career in Wales Evan Roberts has behaved in the same way.
Leaving unoffered the transcendental explanation which his disciples in solemn confidence advance, we may suggest as a rationalistic explanation the character and ways of the Welsh. There may have been in camp meetings in America scenes comparable to that of Saturday night. There have been no such scenes among the English. Go back to Wesley and Whitefield; come down to Moody and Sankey; if you will, to Torrey and Alexander; in all the revivals of these there was the visible personal domination, and in the last two contrived music. Whereas in the Welsh revival all is voluntary, impulsive. This one starts praying, that one starts singing, over the whole area of the congregation. The responses to what is heard are numerous. Response pervades. But no one obtains monopoly as mouthpiece. As often as not the weird, rhythmic, oftrepeated cadence of the Welsh petition, frequently in lovely female voices mellowing from moment to moment under the influence of spiritual passion, is the expression of some personal agony or ecstasy; desolation because of some dear one's insensibility to the Divine love or the Divine authority; joy at the remembrance and the experiences of salvation; tragic horror at the thought of hundreds then and there on the road to spiritual ruin; giant-joy in the faith that they will yet be saved.
Ever anon comes by swift casual force of humble personal initiative, bursting amidst and overwhelming the exclamations and pleadings, the great, inimitable volume of Welsh hymnody - a vast, solemn, deliberate torrent of majestic melody. This, the warp of the magnificent soundfabric. Shooting across it a grand woof of many harmonies, strong, vigorous, pealing, startling, with all the effect - nay, more than the effect - of the noblest counterpoint; greater in effect because the singers, the whole assembly - all knowing the words - are to the manner born of this matchless musical achievement. A venerable Welsh friend whispers as you murmur your almost unspeakable admiration, "Because it comes from the heart." But even then you know that it comes from the heart of a national being and essence, which has no peer in the musical expression of spiritual emotion - perhaps no peer in popular possession by spiritual realities. And this knowledge is deepened as you receive from kind, eager friends suggestions of the poetic purport of these wonderful, chiefly minor-key lyrics of two-thousand-voiced power. One of them is an impassioned appeal for likeness to Christ. Another pours forth in aeolian strains the air that breathes from Calvary. Another surveys from Calvary's height all the glories of the world, and serenely declares their true place in the scheme of things, and the higher range of truths which Calvary's deed and doctrine have made part of the continuous experience of humanity.
When the adhesions of converts begin to be taken the singing take another tone - that of pure joy. A hymn-verse is repeated and repeated in triumph, and the genius of the people seems to give newness even to the seventieth repetition. Of the solos, inspired by the wildest emotions and often sung with frenzied gesticulations in appeal to the Almighty - but always well sung - we need not speak. Let us note how Evan Roberts rises and without posing mounts to the height of the occasion. He eagerly turns the leaves of the pulpit Bible. He struggles with the evil principle which he seems to see rampant among the unyielding of his hearers.
He dissolves into his own smile at the thought of precious Bible passages and sidelights. Big book on shoulder he transacts, but not theatrically, the lost sheep reclaimed and so carried by the Good Shepherd. Then comes stress of gloom, and he buries his head in his hands and arms. Anon comes the head uplifted, the face suffused with the smile, prompted by something he or another has said. And a curious Welsh peculiarity is that what is a smile in Evan Roberts is often a quick genial laugh in some of his hearers. And when you seek the humorous cause, it was no humour, but a glad recognition of a familiar, household-word, spiritual joy. Meanwhile, you are one of a vast assembly which for three or four hours has been, as far as you can judge, intensely and individually racked by anxiety for the salvation of the unsaved minority present. We are using the language which best expresses the ideas of the rapt participators in the scene. It is a great illustration of the strength of the personal redemption idea in the popular religion of this country that where it is realised it can produce such a scene, and though the Welsh temperament is necessary for enacting it, English sympathy has no difficulty in understanding it. This is true not only in England and Scotland, but in America and in the colonies - wherever English is spoken. May we venture to suggest that here comes in the permanent moral of the Evan Roberts Revival period?
Are our clergy in their regular ministrations justified in laying aside or leaving to occasional revivalists, as they undoubtedly have done for years, the active prosecution of the doctrine and practice of conversion?
Whenever British religion has been earnest and zealous this element has been its key. Because it is in the background in the beautiful quietism of Keble, the sacerdotalism of Pusey, the reasoned continuity of Newman's Catholicism, the Oxford Movement has, after all, been a penchant rather than a popular power. There is, of course, much converting grace in High Church teaching, and Conversion was long the main business of the Evangelicals, who had to import it into Anglican usage and phraseology in order to do under Church of England forms their work in the world.
But of late years the direct insistence on the New Birth has gone much into desuetude. Yet, if there is one irrefragable human fact, denied by none of any faith, it is that it must be right and saving (in every sense) to turn with full purpose of heart to good and to God. The extent to which this must be connected, either in rationale or method, with this or that dogma, must be decided by this and that Church. The important thing for the world is that all Churches alike should insist on the one central necessity on which Evan Roberts has been insisting, and for which, under his mystical stimulus, thousands personally and many thousands vicariously have during the past few weeks in Liverpool been wrestling with angels. Perhaps the most pathetic incident of Saturday evening was when it was pleaded for a young man in the galleries that in infinite distress he was willing and wishful to "decide," but that on Monday he would have to go to work among his companions, and he felt that then he might fall. Weak and foolish? Yes; but it is to strengthen such honest Fainthearts and triumphantly to extirpate by grace such cowardly folly of unaided human nature that the Gospel ought to be preached, and effectually, every Sunday. Such is the accruing lesson of the Evan Roberts Liverpool mission.
One other thing must in honesty be said. Things that exist cannot be annihilated either by ignoring them or by denouncing them. Let it be quite understood that the real results of sound inquiry as to Revelation are not got rid of either because Dr. Torrey protests against them, or because Evan Roberts says nothing about them. It was distinctly no business of Dr. Torrey as an Evangelist to make futile protests against the results of scholarship and reason. It was no business of Evan Roberts to deal with any such matter: He showed good sense, good taste, and a sound spirit in adhering to what was his business. The important body of ministers by whom the Welsh Churches are served are more and more cultured. The juniors are taking B. D. degrees at the new Welsh University. For these degrees they are examined by some of the finest of Biblical scholars. The testimony of those who know is that the members of Welsh congregations love the old unction, for which they have a special and untranslatable word, quite as well as ever, but they exact also weight and thought. It is natural and right that the pivot fact of the New Birth not only should be continually urged, but may at times collect around it an accumulated force of special interest and attention. But the ministers will lead the people into blindness if, either in their teaching or tacitly, they allow it to be thought that the truths of conversion are incompatible with the truths of the intellect. Happily there is not even incongruity between them. We should deprecate in the Revival atmosphere even an unconscious laying aside of intelligent conclusions. The New Birth not only does not render unnecessary - it demands - intellectual sustenance of the New Life.
The Inaugural Meeting at Princes Road.
LIVERPOOL, Wednesday, March 29, 1905.
Mr. Evan Roberts, this evening, commenced his work in Liverpool, and for the next fortnight or three weeks, so it is now arranged, he will minister among the scores of thousands of Welsh people who are residing in and around this great city. We of South Wales are well aware how heavily the Liverpool visit has, during the last month, weighed on the missioner's mind. It was one of the reasons given by him for his retirement into the seven days' silence and solitude at Neath, but he left his home at Loughor yesterday fully persuaded that his efforts here would secure the Divine blessing. Among the Welsh churches of the city and suburbs, embracing all denominations, the visit has been anticipated with feverish anxiety, and recent events, with the delays and uncertainties they involved, have served only to heighten the fever. The Liverpool Welsh Free Churches Council, the body that has charge of the mission arrangements, organised in preparation for it a thorough canvass of the Welsh people of Liverpool. These, it was found, numbered 30,000, and of these 4,000 are described as non-adherents - that is to say, persons who do not attend any place of worship. During the next few days' special efforts will be made to bring these within the influence of the revival.
Tonight's opening meeting was at Princes Road C. M. Chapel, a handsome edifice often described as the cathedral of Welsh Nonconformity. It stands on the Princes-road Boulevard - a magnificent avenue leading to Sefton Park, and within easy access of the centre of the city. Simultaneously another meeting was held at the Mount Zion Wesleyan Chapel, close by, and this was likewise crowded out. That Mr. Roberts would appear at one or other of these meetings was generally known, but, outside the committee, no one knew which of the two places he would select. At six, the chapel doors were thrown open, and for the next twenty minutes a force of Liverpool police - all Welsh-men - had as much as they could do to control and marshal the great and excited crowd besieging the entrances. Under normal conditions Princes-road Church is assured to seat 1,800 people. This evening it was packed in every corner, though the aisles were kept free. The stewards had strict orders to prevent anybody standing in the aisles, and the injunctions were rigidly observed. Among the occupants of the deacons' pew I observed practically all the best-known leaders of Welsh Nonconformity in the city. The Rev. John Williams, the pastor of the church, one of the great preachers of Wales, was conspicuous, and so also were Dr. Owen Evans, ex-president of the Congregational Union of Wales, Revs. D. Adams (C.), W. M. Jones (C. M.) David Jones, W. O. Evans (W.), O. R. Owen (C.), J. Lewis Williams (C.), Owen Owens (C. M.), J. D. Evans (C. M.), W. Owen (C. M.) Robert Lewis (W.), J. Hughes, BA., B. D. (C.M.), Mr. W. Evans, chairman of the Liverpool Welsh Free Churches Council, Councillor Henry Jones (secretary), and others.
An hour ago, as I wended my way to this meeting, my companion, one of the best known laymen of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, incidentally remarked, "This is a great and risky experiment, to transplant the revivalist from his native Glamorgan." It was with some such doubts also that I scanned this great gathering. Before the missioner arrived, the atmosphere seemed to entirely lack that spiritual electricity we have been accustomed to associate with revival gatherings in the Southern province. Indeed, for the first half-hour the congregation seemed too eminently respectable to do anything of its own initiative, and assumed an air of expectancy and curiosity that was chilling, if not absolutely fatal to anything approaching enthusiasm and spontaneity.
The opening prayer was offered by the Rev. J. Lewis Williams (C.), who it was interesting to learn is the successor at the Great Mersey Street Church of the Rev. Peter Price, now of Dowlais, the writer of the recent attack upon the missioner and his methods. He was followed by the Rev. W. O. Evans (Wesleyan), and subsequently, after some urging from the "set fawr," a few prayers were offered in the congregation, and a number of hymns were sung. The revival "fire," however, had not yet been kindled. Promptly at 7 o'clock Mr. Evan Roberts entered the pulpit from the vestry behind, looking in excellent health. With him were Miss Annie Davies and his sister, Miss Mary Roberts. They were followed by the Rev. D. M. Phillips, of Tylorstown. Their advent seemed to arouse no special interest. Evidently, the stolid, phlegmatic Northman is not so easily excited as his mercurial brother in the South.
Is the revivalist disappointed? This meeting, after his recent experiences, must seem to him something like an approach to the Arctic regions. He sits in one of the pulpit chairs, and for the next hour and a half utters not a word.
Meanwhile let us glance at the audience. Gradually we become conscious of an increase of fervour in the hymns. The prayers too, seem attuned to a more spiritual key. We hear the same hymns that we sing in the South, but - with a difference. They are all here sung in the minor key, and the tempo is slow and at times almost dragging? Those who pray are of all ages, old and young. At last, here are two on their feet simultaneously, both praying loud and long, and ere they finish someone strikes up a well-known hymn. Presently, the whole congregation is singing with something akin to enthusiasm.
A minute later Miss Annie Davies is rendering her first revival solo in Liverpool. It is "I need Thee every hour," and we note with delight that her voice is so far recovered that today it is as pure as it was in the early days of the revival, and shows no signs of wearing. Her example inspires many other sisters to participate in the service, and the prayers that follow in rapid succession from half a dozen young women in various parts of the building are stirring and truly eloquent.
It was 8.30 when the missioner first broke silence, and then it was in terms of severe reproof. Someone had started the quaint Welsh hymn "Y Gwr wrth ffynon Jacob," the congregation taking it up to all appearance with great heartiness. But when the fifth line was reached, in which a desire is expressed for closer contact with God, the missioner, who had for some half-hour been burying his face in his hands, suddenly sprang up and, with right arm uplifted and features tear-stained, peremptorily called upon the congregation to stop. There was instant obedience. "You ask for closer contact with God," he exclaimed in severe tones, "when there are in this very meeting hundreds of obstacles to the coming of the Spirit. There are scores, nay, hundreds here who during the last hour have disobeyed the Spirit. The lesson of prompt obedience to the Holy Spirit must be learnt at all costs. He must be obeyed at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances, in small things as well as in great." With this introduction the missioner proceeded to dwell upon the~ danger of offending God. "In that never-to-be-forgotten Cwmavon meeting," he remarked, "some of us saw what it meant to displease God." Christ had died for a whole world. He was entitled to receive a whole world in return. Was He to receive it? The sacrifice on the Cross called for sacrifice on the part of all Christ's followers. Then had been no successful gathering yet which had not cost something to somebody.
Heaven had cost much. Those who would serve Christ must serve Him at the cost of sacrifice. They must in the first place give Him their hearts. With dramatic suddenness the missioner now cut off his address with the remark, "I can proceed no further. There is someone here ready to speak." And after a second's pause a lady in the nave speaking in low, tremulous tones, recited portions of Scripture. Meanwhile Mr. Evan Roberts, glancing rapidly and excitedly around the congregation, cried out, "Come, oh! come at once; don't delay." And those near him observed with some alarm that he compressed his lips, as in a violent effort to suppress his emotions, that the veins in his temples and his neck became prominent, standing out like whipcord, and that he bent in the attitude of a man in a paroxysm of pain. He resumed his seat, and presently recovered his composure.
There was no call made for "confessions" or "testimonies," and yet for the next five minutes confessions came from all parts of the building, and this phase of the proceedings was appropriately closed by Miss Mary Roberts reading the 4th chapter of the first Epistle General of John. Then, as if moved by a common impulse, the congregation rang out in a thrilling rendering of a rousing Welsh hymn, and we felt that at last the congregation had been thawed, and was under the indefinable spell of the revival. Hitherto every word uttered in public had been in Welsh, but someone sang a strain of the revival melody "Come to Jesus," and English people present, recognizing their own language, summoned courage to participate in the proceedings. From this point to the end English prayers, and English hymns were frequently heard.
Still the missioner was not satisfied. Another hour had passed when he spoke again, and again it was a complaint that he uttered. Either the Holy Spirit worked differently in the North, or there was disobedience in the meeting, so we heard declared; but, continued the missioner, the Holy Spirit was the same North and South. The Spirit was at His best at that meeting, but hundreds within the building were in deed, if not in words, saying Him nay. The result of this disobedience was, that he (the speaker) was not permitted even to give out a hymn, much less to test the meeting.
Later there was a visible improvement, for the revival feeling rose to a great height, though in no way approaching anything witnessed in Glamorgan. At ten o'clock the meeting was tested by the Rev, John Williams, and a dozen converts were enrolled. The revivalist's closing words were a solemn warning to unbelievers.
It must he recorded that at this inaugural meeting the revivalist fell far short of doing justice to the reputation that had preceded him, and possibly many left the building disappointed. It is yet too soon, however, to form any conclusions. Mr. Evan Roberts is evidently feeling his way, and those who know him best are confident that in a few days the extraordinary outburst of religious fervour which marked his visits to the towns of Wales will be witnessed also in this great seaport on the Mersey. As we left the crowded building, we had outside to fight our way into the streets. Through a great throng inside the chapel railings, who all through the evening had been holding a revival service of their own in the open air. In this service dozens of Welsh policemen of Liverpool, drafted thereto by the chief constable, took conspicuous part.
At Anfield. - A Chant of Praise. - Features of the Mission.
LIVERPOOL, Thursday, March 30, 1905.
Disappointing as was last night's meeting at Princes Road Chapel to those familiar with revival scenes in South Wales, the Liverpool people express themselves delighted with it. They regard it as an unqualified success.
"Mr. Evan Roberts made an excellent first impression" is the phrase we hear on all sides, and this view is amply confirmed by the Liverpool and Manchester morning papers, all of which find in the Princes Road gathering ample justification of the renown which the revivalist has won. "We did not anticipate," said a leading local minister to me today, "witnessing in Liverpool anything like the stirring scenes you have had down South. I question whether our people here are capable of any extraordinary ebullition of feeling, and we do not desire it; but there prevailed at last night's meeting a deep and intense feeling which was unmistakable, and the revival, we feel confident, is taking a firm hold of the city."
In a conversation with the Rev. John Williams, of Princes Road, today, I was told something of the manner in which the city had been prepared for the coming of the mission. A house-to-house canvass of so vast a community as Liverpool is surely a task that would not be lightly undertaken by any body or association, no matter how highly organised, but the Welsh Free Churches of Liverpool, having conceived the idea, did not rest until it was carried into execution. The work was divided between the churches, and for many days one thousand canvassers were daily at work. Not a house was left unvisited, either in Liverpool or the suburbs, including Birkenhead and Garston, and at each the inquiry was made, "Are there any Welsh people here who do not frequent places of worship?" In the result, as previously stated, 4,000 such prodigals were discovered.
While this work was in progress, the canvassers met every Sunday night for prayer, and at one of these meetings someone conceived the happy idea of organizing during the mission special gatherings for this class of non-church goers. I hear today that three such meetings have been arranged in three different parts of the city, and they will be held next week. These meetings, every one of which Mr. Evan Roberts is anxious to address, are expected to be the feature of next week's programme.
Mr. Evan Roberts, I ascertained this morning, is in the best of health and spirits, and is deeply grateful to the Liverpool committee for the very excellent arrangements made for his comfort. The address of the house (No. 1 Duc's Street, Princes Park, the residence of Mrs. Edwards) in which he resides during his stay in the city is kept a profound secret, and he is thus enabled to enjoy rest and freedom, and to escape the unweleome attentions of the army of inquisitive callers who had been dogging his footsteps in other places. I very much fear, however, that the secret will soon become public property, for as I passed the house this morning I observed a crowd of the curious ones in the immediate vicinity watching the carriage which had just arrived to take the revivalist out for his morning drive.
Tonight's meeting is held in the northern end of the city, the chapel selected for the missioner's visit being that of Anfield Road, opposite Stanley Park. Simultaneously three similar gatherings, all crowded, were held in other chapels in the vicinity. Commodious as is the chapel at Anfield Road, for it will comfortably accommodate 1,200 people, it proved hopelessly inadequate to house the enormous crowd that besieged all the entrances at 6 o'clock. Three minutes later every inch of room within was occupied. Then the doors were finally closed, and the pastor (the Rev. Owen Owens) conveyed to those within, a message from the chief constable of Liverpool that no one was to leave the building until the close of the proceedings. This precaution, it was explained, was necessary so as to avoid crushing and panic.
It was an inspiring audience, typically Welsh, with a slight sprinkling perhaps of other nationalities. The spirit, of idle curiosity so painfully evident at Princes Road was tonight markedly absent; and ten minutes after the congregation was admitted I could detect nothing to distinguish the meeting from the finest revival gathering seen even in the Rhondda and the Garw. The Rev. Dr. Abel T. Parry, D.D., of Rhyl, an ex-president of the Welsh Baptist Union, had scarcely finished reading the introductory chapter ere a lady under the gallery was heard in earnest supplication. She was immediately followed by two young men, one a mere boy, and both prayed with irresistible power. Their theme was one of praise that in this revival the young men of Liverpool had been deeply immersed in the baptism of the Spirit. This elicited loud and fervent "Amens" from all parts of the building, and presently the "gorfoledd" found adequate vent in hymn after hymn. During the brief intervals between the stanzas we heard the music being repeated by a choir of apparently many thousand voices clustered in the streets on three sides of the building.
Let us glance around. While the congregation is yet singing, fully half a dozen persons in as many pews up and down the building are engaged in prayer, and as the music ceases we hear their voices, pitched in a quaint and musical monotone, betraying their North Wales origin. All of them are apparently blissfully unconscious of their surroundings. Like Jacob, one is wrestling for the blessing;, another, striking an altruistic note, pleads for the baptism of the Spirit upon all and sundry, but especially upon Evan Roberts, "Thine honoured servant.".
No one is in charge. The conduct of the meeting is entirely in the hands of the congregation. The spontaneity of the proceedings is delightful. Prayers and hymns follow absolutely without interval, and, as in South Wales, we occasionally have a dozen people simultaneously on their feet. Last night Mr. Evan Roberts - he has I see, just arrived, he is now in the pulpit, though his arrival has created no commotion - the revivalist, was taken aback by the lack of warmth at the Princes Road service, and asked whether the Spirit worked differently in the North from the way He worked in the South. Surely such a query would tonight be quite out of place. The ladies are now very much in evidence, and striking and beautiful are some of the prayers they offer. "The Pentecost that was lost through unbelief must come again," exclaims one, while the next pleads that the Lord should make them "all Marys, all prostrate at the feet of Jesus."
Shortly all eyes are fixed on the pulpit. Miss Annie Davies is singing the revival love song,
In a second or two she is complete mistress of the congregation. All seen enraptured by the vocalist, who, despite her glorious voice, evidently thinks more of her theme than of her art. She sings as one inspired. The line "Dyma gariad nad a'n anghof" ("Love that cannot be forgotten") is rung out again and again at the top of her voice with telling effect, and, presently, in contemplation of His love thus extolled, hundreds are silently weeping. A Wesleyan Methodist minister from Paris offers prayer in English for France; Gipsy Smith's brother-in-law, Mr. Evens, offers another for the salvation of the world, and other Englishmen and Englishwomen follow their example.
Why this silence of the missioner? It is nine o'clock; two hours have elapsed since he took his seat in the pulpit, but he has not yet uttered a word, nor has his face been once lit with a smile. Half an hour ago he bent his head and hid his face in his hands; now, as the congregation are absorbed in a rousing rendering of the Welsh Christian war march, "Marchog lesu yn Ilwyddianus," 'he seems to be rousing himself from a reverie and to be taking an intelligent interest in what passes around.
A young fellow in the gallery has been praying for a downpour of the Spirit. It was this that brought Mr. Evan Roberts at last to his feet. "No," he exclaimed, "don't ask the Spirit for the downpour, for we shall not get it. The Spirit will not come in all His fullness until a place is prepared for Him." Hence, he continued, the need for whole-hearted dedication of self - body and soul - to the service of God. Some prayed for a revival, and yet closed the doors of their own hearts against it; others were ready to do great things for God, but refused to do the lesser things for Him. They must learn to do the lesser things before they would be permitted to do the greater things. Was that meeting a success? Yes, perfectly; but Jesus had not been given all the glory that it had been possible to give Him, nor yet as much glory as He desired to have. They must not rob God of His glory. They must make up their minds to give all for God or all for the Devil. Each one of them must attract people to Jesus or repel people from Jesus. Which was it to be? In many Christian hearts Jesus reigned, while the will, the affection, the intellect, had not all been subjected to Him.
There was need to rub the rust off many a follower of Christ. God needed workers, not men. Jesus was the greatest worker the world had ever seen, and he who would be like the Master must be ready to be bent, and to be humiliated, even as the Master was.
For fully five minutes after the revivalist had suddenly ceased speaking, there is a silence that can be felt. Evan Roberts, bending over the pulpit desk, glances up and down the silent, solemn congregation with face now smiling, now sad, his solitary remark being,
"I have stopped, because I feel that now in this chapel scores are weighing themselves in the balance." Eventually the painful silence is broken by a touching prayer from the gallery for Universal peace, universal salvation." "Thou hast saved the Welsh, O Lord," ran one of the phrases, "save also the English, and the Scotch, and the Irish," and the congregation after a loud "Amen" breaks forth into a fervent and ecstatic rendering of "Diolch Iddo."
A little later the delicate task of testing the audience is conducted by the Rev. Owen Owens. On this occasion church members are asked not only to stand up, but to raise the right arm, and at once we see a whole forest of arms uplifted. "Up with them," cries the missioner, "up even unto Heaven if necessary; remember the arms that were once extended on the Cross." Are there any arms down? Only a few. Two, three, four converts are announced in rapid succession, and after each announcement the revivalist, who is now as eager and boyish in manner as he was wont to be at the beginning of this historic movement, leads the audience in a great chant of praise.
"Here is one who doesn't want to give in," The voice comes somewhere from the far end. "He won't? " asks the revivalist, "Let him beware lest the cry soon be that he shall not." Another man was said to decline because "he knew too many of the tricks of some who were church members." "It will be every man for himself in the great day to come," was the revivalist's response, "Do you find any fault with God?" It was close upon 11 o'clock when the meeting terminated, and a similar gathering held in the adjoining hall was simultaneously brought to a close. These Anfield meetings, if I mistake not, mark the beginning in Liverpool of a movement destined to prove as marvellous as that witnessed even in South Wales.
The Duty of Forgiveness. - Sensational Scene at Birkenhead.
BIRKENHEAD, Friday, March 31, 1905.
Throughout all the great centres of population skirting the banks of the Mersey, Evan Roberts, the Welsh revivalist, is undeniably the hero of the hour. His name is on every lip, his pictures are exhibited in hundreds of shop windows, and repeatedly today have I heard the regret expressed that the mission is not conducted in the universal language of the Saxon, and held in the Torrey-Alexander pavilion, which is still up, and in which 14,000 people could be accommodated. Evan Roberts has, however, come to Liverpool to conduct a mission to the Welsh people in the language they know best, and, as to the second point, the Welsh revivalist has not yet, except in one solitary instance at Bridgend, conducted a service since the beginning of the revival in any building not habitually used as a place of public worship. The Liverpool Committee, in arranging a series of suburban gatherings in preference to any central demonstration, are not only carrying out the wishes of the revivalist himself, but are keeping the movement in Liverpool and district strictly on the lines that have led to success in the towns and valleys of Wales.
The scene of operations today was changed from Liverpool to Birkenhead, and we are assembled this evening in the spacious chapel of the English Primitive Methodists in Grange Road. It is yet but six o'clock. The revivalist is not due for another hour, but the building was packed, and all the doors closed half an hour ago. Since then thousands have been turned away. Two other chapels in the vicinity, we are informed, are also crowded out. They are the English Baptist Chapel, Grange Road, and the Welsh Wesleyan Chapel, Claughton Road. In which of these three chapels will the revivalist appear? Anyone knowing the secret, and willing to part with it for a consideration, could have added considerably to his wealth during the last few hours. But the committee have kept their secret well, and there are not many, even in this congregation, who know that this is the chapel which the missioner will favour.
Looking around I recognise in the solitary occupant of the pulpit pew the form and features of the Rev. Thomas Gray, of Birkenhead, who must now be numbered among the veterans of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist ministry. He is "in charge" pending the missioner's arrival, but the congregation is already aflame with the spirit of the revival, and any attempt at leading would be out of place. An eloquent prayer for "the lessening of immorality and ungodliness in the town" is offered by the Rev. William Watson, the well-known Presbyterian minister of Claughton, but this is the only English we hear during the first hour, though there must be a large number of Englishmen present. The next prayer is in Welsh, and he who offers it, a middle-aged man of the artisan class, is evidently a recent convert. In the fluent, vigorous phrases that fall from him, we glean a bit of his personal history. For 20 years he had been a pronounced infidel, but two months ago the light came, darkness and doubt were for ever-dispelled and faith and conviction had been enthroned. It is a great prayer of thanksgiving, and the congregation is deeply stirred. The joy of the last two months is poetically depicted, but we are told that the only true happiness is that derived from bringing other souls within reach of the mercy of God. We must all be fishers of men and winners of souls. The same altruistic note is struck in many other prayers.
The Mission of the Welsh, it has often been written, is to counteract materialism, and to deepen the spirituality of the human race. If this be so, then the revival helps the nation to fulfil its destiny. A writer in a Liverpool daily today claims to have found the secret of the revival. It is, he asserts, the power of the Welsh people to sing. Had he made the remark after hearing this Birkenhead congregation tonight, one might be tempted to pardon him. In all my experience of the revival I have certainly heard no more inspiring singing than this. Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that there is here a large number of visitors from Festiniog and other North Wales centres, though I am reminded, by the way, that the Welsh vocalists of Birkenhead have on more than one occasion asserted their superiority in the chief choral and the ladies' choral competitions of the National Eisteddfod. In the prayers, as in the hymns, there is in every word an unmistakable heart-throb, and occasionally the building re-echoes to the sound of loudIy-proclaimed "Amenau."
It was a few minutes past seven when the missioner arrived. He at once took his seat, with the Rev. John Williams, in the pulpit. Miss Annie Davies was accommodated with a seat in the front. For some reason the missioner's sister is tonight absent. The arrival of the missioner causes an unusual flutter of excitement, and his features are closely scanned, and his every movement eagerly followed by an excited throng - but only for a moment. A fervent prayer is heard in the galleries 'that we may look to Thee, oh Lord, and not to Thy servant," and thus recalled to the spiritual aspect of the gathering, the congregation abandons itself once more to an ecstasy of praise. In a subdued voice Miss Annie Davies gives an exquisite rendering of Sankey's 'I hear Thy tender voice," and a solemn hush falls upon the assembly as it drinks in every warbling note that trills from the throat of the youthful singer.
In the audience are scores of young men and women from Rhos, aflame with the fire of the revival, kindled there simultaneously with the outbreak at Loughor. They are easily distinguishable by the fervency of their prayers, and presently four or five of them are heard addressing the Throne of Grace in voices pitched in a high, tremulous key, pulsating with emotion.
We begin to feel that this is going to be an unusual service, for the atmosphere is surcharged with that indefinable something so frequently experienced, at Evan Roberts's meetings. Call it hypnotism, magnetism, or what you will, or apply to it the revivalist's own description, "the Operation of the Holy Spirit," the effect is unmistakably manifest. Hearts beat quick and faces grow pale. There is a catch in the throat, and a deep consciousness that something is about to happen. A silence supervenes that is positively painful - the tension is at breaking point.
Half a dozen voices start a hymn, the congregation makes an effort to follow, and anon the, revivalist, rising suddenly from his seat, excitedly seizes the pulpit Bible and quickly turns o'er its leaves, as if in search of a text that is eluding him. Then, surveying the congregation, with face twitching as if with pain, and eyes full of pathos and sorrow, he sternly demands "silence, stop!"
The congregation is startled, and looks up. The hymn is abruptly stopped in the middle of a line. "Stop," repeats the missioner. "Stop, we must first clear this place before we can sing. A moment ago a friend over there beseeched God to come nearer, but He will not come nearer until some things here are cleared out of the way."
What is amiss? Each man looks with wonder at his neighbour, and we seem to read in the astonished faces that are turned towards the pulpit the startling question, "And is this man in the confidence of the Almighty?" Presently, the missioner proceeds to explain. "There are some here tonight who cannot pray the Lord's prayer, 'forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.' Why? Because they will not forgive those that have trespassed against them, and they are here tonight, and are obstacles in the way. Think not this is imagination, say not this is a flight of fancy; it is KNOWLEDGE. They are here, as certain as I am here, as certain as God is here," and, proceeding, he urges those thus alluded to, to forgive at once.
The scene that follows baffles description. Frantic prayers are heard from many parts of' the building. List to some of the phrases, "Bend them, oh Lord." "Forgive us and strengthen us to forgive." "Pardon our hypocrisy." "Bend the entire congregation." A little boy of eleven, who is in the gallery behind the pulpit, offers a prayer that is beautiful and touching. "Let love prevail like the ocean," he cries, "to enable us all to forgive and forget trespasses, and to think only of the infinite love of God. "
Again the congregation, with more than half of its members in tears, starts a hymn, and again, the missioner imperatively intervenes. "These people decline to forgive, and some of them are important personages, too. Let them beware lest the Spirit compels them to stand up and publicly denounce their own iniquity, nor must they be surprised if their names are given me. God is revealing Himself in wonderful ways these days."
This, we know from experience, is no idle threat; and we recall memories of that extraordinary meeting at Blaenanerch, when the missioner who now speaks actually pronounced a name under circumstances similar to these.
Again we hear a multitude of prayers. One of the number is by a young man, who is described to me as a leading official of the Free Church of the Welsh (Eglwys Rydd y Cymry), the section that recently seceded from the Calvinistic Methodist body in Liverpool. I look up and recognise him. He took a prominent part in the painful historic controversy that preceded that secession. We seem to be getting a glimmer of light on what is happening. Are hostile leaders in this meeting, with hearts still filled with bitterness and rancour? "Unite us, O Lord, unite us" is the young man's piercing cry, and again he repeats it, and again and again he is followed by loud "Amens." Sounds of sobbing fall on the ear from all sides. He who prays proceeds: - "We are in a hopeless tangle. Lord, reduce us to some semblance of order. We are in mortal fear of quitting this meeting until we are assured we are all brethren and sisters in Christ. Bend us all until every church in the district is ready to co-operate for the furtherance of Thy Kingdom." Is this a reference to the recent decision of the Welsh Free Church Council of Liverpool not to admit the Free Church of the Welsh into its ranks? Other rhapsodies in the same prayer are equally pointed.
After this it seemed the most natural thing in the world to hear prayer after prayer in which were heard the declarations, "I thank Thee, Lord, Thou hast given me the strength. I forgive all now. I beseech Thee to grant me Thy forgiveness." "No," declared the missioner, a little later, "It is not clear here yet. There are still some here who refuse to forgive.
They are stubbornly resisting the promptings of the Holy Spirit. They must not expect any sleep tonight. God in His own good time will deal terribly with each of them. May He have mercy upon them." The Rev. John Williams, speaking slowly and solemnly, asked the congregation to unite with him in the Lord's Prayer, and at once 1,800 people bent in supplication, and with faces lifted, offered in Welsh the Lord's Prayer, repeating with significant emphasis the passage referring to forgiveness. When the Welsh version is finished Miss Annie Davies leads the assembly in an equally fervent repetition of the same prayer in English. Then the revivalist, with face beaming with joy, exclaims, "At last, the Spirit is permitting us to sing. Let us then sing,
In the rendering of this noble hymn, the missioner himself leads the congregation, and then the incident is closed by Miss Annie Davies with an exquisite rendering of "Dyma Feibl Anwyl lesu" wedded to the music of "The Last Rose of Summer."
"Will those who would like to love Jesus, put their hands up?" The question is put by the Rev. John Williams, and there is prompt response. Every arm in the building is uplifted. The revivalist claps his hands with very joy.
Soon afterwards many converts were enrolled, among the names called out being that of Mr. - - who, it was explained by the Rev. Thomas Gray, "is a brother of the Rev. - - a well-known South Wales minister." "Oh," retorts the missioner, "he has found a better brother in Jesus tonight. "
It was a long way past ten ere this remarkable service ended. While it proceeded members of the Y.M.C.A. of Birkenhead conducted an equally remarkable open-air service outside the chapel, where many thousands were gathered.
Old Feuds Healed. Saturday.
At the Birkenhead meeting last night the hindrance mentioned by the revivalist was the presence in the congregation of people who refused to forgive their enemies. Today I have received full details (including names, addresses, etc.) of an incident which in this connection will be read with interest. There were present at the meeting a brother and a sister, both advanced in years, who for 20 years had not spoken to each other. Every effort at reconciliation had failed. During the stress of those never-to-be-forgotten moments, when the revivalist depicted the sinfulness of hatred and the duty of forgiveness, both agreed to forgive and forget, and to seek reconciliation. Outside the chapel the two accidentally met, mutually embraced, craved each other's pardon, and then walked home together linked arm-in-arm.
Five Envious Persons. - A Dramatic Accusation. - Service for Non-
LIVERPOOL, Saturday Night, April 1 1905
A special meeting exclusively for non-adherents is surely a novel feature even in a revival which, from its beginning, has been run on unusual lines. The idea of organising such a gathering was conceived in Liverpool, and tonight we witness in Liverpool the first attempt to carry the idea into practice. On paper the arrangements were perfect. Hundreds of pink tickets were distributed exclusively, so we were officially assured, to non-adherents, while canvassers who were responsible for bringing these "esgeuluswyr" once more within hearing of the evangel, were supplied with white tickets, securing their own admittance only on condition that they brought one or more nonadherents with them. This is the first of three similar ticket meetings to be held during Mr. Roberts's visit to the city.
Very often, alas, the best laid schemes "gang agley," and tonight's effort, from all appearance, has not been the success it was hoped for. What than is lacking? Certainly not enthusiasm. The crowd is greater than ever. Shaw Street Chapel, in which we are now assembled, is the chapel of the Welsh Wesleyans, where the late Egiwysbach ministered for some years, and is possibly one of the most commodious places of worship to be found in the north end of the city. Now at 6.50, 20 minutes after the doors were thrown open, it is packed from floor to ceiling.
Looking at the congregation from the pulpit end, what do we see? Ministers and preachers of all denominations clustered in and about the pulpit pew; deacons and leading church workers, whom we recognise as having met at previous gatherings - they are all here with zeal and vigour undiminished. Scan the pews closely and critically, and note how they are crowded with well-dressed men and women - typical chapel goers, every one of them. And if you are in any doubt on that point listen to the singing! In what church or chapel in all Wales can you hear 'a heartier, a fuller-throated, a more soulful and "hwyliog" rendering than this of the music of the sanctuaries of Cymru? There is not a single hymn book in view on balcony or floor. Close your eyes, and as you hear hymn and prayer and testimony and confession, you can emphatically declare that this is a Welsh valley where revivalism is at fever heat. This a congregation of non-adherents? Have the Mission Committee been befooled on this first day of April?
When on the point of putting this very question to one of the officials, my ear caught a few phrases of protest from the Rev. W. 0. Evans (Wesleyan), Bootle. He is in the set fawr, and facing the audience makes a pointed appeal - "Outside there are hundreds of non-adherents with tickets, but they cannot come in. Will those in the audience who are Christian members quit the building and make room for some of them? "What a fine opportunity this for the exercise of a little Christian self-denial. But no; so far as I can see there is scarcely any movement. The appeals fall on deaf ears, and the next minute we are caught in the mighty sweep of another Welsh hymn. Turning to the Rev. W. O. Evans I ask, "Are there any non-adherents here?" and the sorrowful reply is, "There are hundreds of church members:" "Nay," said a voice behind him, "there are hundreds of esgeuluswyr, too. We have been bringing them in by the score all the afternoon, in cabs, in wagonettes, and by trams. Many of us have been for hours after non-adherents, just as on election days we run after the voters."
All this of course may be, but what business have these church members at all in this meeting, arranged for those who are outside the pale of the Christian churches? How obtained they the tickets? Have non-adherents been trafficking with the passports supplied them? Outside, as I write, many hundreds have assembled who have come by a late afternoon train from Wrexham, Rhos, and other districts in North Wales in their eagerness to attend one of the Liverpool meetings; but, alas! they are turned away disappointed.
From six to seven, the meeting is more or less in charge of the pastor of Shaw Street. the Rev. Robert Lewis, and others in and around the platform include the Revs. Griffith Ellis, M.A., Bootle (C.M.); W. O. Evans, Bootle (Wesleyan); Thomas Hughes (Wesleyan); Owen Owens, Anfield (C.M.); John Hughes, M.A., Fitzclarence Street (C.M.); J. D. Evans. B.A. (C.M.); David Powell (B.); John Hughes, BA., B.D. Princes Road (C.M.); Hawen Rees (C); O. L. Roberts ('C.), Tabernacle; D. C. Edwards, M.A. (C.M.), Llanbedr; Hugh Roberts (C.M.); E. J. Evans (C.M.), Walton; Thomas Charles Williams, M.A. (C.M.), Menai Bridge.
It is 7. 15. Here comes the missioner. What's this change? Swiftly mounting the pulpit he stands facing the vast congregation with delight in every feature. Is this he who last night at that memorable Birkenhead meeting threatened a terrified congregation with Divine wrath? The pain, the sorrow, the anguish, the pity, and the anger then reflected in his countenance are apparently gone - all gone. The Evan Roberts whom we now see is the smiling, jovial, light-hearted, merry evangelist who in the early days of the revival spread the gospel of hope and joy through the mining valleys of South Wales. What has happened?
There is tonight, no suggestion of that mood of reticence and reserve, which have hitherto marked his appearance in Liverpool. Bending over the pulpit desk he beams with delight upon the congregation. His face wreathed in captivating smiles. Some one starts a hymn as he is about to speak, and someone else cries "Hush." "Nay. nay," replies the evangelist, "you sing on, sing on," and thus encouraged, we have hymn after hymn, and prayer after prayer, now in English, now in Welsh and as often as not half a dozen engaged in public prayer together. Suddenly Annie Davies's voice rings through the building, and there is instant silence. In the middle of her solo she is overcome with emotion: the solo is turned into a sobbing prayer, Turning to the audience, we observe hundreds in silent tears who a moment ago were jubilant singers. But it is only a gentle summer shower, and anon the clouds pass away, and all is sunny again.
A few minutes later the missioner is on his feet with a new-found text. It was evidently suggested to him by the prayer of the Rev. W. O. Evans, who in his supplications had asked that their ears be attuned to hear the voice of Jesus. "This is His voice," declares Evan Roberts, "Come unto Me all ye that are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest" -
On this favourite verse, the young preacher founded a bright, winsome address, in which it was shown how the needs of the 'fallen race were more than met by the love of Christ. He alone could relieve us of burdens. "Come," and the missioner beckons again and again, as if addressing individuals in the audience. "Come! Come!" What tenderness, what pathos, what loving-kindness, he throws into this one word, "Come!" "You have fallen to 'the depths, some of you," he continues, "but Jesus has not yet given you up. His word is still 'Come.' When to come? Jesus has no special hour of call. Come early, come every hour, every minute, every second. You feel too weak? He will give you strength. Naked? He will clothe you. Steeped in sin? He will cleanse and purify you and attire you in a royal robe, a robe that shall cover not filth and iniquity, but purity, and a purity that will whiten the robe."
A Prediction and its Fulfilment.
The speaker is silent. For a moment he surveys the congregation with love-lit eyes, and then remarks, in a low, soft, musical voice: "When I came in, this place was full of angels. There is a fierce battle now going on here. Who is going to win? Jesus Christ." Again he pauses, again we have silence, and hundreds are in an expectant attitude as if listening for the flutter of angel wings. "Think not," is the next remark, "that this great effort of yours in Liverpool is going to fail. No, there is too much love in it for failure."
A little later he again embarks upon a prophecy. "Are there some who are to come to Him tonight? Yes. How do I know? Because I have asked that it shall be so, and because I have the assurance that it shall be so. Jesus is waiting to relieve your burdens, and scores of you here are going to yield yourselves up to Him tonight and when the burden is removed you can then sing in the day and sing in the night (canu'r dydd a chanu'r nos). There will be then no night, for you will be with Him, Who is the Light."
Just at this moment, as we marvel at the prophecy, and wonder whether we shall witness its fulfilment, Miss Annie Davies's voice is heard softly rendering Sankey's hymn in Welsh, "Os caf lesu, dim ond lesu" ("If I have Jesus, Jesus only ").
"This is the beginning of glorious times in Liverpool." The speaker is the Rev. John Williams, of Princes Road, who now stands at the pulpit desk. With tact and delicacy he proceeds to test the meeting. "All who want to love Jesus, will they raise their hands?
A second invitation is not needed, every hand is up. "Da lawn." remarks the reverend gentleman; "but if you really desire to love Him, your place is inside, not outside the churches."
When those who were already members of churches were asked to stand, about two-thirds of the congregation sprang to their feet. Ah! I thought so. Non-adherents are in a hopeless minority. In less than a second the set fawr is emptied. Ministers and officials who had sat there are now rapidly threading their way in and out of the crowded congregation in all parts of the building in search of stricken ones.
The net having been thrown out is drawn in. We now see the prediction fulfilled. Dozens of repentant sinners are discovered, some prostrate with grief, others engaged in prayers, and still others too overcome to speak.
Names of converts are called out in apparently endless succession. I keep record up to 30 and even 40 and then the names come in too rapidly and in batches, and I am unable to follow. This must rank amongst the most successful meetings that even this unrivalled revivalist has ever held.
Surely he must be overjoyed. Where is he?
While the congregation are, for the sixtieth time, singing Diolch Iddo, Byth am goflo llwch y llawr," I try to discover the missioner, who for ten minutes past has been silent. Ah, there he is at the far end of the pulpit, his 'face buried in his hands as if weeping. Why this mood, when all is so bright? We see signs of a coming storm.
Returning to the pulpit, the Rev. John Williams announces "There are scores here engaged in a bitter struggle. Let us pray for them," and at the word the Rev. Owen Owens leads the congregation to the throne of grace, and he is followed by dozens of others in English and Welsh. Meanwhile a lady in the congregation, with a rich contralto voice, gives a perfervid rendering of the sacred solo, "There is life for a look," and presently a thousand voices join exultantly in the refrain.
But we are suddenly pulled up by the missioner. With both arms raised he sternly demands silence. He is in tears, and his brow is clouded. What's wrong? "Don't sing." He speaks with a voice that is choked.
"Don't sing. Oh, the tragedy of it. When salvation has been secured by so many, the Spirit has suddenly departed, and some of you know the reason." Why? The congregation looks bewildered, failing to detect the slightest reason for the interruption, and possibly many resent it. A minister, more courageous than his brethren, calls out, "Here is another soul crying for rescue. Let us rejoice." "No," replied the missioner, with increased severity, "Don't sing, Diolch (thanks); there's no Diolch due to some who are here, though there is praise due to Heaven for all that."
Then with scorn-flashing eyes, clenched fists, and in a heightened voice he exclaims, "Some of you are jealous, envious (eiddigeddus) because of the rescue work that has been accomplished, and you who are guilty must at once ask God to forgive you - yea, to bend you. This, oh this, is awful. Men jealous because Christ is being glorified! "
A thrill of something akin to horror passed over all present at this extraordinary pronouncement. In the pulpit, on the gallery, on the ground floor, everywhere around us, men and women cry out in prayer.
The air is full of the sounds of moaning. The missioner, as he bends with closed eyes over the pulpit desk groans as if in physical pain. The moaning gives way to loud, and bitter lamentations. Women shriek, and many are on the point of fainting. The situation is excruciatingly painful, almost intolerable. Well-known ministers exchange despairing glances.
"Plyga nhw, O! Dduw" (" Bend them, O Lord") cries the missioner, and the prayer is repeated by hundreds of others, who are kneeling.
Clear as a bell rises the resonant voice of Mr. William Evans, of Newshani Drive, one of the deacons of Anfield, and an ex-member of the Liverpool City Council. "Forbid it, Lord " - this is his supplication - "that there should be any elder brothers among us tonight." "But there are," swiftly rejoins the missioner, "and these persons have not yet asked for forgiveness. They are the obstacles. In the Name of the Lord I ask them to go out or bend. Let us as one great army again beseech the Lord to bend them."
And once again the building resounds to the earnest, almost hysterical, pleadings of hundreds. Presently, the terror increases, when the missioner, having presumably received a still further revelation, commits himself to a still more definite statement - "There are five persons here who are obstacles. Will you five go out or seek forgiveness? We shall not be allowed to sing or to test the meeting, nor shall we see any mere saved here until something happens. If this proceeds much longer, perhaps the names of the five shall be revealed to me."
Wild and Delirious Scenes.
What is to be done? The scenes now witnessed are wild and delirious. Tension is at breaking point. A happy thought occurs to the Rev. W. O. Evans, a Wesleyan minister. Perhaps, the five are Englishmen who do not understand that they are rocks of offence, and, presumably, with a view to enlighten them, the minister breaks forth into an English prayer for a relief of the crisis that has arisen. But the missioner forbids him to proceed.
"They are not English friends," he cries, "they are Welsh, all five of them." "Save them, Lord," a woman prays. "No, no," excitedly interrupts the revivalist, "don't pray; God is not listening; Heaven is locked against us, as it were. Three of the five are preachers of the Gospel. There is a terrible ordeal in store for the five."
It needs a more graphic pen than mine to depict the sensation produced by this declaration. "Five men, three of them preachers." This is the statement, and inferentially it is a statement made under Divine inspiration. It is received with loud and general exclamation of "Oh, dear oh, dear!" in tones of mingled pain and astonishment.
The uppermost feeling seems to be one of utter despair, and I experience an uneasy feeling that unless this acute tension is speedily relieved there may be a panic. The Rev. John Williams, standing in the pulpit behind the missioner, who is bent as if in a trance over the desk, appears to share this disquietude, for, placing one hand firmly on the missioner's shoulder, he with the other beckons silently to the congregation to depart. A few take the hint, and frantically endeavour to push their way out. The great mass remains, anticipating developments. Then Mr. Williams, resolved to take no more risks, quietly makes a few simple announcements, and without consulting the missioner pronounces the benediction and declares the meeting over.
Just at this moment Mr. Evan Roberts stands upright, and realising what is happening, turns an affrighted glance to the minister and assumes an attitude of protest. Then appealing to the congregation he cries: "No, don't go out. Pray! Pray! Pray! We cannot leave until Christ is glorified. This meeting is not a failure. It is a success. There will be no envy after tonight. God is awful in Zion. Woe be unto those who are obstacles; woe be unto those who are obstacles."
A section of the congregation makes another attempt to sing, and the hymn "Dyma Gariad fel y moroedd" is started, but the revivalist peremptorily calls upon them to stop. "No, there is to be no singing just yet. We may have singing presently. It is beginning to lighten. You can pray as much as you like, but the only subject of prayer now must be these five. No praise, and no prayers for salvation."
Five minutes later, after innumerable prayers have been offered, singly and in chorus, Evan Roberts, with face streaming with tears, declares that "All who are here must before they retire to rest tonight interceed to God on behalf of the five. Now we shall sing, and let us sing.
Or who has grace so rich and free ? - President Davies.
There is no need to repeat the permission. The congregation seizes the opportunity with avidity, and finds refreshing relief for its pent-up feelings in the noble strains of "Huddersfield."
Still the congregation is loth to depart, though 10 o'clock is now long past. Miss Roberts reads the story of the prodigal son, punctuating it with quaint and picturesque comments as she proceeds. After this the meeting is again tested, and a shoal of converts is added to the already large list.
Above the clock sits a man, who to the stewards has declared he cannot surrender, for he is not ready. Under the gallery is another man, of whom it is announced that he lacks not in knowledge of the plan of salvation, but he declines to surrender. Looking in turn at the two, the revivalist is heard to remark. sotto voce, that the man over the clock will give in, but the one under the gallery is to be left alone. A few minutes later the first-named is seen to collapse in a paroxysm of grief. He has surrendered, and once more the chapel rings with the strains of "Diolch lddo". This brings the total number of converts at this one meeting up to 70.
In response to the missioner's request the congregation stands, and in one great volume of sound repeats after him, thrice in Welsh and thrice in English, the verse, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "There," he declares, "that verse will ring for years to come in the ears of scores that are present, and let none of you come into any more of these meetings without first asking God to save."
"This," declares the Rev. John Williams, "has been a meeting we shall remember for ever, but we who are church members have room to show more of the spirit of self-denial. A large number of non-adherents, for whom this meeting was intended, have been turned away because hundreds of you members who are here ought to have been at home." Thus ended one of the most remarkable gatherings yet held.
Back to the city I travelled with a number of Liverpool Pressmen, to whom this had been a first experience of the revival. "What think ye of it all?" asked one of the others. "My thoughts are too tumultuous for expression," was the reply elicited, "but this man Roberts seems to me to be beyond human comprehension."
On Sunday, Mr. Evan Roberts enjoyed a rest, but in the afternoon accompanied by the Rev. John. Williams, he paid a surprise visit to the Princes Road Welsh C.M. Sunday School, and there officiated at a distribution of prizes.
The Missioner as Thought Reader.
The startling declaration of Mr. Evan Roberts at the Shaw-street meeting on Saturday night that there were present five persons envious of the work of saving souls then proceeding, and that three of the five were preachers of the gospel will be recalled.
A Liverpool barrister, in a letter to the "Liverpool Daily Post," writes "I was present at the meeting and at that period when the names of converts were being taken. A minister was standing close behind me. Just then another minister came up to him having a piece of paper, apparently with the names of converts on it. The latter minister said to the first minister in reference to a young man whose name he had taken, and who had prayed with great fervour, "It's all humbug," and then went on to mention a charge, which would show that the said young man was not fit to be a member of a church. Then the first minister began to speak about Evan Roberts, and said, 'I have heard him at Princes-road and at Anfield, and I see nothing in him! The second minister agreed, saying, 'I see nothing in him either.' It was shortly after this that Evan Roberts went into a paroxysm, and made the declaration about the five persons - three of them ministers - who were full of envy and jealousy. I relate the story without any comment. Evan Roberts certainly has the rare gift of saying the right thing at the right moment."
This letter has aroused great interest, and is being keenly discussed. The writer, however, is not quite correct. Mr. Evan Roberts did not say, "Three of them were ministers." His exact words were, "Tri yn pregethu yr efengyl" (three of them preachers of the gospel).
In private conversation afterwards the same evening Mr. Evan Roberts said, "They were preachers, not ministers. The fourth was the son of a minister, and the fifth the son of a deacon."
Church Members Denounced. - Missioner Prohibits a Test. - Congregation Abruptly Dismissed.
LIVERPOOL, Monday, April 3, 1905.
Liverpool is stirred to its very depth. The scenes witnessed at Shaw-street Chapel on Saturday night are described as unprecedented in the religious history of the city, and since then citizens have been, and still are, discussing the young Welsh missioner, his attractive and magnetic personality, the novelty of his methods, the astounding results of his efforts, and all that pertains to him, with eagerness. Nor is the interest confined to Liverpool. North Wales is said to be seething with excitement, and today several "specials" poured hundreds of visitors from the northern counties into the city.
Calling this morning at the office of Councillor Henry Jones, one of the hon. secretaries of the Liverpool Committee, I was shown a pile of hundreds of letters received by that day's post from correspondents from far and wide, pleading, yea, craving, for admission tickets, while similar requests poured incessantly into the office by telegrams and telephone.
"Then," I asked, "why not solve the problem by centralising all the meetings henceforth in the Torrey-Alexander pavilion?" "The committee," replied the Councillor, "would have no objection to do so, but we cannot secure Mr. Evan Roberts's consent."
According to the original arrangements, tonight's principal meeting should have been held at the Park-road Welsh Congregational Chapel, of which the pastor is the Rev. O. R. Owen, late of Glandwr. Park-road is in the south, and within five minutes' ride of the centre of the city. Mr. Owen and his deacons realised this morning that their chapel, with 800 sittings, would prove hopelessly unequal to the occasion. In their difficulty they appealed to their neighbours, the English Baptists, and as a result we are now assembled in the Toxteth Tabernacle.
Two thousand people are inside now at six o'clock. Park Road Congregational Chapel was likewise packed when I passed it half an hour ago, and a message has just arrived stating that Mount Zion (Wesleyan), Princes Road (Calvinistic Methodist), and Chatham Street (Calvinistic Methodist), all in the south end, are already crowded out. Outside Toxteth Tabernacle at the moment of writing is a crowd of at least three or four thousand with keen disappointment depicted on every face. A posse of Welsh constables from the Liverpool police force are having a warm time of it, for there have been threats muttered of storming the railings and forcing admission.
Marshals, standing on the curb inside the railings, try to pacify the crowd, and earnestly entreat them to disperse. "No," replies one, "turn out the ministers to make room for some of us sinners." Had the speaker surveyed the crowd he would have realised that there was less sting in this remark than he doubtless thought, for among the disappointed ones were at least a dozen well-known ministers.
Subsequently inside, the Rev. O. R. Owen urged local ministers to leave the building to conduct overflow meetings outside, and dozen responded. The officials of the committee are loud in their praises of the very substantial and sympathetic help rendered them by the chief constable and his staff. It is recognised that but for their intervention a panic, with disastrous results, might have occurred on more than on occasion recently.
As I sit under the pulpit and scan this magnificent audience, I wonder how many unsaved ones are among it. If heartiness of singing and fervency of prayers count for anything, then a large proportion are church members. Of course, this is an open meeting, and admission was regulated on the principle of first come first served, and we must not overlook the fact that one of the characteristics of the present revival is the conversion of actual church members.
Young people of both sexes are here in great numbers, and scores of them take part in the prayers. Here is a supplicant for a baptism of the Spirit on the young of all lands. Over there is a young lady who mid sobs and tears entreats that she be permitted to take some of the fire from Liverpool back to her Welsh home. An old man in the baleony recites the revival miracles he has witnessed during the last few weeks. There is plenty of spontaneity, and the hwyl is in creasing momentarily.
Here come the missioner and his party. It is 10 minutes past 7. With him in the pulpit are Miss Annie Davies and Miss Mary Roberts, the Rev. John Williams, the Rev. O. R. Owen, the Rev. Dr. Phillips, Tylorstown, the Rev. William Jones (Crosshall Street), and the Rev. T. Charles Williams, Menai Bridge.
What is this extraordinary influence? Evan Roberts has scarcely arrived ere we are conscious of an appreciable increase in the fervour of the meeting. A deeper spiritual note is struck in all the prayers. A woman who is now on her feet is uttering a prayer of overwhelming intensity and eloquence, and the "Amenau" are deafening. She pleads for many blessings "for the sake of Jesus Christ."
What is the missioner's mood tonight? He sits with closed eyes in the pulpit chair. He has not been well this afternoon, so we learn. He looks sombre, and not a single smile has yet lit his face.
"Er mwyn lesu Grist" A woman in prayer utters the words, and the missioner, facing the audience, slowly and solemnly repeats the phrase, "Er mwyn Iesu Grist" (for Jesus Christ's sake). He seizes upon this as his text, and founds upon it a short address of remarkable power. Oh that we could have seen the full depth of those four words, "for Jesus Christ's sake." Many present, he continues, had already refused to do anything for Jesus Christ's sake, and it would have been better for such had they not sung some of the hymns rendered that evening. It was very easy to cry out "Amen" and to sing. Nothing more simple, but what was needed was work, work, work - for Jesus Christ's sake. They could enjoy seeing others having a hwyl, but they could not have the hwyl themselves because they had refused to work. Let them beware lest they crowded into the house of God merely to enjoy themselves. Some who had disobeyed the promptings of the Spirit that evening were members of Christian churches. They were not at one with the Christ Whose name they professed to bear. Many present were not at one with one another.
They prayed for a downpour, but the Spirit would never come to a heart that harboured rancour and enmity. Others prayed for the fire from heaven before they had even erected an altar and prepared a sacrifice.
What was this but a mocking of God? When the fire came it would come to destroy some things; it would burn and consume some things; it would purify other things. Were they ready to receive such fire?
At this moment an exciting scene was witnessed. At the far end of the gallery opposite the pulpit a middle-aged man sprang to his feet, and in a prayer pitched at the top of his voice made pointed reference to the controversy that led to the secession in Liverpool from the Calvinistic Methodists of those who now form the Free Church of the Welsh. "There is," he exclaimed, "an old quarrel in Liverpool. Ministers of the Lord Jesus have declined to forgive. O Lord, bend the Liverpool ministers and compel them to forgive."
Loud-voiced and violent as was the prayer, it was almost drowned by another man, who also in a prayer made similar references to the same fend, and added, "They have refused tickets to our young people to the Sun Hall, but, thank God, the road is free to heaven." For a minute or two the missioner cast scrutinising looks at both men, and then in a peremptory tone ordered both to sit down.
The command had several times to be repeated before it was complied with. "There is no need to name anything to Gods" was the missioner's subsequent comment. "He knows everything. The brother there thought possibly that in my remarks I was alluding to something or other. I know all about it, but I had nothing in my mind at the moment, save a knowledge of the hindrances that exist at this meeting." After a deep hush of some moments' duration Mr. Evan Roberts added in a low voice, "Don't think, friends, that the service is stopped; it is going on splendidly now. It is easy for each one of you to find out whether it is clear or not between you and God, or clear between you and a fellow-man. If everything is not clear between you and your enemy, it will never, never become clear between you and God."
For the next ten minutes we had a succession of prayers, and in every one there was an earnest plea for peace and forgiveness. "Maddeu er mwyn y Gwaed" (forgive us for the sake of the Blood) cried one, and another asked that they be taught to look above the ministers to Christ Himself. A little later the painful incident became quite forgotten. Miss Annie Davies gave a beautiful rendering of "Nearer my God to Thee," and then the great audience abandoned itself to a veritable feast of hymn singing.
If incidents were not numerous for the next hour, the proceedings certainly did not lack in interest. The wildness, not to say the frenzy, that marked some previous gatherings was entirely absent. We enjoyed rather an atmosphere of pure devotion. Only once was a jarring note struck. That was when a man in prayer asked forgiveness for "the brother who had tried to raise a disturbance here an hour ago, and who may have been the means of hardening hundreds of hearts." The voice was promptly drowned by a hymn.
After an hour's silence Mr. Evan Roberts is again on his feet. He gently remonstrates with the congregation for its unreadiness to respond to the promptings of the Spirit. "I have been quiet; don't think I have come here to create a fire; it is God that gives the fire; listen to His promise - "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world. Place all reliance upon that promise. God reveals Himself fullest to the congregation that yields itself absolutely to worship. What are the hindrances tonight? How many of you have prayed before coming to the service? Not one half of you. Hundreds of you are being moved by the Spirit this moment. Will you still disobey?"
Suddenly, as by magic, the whole character of the meeting changed. No sooner had the query been put than scores of voices were heard in prayer. The painful scene witnessed at Shaw-street was now repeated in all its intensity. Women screamed, cried, fainted. The Rev. Dr. Phillips, of Tylorstown, sought to end the scene by putting the meeting to the usual test, but the revivalist abruptly stopped him. An attempt to start a hymn was similarly treated, Mr. Evan Roberts remarking, "There is to be no testimony, no singing, until these hindrances are removed. Are you going to permit Jesus thus to be robbed of His glory? Pray, hundreds of you, that the hindrance be removed," and the injunction is literally obeyed.
Meanwhile, the revivalist throws 'himself into a chair as if in a paroxysm of pain. The attack is of short duration tonight, for presently he is again on his feet, exclaiming, "Praise heaven, because your prayers have been answered." The statement is received with joy, and the congregation bursts into a perfervid rendering of "Marchog lesu yn Llwyddiannus."
The Rev. O. R. Owen's attempt to test the meeting is, however, unceremoniously cut short. "No, no," cries the revivalist, who is now pale and shivering, "there is to be no testing just yet. Some of those who hindered are gone out, but some still remain. God has been very longsuffering with these hindrances, but He will soon sweep them away like chaff before the wind. He will not permit the Gospel to be thus obstructed. It has cost Him too much, it has cost Him the blood of His only begotten Son." The storm has subsided; agonising prayers give way to testimonies; and simultaneously a confusing number are on their feet reciting various portions of Scripture.
It is now 10. 15. People are getting uncomfortable and many have left the building, but their places are speedily filled by others. The revivalist, with closed eyes, is resting his head on his hand, with his elbow on the pulpit desk, facing the audience. The Rev. John Williams announces that at the Park-road meeting there have been several converts, and we receive the statement with "Diolch Iddo." So far, however, every attempt to test this congregation for converts has been stopped, and the revivalist shows no sign of relenting. Ald. Snape, one of the leading men of Liverpool, is seated in the pulpit, and apparently regards the proceedings with amazement. Prominent ministers in the pulpit whisper to the revivalist as if persuading 'him to close the meeting, but he waves them impatiently away.
Fifteen minutes more elapse, and then comes relief. "We shall now test the meeting," declares the missioner. "We were not permitted to do so before, but there are persons here who still stubbornly remain hindrances. Here is a command to them from God. 'Take care not to sing in a service any more, and take care not to take any public part.' It is not I that say this. It is God's command. These people are conscious that they are hindrances. Now do as you like with the command. But you will feel the hand of God upon you. A hand of love. Perhaps you think this service a singular one. But God is wonderful. You would have gone on singing, singing. It is not singing; it is purifying that we need. Don't be surprised if you see God showing some very great wonders in the immediate future. Now before we test the meeting let us all breathe a prayer for salvation."
There is a deep hush. Apparently all bow and pray. But the missioner is again displeased, and presently exclaims, "There is to be no testing tonight. There are church members here who have disobeyed. They refuse to pray for the salvation of souls in this meeting."
A startling statement this, and the audience appears mystified. Three times is the command given to pray, and three times the congregation is bent in an attitude of prayer. Surely all is now clear? "No," at last, exclaims the revivalist, in a tone of pity mingled with scorn. We are not going to have any testing tonight. There are church members here who still decline to pray. We shall have no testing, no singing, no praying.
The service is at an end. You can now go home. This is not the first time that a service has thus ended." He closed the Bible and resumed his seat. It is within a few minutes to 11 o'clock. Slowly the huge congregation files out of the building more mystified than ever. The question is on hundreds of lips, What meaneth all this?"
Where is the Mocker? - Unique Service at Seacombe.
SEACOMBE, CHESHIRE, Tuesday. April 4, 1905.
Tonight the Welsh revivalist, Mr. Evan Roberts, is on a visit to the Welsh population who, to the number of many thousands, reside on this Cheshire side of the Mersey. At 5 o'clock an enormous crowd of visitors from Liverpool are assembled outside the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church in Liscard-road. They are early for a 7 o'clock meeting, and yet they are too late, for the chapel has been full for some time, and arrangements are being made for overflow meetings.
Scanning the congregation, I judge it to be on the whole a gathering of suburban swelldom, with a fair sprinkling of visitors from the North Wales counties. Ministers are here from as far south as Aberystwyth, and the Vale of Clwyd has sent a large contingent. The Rev. Lodwig Lewis, the pastor of the church, opens with a prayer of remarkable fervour.
Some of his phrases are unique, and reflect the attitude of the public mind here towards the young missioner from Loughor - "Forbid, O Lord, that there be tonight any hindrances to the operation of Thy Holy Spirit. Ease the burden that weighs on Thy prophet, and sustain him with Thy strength. Many prophets of old have been unequal to the burden. Sustain this young prophet, Lord, and help him to give us Thy Message. He is young, he was unknown. From the mountains sendest Thou him with a message of joy to a perishing world."
Suburban swelldom or not, these Welsh people of Seacombe and Liscard are full of the spirit of the revival. As in Wales, so here, the eloquence of the women in speech and in prayer sweeps everything before it. A whole chapter of St. John with its touching picture of the incidents of the upper room and the Last Supper, has just been reverently recited from memory by a lady with rare elocutionary power, and now we are listening to a passionate prayer by a servant girl, who has the broad Snowdonian dialect.
English? There is heard scarcely a word other than Welsh at these Liverpool meetings. We are in England, but the bilingual difficulty is far less acute here as yet than we have seen it at Glamorgan gatherings, and yet at every meeting scores are present of nationalities other than Welsh, athirst for some of the spirit that has come in copious showers on the people of Wales.
Sometimes we learn something of the identity of those participating in the services. On Friday at Anfield a grey-headed lady in the set fawr, who once or twice essayed to pray, was the daughter of the great John Jones, of Talvsarn. As I write now, we are listening to an impassioned prayer offered by the youngest daughter of the no less eminent divine the late Dr. Owen Thomas, of Liverpool.
We were all looking forward to a bright and sunny service when the missioner, shortly after 7 o'clock, faced the expectant congregation. So many fervent prayers had already been offered for the removal of hindrances, and such an intense spirit of reverence seemed to dwell in the hearts of all present, that there seemed every prospect of our hopes being realised. The missioner started in a pleasant mood. "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle?" "You can all answer," he remarked; "those who walk uprightly, who work righteousness, who do that which is just, who have truth in their hearts, who backbite not with their tongues."
A cloud gathers on his brow. He suddenly ceases to speak, closes the Bible, and surveys the congregation. Then, after a deep and solemn hush, painfully prolonged, he declares in a low voice, audible, however, in every corner of the building: - "There are some of you here tonight who cannot look back at your past; the thought of it horrifies you. Why? Because you have not walked uprightly. Because there is something in your past you would hide, but it has not been hidden. You may hide it from men. Don't waste your time in trying to hide it from the Almighty. Once let it be hidden by the Almighty, and it will not be revealed through all eternity. Otherwise, everything must come to light. YOU have need to wash your hands."
Another prolonged silence ensues. The missioner, with lowered brow and piercing eyes, seems to be scrutinising the congregation into its very heart. "Ask the Lord" - His words are scarcely above a whisper - "Ask the Lord to bury your past, but before doing that you must confess Him. We must be cleansed ere we can truly worship a God Who is holy. The Welsh poet said,
(a day of severe testing will soon overtake religion). Heaven be praised, that day has come. God is cleansing and purifying the temples these days."
A little later the missioner again speaks. "Fear reigns in many hearts here - a fear of judgment, a fear of light. Some of you are trying to deceive the Almighty this very minute!
Suddenly he stands erect, and with eyes flashing and voice full of anger loudly exclaims, "Where is the mocker tonight? (It was not until I returned, about midnight, from this meeting, to the Liverpool Press Club, that I realised the full force and meaning of this query of the missioner.
At the club I met the representative of the Daily Mail and the Daily Dispatch, both of whom had been at the Seacombe meeting. An hour before Mr. Evan Roberts arrived," so ran the story they related to me, "we were joined in the chapel by Mr. - , the representative of - , a well known Socialist organ. This was his first revival meeting. He treated the incidents lightly, indulged in sneering and sarcastic remarks at the expense of the worshippers, and generally played the part of the scoffing sceptic. Judge then our surprise when we heard that startling~ query of the Revivalist.
'Where is the mocker?' But our surprise was turned into sheer amazement later, when shortly after the sceptic had left us, Mr. Roberts suddenly cried out, 'It is clear now. We shall do everything for He is receiving our worship now!" I give the incident without comment. - Gwilym Hughes.)
He may have come here to laugh and mock. How sayeth the Psalmist, 'The Lord will mock them'? Some are here mocking the work of the Lord and despising the Blood of the Covenant. (A pause). Will no one here utter a prayer that this mockery be removed?"
In rapid succession, for the next fifteen minutes, prayer after prayer in English and Welsh ascend. "God be praised, it is beginning to lighten," remarks the missioner at last, "Let us all pray that all the obstacles here to the spirit of true worship be removed, and, as you pray, believe."
The congregation kneels, and silent prayers are offered. The silence, the hush, is awe-inspiring. A woman in the audience who starts a Welsh hymn is commanded to cease, the missioner remarking, "No matter how great our thirst is for a successful service, Heaven is still more athirst. Some of you want to sing with great hwyl, but the Spirit forbids. Before we can get hwyl we must get purity, else we shall be building on the sand.'
After a vivid word picture of the omniscience of God, the revivalist, who has the entire audience hanging on his lips, remarks, "Some of you fled into the darkness in an endeavour to escape from God. You have been found out, and tonight God is turning your darkness into light. Oh! that the day would come when every unworthy servant is swept out of the church, or that he is made worthy. Oh, that the Lord would send an angel down to expose the hypocrites that are in this congregation."
Five minutes later, to all appearances, the hindrances are all gone, for the revivalist makes no further reference to them, but proceeds with an address of great power on the need of more consecration and strenuousness in the Christian life. A pathetic reference to Gethsemane brings Annie Davies to her feet with a sweetly pathetic rendering of "Cof am y Cyfiawn lesu" to the air of "Flee as a bird."
"There," exclaims the missioner, as the singer resumes her seat, "We shall do everything now. Sing, confess, pray, for He is receiving our worship now." The congregation received the announcement with evident relief, and presently we are listening to inspiring renderings of "Dyma Gariad," "Marchog lesu," and other old favourites.
There is a novelty in the test tonight, conducted by the Rev. John Williams. "All who desire to live better lives, to become more consecrated to the Lord and His work," is the first query. It is put in Welsh and in English, and when hands are raised the Rev. gentleman fails to see one that is not lifted. There are many, however, who are not church members. Of some it is said, after inquiry, that they do not desire to surrender just yet. Only one conversion is announced.
Sweetness and Joy. - A Sparkling Service.
LIVERPOOL, Wednesday, April 5, 1905.
Tonight we are assembled in the Crescent English Congregational Church, Everton Brow, which normally provides accommodation for 1,200. When this morning it was decided to substitute this building for the Welsh Tabernacle, which it was originally arranged Evan Roberts should visit tonight, the committee, with the consent of the Crescent- Church deacons, had a huge platform erected at the pulpit end running up almost to the ceiling. This increased the sitting capacity of the building by many hundreds.
Since four o'clock this chapel has been packed to suffocation; so have six others, all in Everton, and at each the proceedings are at fever heat. This is Evan Roberts's seventh meeting since his arrival in Liverpool, and he has ten more to address ere his mission ends. It is by no means certain that at the end of that time the revivalist will return to Glamorgan. He is being inundated with urgent appeals by letters and telegrams to visit North Wales, and a tour through Flintshire is already being arranged. Carnarvonshire and Anglesey are also likely to be visited, and a strong desire is expressed that the revivalist should visit Rhos, near Wrexham, where a remarkable revival broke out last November simultaneously with that at Loughor. By the way, the Rhos converts are very prominent at this meeting tonight. The Rev. Jonah Hughes, who comes from that district, has just concluded an address of great power, describing the marvellous changes he has witnessed in that corner of Denbighshire during the last few months.
The revivalist is late tonight. It is 7. 20, and he has not yet appeared. Can it be that we have been misinformed, and that this is not the meeting selected for his visit? Presently we are reassured on the point, for we learn that this afternoon, accompanied by the Rev. John Williams, he unexpectedly appeared at a ladies' Dorcas meeting at the David-street Chapel, where he delivered a short address. Then he was driven to West Derby for a short rest at the residence of Councillor Henry Jones, one of the secretaries of the local revival committee.
But here he is. It is 7. 30, and the meeting is in full swing. Never have I seen the revival tide rise higher. The prayers, the hymns, the testimonies, are all aglow. The word enthusiasm is hopelessly inadequate to describe the tone that prevails, and certainly it is not frenzy. There is an influence abroad that thrills the strongest.
"The Spirit is here!" are the revivalist's opening words. Is this the explanation of the phenomenon we witness? "But," he continues, "the great thing is to keep Him here, and the way to keep Him here is to give obedience." Presently he is speaking of duty. Had all present done their duty that day in their respective spheres? Could they look to Heaven without trembling? Could they look every man in the face without blushing? Could they look up to Jesus and say, not "our," but "my" Jesus? Were they always ready to listen to His Voice? Duty was the porch of Heaven. Christ walked along the path of duty to the bitter end, and then could look back, happy in the thought that all was finished. Christians often put off duty until they were compelled to attend to it. But Christ was in Bethany ready waiting six days before that memorable Passover.
After a pause, and looking up and down, he continued. "Is there no one here ready to say a word in His praise?" At once a man is on his feet in the body of the chapel. "Yes," he cries, "Dyma fi" (Yes, I am), and forthwith, in words of burning eloquence we are told of how the speaker - who, it seems, hails from Bethesda - has been rescued from a life of sin. The instrument of his conversion was Dan Roberts. "God be praised for raising Evan and Dan." "Amen" responds the whole congregation. "Ond lesu bia'r coron" (Let Jesus be crowned) we hear exclaimed in a woman's voice, and suddenly with one accord the congregation bursts into a rousing hymn of praise. A glorious meeting this.
When next he essays to address the meeting the revivalist, who has been visibly trembling for some minutes, appears unequal to the effort. Since yesterday morning, he declares, he has been yearning to see more of the glory of the Lord. He has been overwhelmed with the thought of the Kingship of Christ. Christ spoke as a Saviour He also spoke as a king. Further the speaker fails to proceed. His voice becomes choked with emotion.
"Dyma Gariad fel y moroedd" - The singer is Annie Davies. Liverpool audiences have not seen her in this mood before. Tonight she sings Hiraethog's grand hymn extolling the Saviour's love as one inspired. The congregation catches her spirit, and again we are carried away on a great overwhelming wave of ecstasy. Prayers and praise, hymns and testimonies fall from hundreds of lips, so that we are unable to distinguish one from another. I look around, and am unable to detect one dry eye and yet there is not a face in all this vast congregation that is not lit up with smiles.
Again the revivalist essays to speak and again he fails. What ails him? "Help him. O Lord." It is not one that offers the prayer. We hear it from all parts of the building. An hour ago it was a feast of music. Now it is a feast of prayers. No, the annals of the revival in South Wales have no more magnificent meeting on their records than this.
"What have you done for Jesus?" At last the missioner has found voice. "Some of you here have not even asked Him for forgiveness. Remember Jesus, think not of man. remember the promise, 'I am with you alway.' He not only strengthens, He watches over you too, The Christian should have no time for leisure. Be up and doing, going onward, forward, ever following Jesus in His footsteps, looking to Jesus in all things. Would you have a lesson in fidelity? Look to Jesus."
For forty minutes the revivalist speaks. He is in marvellous form. There is nothing he cannot do with this congregation. It is completely, absolutely under his spell, and is reflecting as a mirror his every mood. Now we smile, anon we are in tears, now a ripple of merriest laughter rings through the building every countenance flushed with joy. A second later the tears flow, again they are wiped away, and we are swept off in a mighty torrent of song. And the missioner cries "O! rwy'n Diolch i Dduw, dyma dyrfa yn addoli" (Praise God here we have pure worship).
Presently we are lost in admiration of a mellow tenor voice rendering with exquisite finish a Welsh sacred solo. Who is this white haired minister at prayer? He comes from Rhos so much is clear. Someone whispers in my ear, "The Rev. Robert Jones." His prayer commands attention. It is a psalm in praise of "a God that sings," a God that saves "dan ganu" (while singing). "Our young men of Rhos have been returning from Liverpool ere this helplessly drunk; tonight they will return rejoicing, filled with new wine."
Is this meeting to be wrecked? A young lady in the gallery, lost in prayer, is treading dangerous ground. "Thou knowest, Lord, we are in mortal terror of seeing Evan Roberts leave Liverpool before the old feud is healed. Oh, the breach in our churches is terrible! Remember the Welsh ministers in this town and bend them." As at Birkenhead, so here, this sore point being alluded to, someone starts a hymn, and the voice is drowned. The incident is not lost on the missioner, for presently he alludes to it - "We cannot avoid, I suppose, one bitter drop in our cup of sweetness. But no more if you please. One thing only we need here, the name of Jesus; that will sweeten and perfume everything."
Next comes the test, and this at the start is entrusted to the Rev. John Williams. Not for long, however, for the missioner, who is wonderfully aggressive tonight, takes the audience again in hand. The congregation is standing with hands raised, and the revivalist from the pulpit orders every church member to Work. "Look about you," is the imperative command, and say a word for Jesus to those who sit." Presently convert after convert is declared, and "Diolch Iddo" ascends again and again in an ever increasing swell of melody. "Here is one who declines." It is a jarring note, and comes from the gallery. "Ah," retorts the missioner, "let him praise heaven that God has not yet rejected him. Come, offer Jesus again. Do your best. The Holy Spirit is doing His best."
More converts, more jubilation. With both hands pressed on his perspiring temples, the missioner presently declares, while the congregation marvels, "There is somewhere in the audience one church member who is idle; he is ashamed to offer Jesus, and beside him there is a Welshman or Welshwoman in need of help to surrender." And at once, without a second's interval, the shrill voice of a woman rings in our ears. "Dyma fi'n d'od" (" Here I am coming.").
Then comes a second prediction. "There is still another to come. Look around," and turning swiftly around, facing the crowd on the gallery behind him, the missioner, while still speaking, discovers another convert there. A voice in the gallery exclaims, "Here is one that cannot come." "Has he said he 'will not?'" asks the missioner. "No," is the reply; "he says nothing." "Christ was silent once," is the rejoinder of the young preacher, "but He was right."
In a pause between the hymns of exultation Mr. Evan Roberts observes: - "Let us rejoice. The divine heart is a-thrill with joy tonight. If you see a man who rejoices not, depend upon it he 'has neither prayed nor worked! We can all rejoice, because we have tonight worked, and have given obedience. We have seen some miracles of His love tonight. Thank God for this great wave."
In compliance with the revivalist's request, the congregation sing the inspiring old hymn, "Ymgrymed pawb i lawr," Evan Roberts himself conducting. Then, after a united rendering in Welsh and English of the Lord's Prayer, the Rev. John Williams pronounced the benediction, and this remarkable service, which has been marked all through with joy and delight, is brought to a close by the singing of the Doxology. So far as could be ascertained the converts numbered between 15 and 16.
First Service at Bootle. - Remarkable Gathering. - Many Converts.
BOOTLE, Liverpool, Thursday, April 6, 1905.
Bootle is in Liverpool, but not of it. Skirting the city at its northern end, with New Brighton as its vis-a-vis on the opposite shore, it has a Corporation of its own, and has strenuously and successfully resisted every attempt made by the city to absorb it. For revival purposes, however, Bootle is in Liverpool. Hence this magnificent gathering tonight at the Stanley Road Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, so well known throughout Wales from its association with the Rev. Griffith Ellis, who is still its pastor. Bootle, too, has within its boundaries a great Welsh population, and here they are tonight, numbering many thousands, outside a chapel which has seating only for 850. Possibly about 1,200 are squeezed inside. They have been here since 5 o'clock. Now, at 6, the adjoining schoolroom is packed, and arrangements are being made for three or four overflow services in adjacent buildings.
This morning Mr. Evan Roberts was persuaded to leave Liverpool at an early hour. He spent the day at West Kirby, a popular resort in Cheshire, on the banks of the Dee estuary. He is being inundated with correspondence, but some of the letters addressed to him are couched in insulting terms, breathing anything but Christian charity; others come from recent converts who are full of the joy of a newfound peace. During the hour preceding the missioner's arrival at the meeting there are many incidents of interest, but the spiritual fervour experienced at the corresponding hour last evening is not yet apparent. I am reminded, however, that this is one of the three meetings set apart exclusively for non-adherents. As at Shaw Street, so here, the arrangement so attractive on paper has in practice been altogether ineffective. There are, no doubt, some scores of "esgeuluswyr" present, but the great majority are church members.
"There are hundreds here from North Wales," explains a minister who sits near me. "But," I suggest "If they are adherents they have no business to be here." "That is quite true but when people have travelled from great distances, you can scarcely refuse them tickets." But North Walians are not the only visitors from a distance. Over there is a deputation of Irish Protestants, headed by the Rev. C. Davey (head of the Evangelisation Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland).
France, too, is represented, for Pastor Parker, a Paris Wesleyan, has just been telling the congregation some wonderful news as to the spread of the revival on the Continent. Continental visitors who had heard Evan Roberts in South Wales had returned aflame with the Spirit, and the fire is now spreading there.
Would Wales he pleaded, not send a few red-hot revivalists to stir up their kinsmen in Brittany?
Suddenly we are conscious of a great increase of fervour. The spirit of prayer has fallen on the congregation, and when we least expect it a dozen are simultaneously on their feet engaged in eloquent supplications. The prayers of the women are broken with sobs. There are prayers for Evan Roberts, for those who have strayed, for those who are in the grip of demon-drink, for the salvation of Liverpool and the universe, "for the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof."
We are in the midst of a Welsh hymn when the missioner arrives. His appearance creates a flutter and causes a diversion. The singing flags, but only for a moment. When it is renewed there is in it more heart and more of the spirit of worship than we had yet tonight experienced. Five minutes later a striking prayer by Miss Annie Davies (Maesteg) throws the congregation into a veritable tornado of prayer and praise.
The revivalist is now on his feet. A day in the fresh air has done him good. (And yet, as it subsequently transpired, this was the very day when he met with an accident which nearly cost him his life – Gwilym Hughs) He is glad tonight, and there is gladness in his eyes as he looks about him. A crush at the door gives him his text. "Thank Heaven," is his remark, that so many came in through that door tonight, but soon we shall be going out again through the same door. There are two other doors - one leading to destruction, the other to eternal life. Once through either of those doors, there is no turning back."
Evidently the preacher has studied his congregation to some purpose. He enlarges upon the majesty of Man, quoting the Psalmist's words, I am tearfully and wonderfully made." Man could choose for himself how he would spend eternity. Heaven be praised that thousands entered through the narrow door these days, but although the door was narrow it could admit through its portals a whole world at once. Was anyone going through it tonight? It would not always be open. A time would come when it would be forever shut, when the keys would rust and the walls crumble!
A pause follows. Not a rustle is heard. Deep silence prevails throughout the building. The congregation gazes with fixed eyes upon the missioner, and the missioner reclining in his favourite attitude on the pulpit desk surveys the congregation. "But," he at last proceeds smilingly, "it is not now too late." Pointing to the Bible, he asks. "How would you feel if God sent His angel to this service to say - 'This (the Bible) is sealed, the meeting is over; out with you; no one again is ever to be offered eternal life?"
Does the speaker expect an answer? Not one is vouchsafed. The revivalist presently is drawing a vivid word picture of the great Physician. It was Satan that wounded. Could they not see his scars everywhere? But the great Physician healed, and when He healed, not even an archangel could detect the scar. He was ever at work on earth. There was no need of a physician in Heaven. There, all were whole. There was another place where all were suffering, but there was no physician there.
"Some have an idea," remarks the young preacher, referring, presumably, to the doctrine of the larger hope, "that He will journey from Heaven to the other place. Would that it were true! I would willingly believe it if this (the Bible) taught it."
A little later, after the missioner had addressed himself with great power to non-adherents, the congregation burst into a great chorus of sacred song, and the wild scene of half an hour ago is renewed. A young lady on the edge of the gallery utters a toughing petition. She is attired in mourning. "A short time since I lost my earthly father in this chapel. He is now with Thee, O Lord; and wilt Thou tell him that I am coming, too?" Many bitter tears are dropped. "Who is she?" I enquire. A friend enlightens me. "A short time ago her father, who was the precentor of this church, fell down dead in the pulpit pew."
The Rev. Abel J. Parry (ex-president of the Baptist Union of Wales) and the Rev. Griffith Ellis (ex-moderator of the General Assembly of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists) are next heard in fervent supplications. Soon the great gathering is again at white heat, and at the request of the missioner, the Rev. Griffith Ellis attempts to conduct the test. His tall, commanding figure, standing erect in the pulpit, overlooks what to him from the point of vantage must seem as a seething, boiling cauldron.
Hymns, prayers, testimonies, confessions, ascend from every corner of the building, and in their excitement all the members of the congregation are on their feet. It is no reflection on Mr. Ellis to say that his efforts proved utterly futile. His appeal for a moment's silence fell on deaf ears. Thrice he attempted, and at last he gracefully acknowledged defeat, and handed the reins over to the Rev. John Williams, who has now thoroughly mastered the delicacy and intricacies of such a task.
Watching his opportunity, Mr. Williams, as the last line of a hymn was reached, exclaims, "You shall sing as much as you like, but let us now find further cause for thanksgiving." At once church members raise their right arms, and then converts, singly and in batches, are discovered - here, there, and everywhere. "Man and wife," "Three there" "Five here," "A prodigal returned," such are the few phrases we catch. In five minutes the total reaches to 40. After all, non-adherents are fairly represented here. Suddenly a strong man utters a wail of despair. The one intelligible word he utters is "Jesus. " He falls headlong in the pew, and presently is carried into the vestry by five or six men. His groans are heartrending, and the congregation is saddened and pained. The revivalist, is he equal to the occasion? "God will take care of him," he declares; "don't let your attention be distracted. Your duty is to help to save others."
A young woman's voice is heard in prayer. She has brought to the service seven young friends, who had never before been inside a place of worship. She pleads that they be saved. This at once becomes the theme of scores of other prayers. Meanwhile, Mr. Evan Roberts, as on previous occasions, is urging, encouraging, commanding members to be up and doing. Shoals of converts are again discovered. "Diolch Iddo" is sung, and sung, and sung again. Frequently he stops the refrain, and cries out, "There's another coming," and not once is his prediction falsified. He is radiantly happy tonight, and his repartees are smart and telling. "Don't forget the names," remarks the Rev. John Williams to the workers, "it is as important for us to get their names as it is for you to offer Jesus." "Their names?" responds the missioner "you are too late, the angels have been before you."
The Rev. W. O. Evans asked the stewards to go among the crowds in the far corner of the building in search of those who surrender. "You church members," cried the missioner, "do your duty, and don't let the stewards rob you of your crowns." Next we hear another voice declaring, "A brother here feels he cannot come tonight." The missioner promptly replies, "Cannot Why not? He has only to say, Jesus, take me," and he is for ever linked to Heaven."
How many converts? It is not safe to estimate. But ten minutes ago the Rev. John Williams announced the total as approaching 60. Since then many more have been declared. "Converts," cried the missioner, as the service terminates, "keep close to Jesus! Be great in prayer, and throw yourselves into work!"
This has been throughout a remarkable service. After all, these experiments in gatherings for non-adherents are worth repeating all over Wales.
Liverpool Minister's Estimate. - "A Chosen Vessel of the Lord." In view of the public interest taken throughout Wales in Mr. Evan Roberts's Liverpool meetings, and in order to correct, if possible, certain misconceptions which have been formed by some writers and others in North Wales who have not seen the revivalist or understand his methods, an important letter was today (Thursday, April 6) sent to the Welsh Press signed jointly by the Rev. John Williams, Princes Road, Liverpool, and the Rev. Thomas Charles Williams, M.A., of Menai Bridge. The Rev. John WiIIiams is the senior secretary of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist General Assembly, and one of the hon. Secs. of the Liverpool Revival Committee, while the Rev. T. Charles Williams is one of the most eminent pulpiteers of Wales. The letter was in Welsh, and the following is a translation.
"We desire to take advantage of your columns to remove, if possible, some wrong impressions which are evidently being spread throughout the country with reference to Mr. Evan Roberts's mission in Liverpool. We observe that some are suggesting that his 'silence' in the meetings causes them to become practically disappointing, while others will have it that his health is so affected that he ought not to have been pressed to fulfill his engagement in this city. We are glad of the opportunity to emphatically deny both these assertions. Mr. Roberts's mission in Liverpool is proving a success far beyond any expectations. The assemblages are enormous, many chapels are filled nightly, and it would be easy to fill many more. The enthusiasm is increasing, and we are fully convinced that the spiritual effects of this mission will be felt for generations. And it is not alone among the Welsh people that the interest is being felt. The Lord Mayor has sent offering the young revivalist, on behalf of the city, any official welcome that he would be willing to accept. All are eager to welcome him, and, more than all, the Spirit of the Lord undoubtedly sustains him amongst us.
"Mr. Roberts's methods of conducting the meetings are the same here as in South Wales. He perhaps is the very first to adopt such methods. He has no programme of any sort, and we do not know that he ever prepares his addresses. It is the people who carry out the meetings, not he. And he constantly emphasises the need of all learning to rely on the Spirit and not on man. Therefore, notwithstanding that he himself may be silent, the meetings are never at a standstill and the reins are entirely in his hands, and his control is perfect. It is, however, a mistake to suppose that he is altogether silent. In the meetings held by him at Shaw Street and the Toxteth Tabernacle, all he said showed the greatest taste and keenness, and it was manifest that he was endowed with such natural gifts of oratory that it would not have been a tax upon him to have taken the whole meeting.
"But what is remarkable in him is his wonderful power to change with a few phrases the whole tone of the meeting. At the Tabernacle on Monday, for instance, the proceedings became utterly flat; there was not a breath of life in anything. Mr. Roberts had been speaking very strongly for about 20 minutes at the start, but afterwards he sat down and appeared as if taking no notice of anything for about an hour and a half. He got up suddenly when the meeting was at its lowest point, and in less than five minutes the place had become awful to be in it - hundreds praying and praising simultaneously.
"We are fully convinced that he is an extraordinary man, not alone on account of the call he has received and the Divine countenance so clearly vouchsafed to him, but also on account of his natural mental powers. He is different from everybody, and he should not be judged by our ordinary standards. The exceptional insight that he possesses and the paroxysms he is subjected to prove an obstacle to some. We do not profess to be able to go into this question. But one thing is certain - that most of the things said by him here while under this inpiration have already been verified. He is undoubtedly 'a chosen vessel' prepared of God for a specific work at a special emergency, and it rests upon us, as those trying to promote the Kingdom of God, to be wide in our sympathies and sparing of our criticism, to pray much on his behalf and on behalf of his work, and to glorify God in him."
Lord Mayor's Tribute. - Welcome at Liverpool Town Hall.
LIVERPOOL, Friday, April 7, 1905.
Less than eighteen months ago, Mr. Evan Roberts, of Loughor, was a working blacksmith and a little before then a humble collier. Today he was the honoured guest of the chief magistrate of Liverpool. To those of us who watched him keenly and critically, he was as much at home here among the Lord Mayor's guests, in the marble halls and gilded galleries of the Liverpool Mansion House, as in his father's modest cottage on the banks of the Loughor. What happened at the reception is fully set forth in the detailed report which follows. The Lord Mayor, in his chain of office, standing with his chief citizens clustered around him, gave the evangelist regal reception. "Allow me, my Lord Mayor," said the Rev. John Williams, "to introduce to you Mr. Evan Roberts, a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ." A little later, in thanking the Lord Mayor privately for the honour done him, the revivalist said: "I thank your Lordship for your welcome, which I accept, not for myself, but for the sake of the cause."
Presently the Lord Mayor leads his guest to a small table, around which are chairs for five. On Evan Roberts's right is Dr. John Watson (Ian Maclaren), on his left is the rector of Liverpool (the Rev. J. A. Kempthorne), and the two seats opposite are occupied by the Lord Mayor and the Rev. John Williams. The other guests include many of the members of the City Council and their wives, and the leading ministers of the city of all denominations. Everyone in turn is introduced, and the revivalist has a kind, cheery, appropriate word for each, but he will not make any speech. This much he stipulated before accepting the invitation.
The speech of the Lord Mayor was in the best of taste - brief but appreciative of the missioner's effort, and Dr. Aked, on behalf of the ministers, thanked his Lordship for the opportunity he had thus afforded them to meet their "distinguished brother." Subsequently the Lord Mayor's carriage drew up at the grand entrance, with driver and coachman in gorgeous livery, and soon the Lord Mayor and his Welsh guest from Loughor were driving through the city to the mass meeting in Sun Hall, where eight thousand people had assembled.
A large number of ladies and gentlemen belonging to various denominations accepted the Lord Mayor's hospitality, for the purpose of meeting the missioner, who was accompanied by the Rev. John Williams and Dr. Phillips. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress (Mr. and Mrs. John Tea) received the guests. Tea was provided in the small ballroom. The attendance included the Misses Lea, the Rector of Liverpool (Rev. J. A. Kempthorne), Rev. Dr. John Watson (Ian Maclaren) and Mrs. Watson, Rev. J. Jackson (Wesleyan), Rev. Dr. C. F. Aked (Baptist), Dr. McAfee, Mr. W. H. Priest, Mr. R. Dart, Mr. Ellis Jones, Mr. J. C. Proctor, Miss Watts, Mr. and Mrs. J. Japp, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Crossfield, Mr. John Morris, Mr. Owen Roberts, Mr. T. Rowland Hughes and Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Wm. Evans, J. P., Mr. Wm. Evans (Newsham Park), Mr. J. Harrison Jones, Mr. A. Guthrie, Mr. Morgan, Mr. A. Black, Mr. E. L. Lloyd, Mr. A. Armour, Mr. W. Venmore, Mr. Henry Jones, Mr. James Venmore, Mr. Gwilym Hughes, Mr. Caleb Rees, Mr. Thos. Davies, Mr. Ward Jones, Mr. Wal Coop, Mr. W. Innes Hutchinson, Mr. T. A. Patterson and Mrs. Patterson, Mr. W. O. Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Stitt, Mr. Hughes, junior, Mr. Heber Radcliffe, and Mr. C. H. Keet.
Mr. Evan Roberts seemed extremely pleased with his reception, and expressed to friends present the belief that the result of the visit would be to greatly benefit the cause.
The Lord Mayor, in the course of the proceedings, said he was sure that a word of welcome should be tendered their esteemed guest, Mr. Evan Roberts. He was not sure that Mr. Evan Roberts had ever before been in the city, but they welcomed him as one who had at heart the best interests of the citizens, and as one who, to the utmost of his power, shed a blessing wherever he went. They knew something of what he had passed through in recent days, and it was very good of him to come there that afternoon. He understood that at that very moment there was a large hall packed, mostly by young people, awaiting the 6 o'clock service. No one without great influence could draw so large a number of people together.
They welcomed their friend, might he say as one of themselves, for did they not sometimes speak of Liverpool as the capital of Wales? Many of those present belonged to the Principality, but the gathering was representative of all branches of Christian work, and as fellow-workers they gave their guest a hearty welcome. He was sorry to learn - from feelings that they must respect - that Mr. Roberts did not wish to speak at that time. They regretted that feeling. It was one they, nevertheless, respected, and one which they would not attempt to vary, and he trusted that Mr. Roberts would leave the building and the city, whenever he went, with full assurance that he took with him the warm esteem, respect, and affectionate regard of those connected with the city and its Town Hail. Again he bade welcome to the devoted servant of God, who had been the means, under Divine providence, of bringing so much blessing to many homes.
The Rev. Dr. Aked said he was quite unaware whether any arrangement had been made for anyone to express, on behalf of the guests, their extreme indebtedness to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for giving them the opportunity of meeting their beloved friend. If no arrangement had been made, the ladies and gentlemen present would perhaps allow him to express to the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress how very deeply they appreciated their kindness.
Mr. William Evans (Newsham Park), chairman Liverpool Welsh Free Church Council, seconded the expression of thanks.
Mr. Richard Dart, as an English Churchman, supported, and desired to say how much thousands and thousands of members of the Church of England were looking towards that excellent work in Wales, no matter whether it was in the Church of England or any other Church. Anything that brought men and women nearer to their Saviour could not but have their most warm and cordial approval.
The thanks having been duly accorded, the Lord Mayor made brief acknowledgment.
Evan Roberts's Narrow Escape. - Missioner run over.
The guests at the Lord Mayor's reception of Evan Roberts were greatly puzzled by one ambiguous sentence in his Lordship's address. "It is very good of Mr. Evan Roberts," said the Lord Mayor, "under the circumstances, that need not here be mentioned, to come here this afternoon. We know something of what he has passed through in recent days."
Few present realised that his Lordship was referring to an accident which nearly cost the revivalist his life.
I ascertained the facts immediately after the accident happened, but at the earnest request of the revivalist himself, and those who advise him consented to hold over the publication for a day or two. On Thursday, the Rev. John Williams took the revivalist for an outing to West Kirby, a resort on the Cheshire side of the Dee. There they called upon Dr. McAfee, who is keenly interested in evangelistic work. In his house they met Captain Lewis Jones, who is the keeper of the telegraph station on Hilbre Island, a tiny islet in the Dee estuary opposite West Kirby.
Captain Lewis Jones and his wife are the sole occupants of the island, which is about three-quarters of a mile long by half a mile broad. At the time of the visit the tide was out, and the revivalist was in exuberant spirits and expressed a keen desire to visit the island. Thereupon Dr. McAfee drove him in his trap across the beach, and Capt. Lewis Jones and the Rev. John Williams followed them in another vehicle, The distance from West Kirby to the islet is about two miles, and the novelty of the drive over the seaweed and quicksand seemed to give Mr. Roberts much delight. He was full of glee and animation, like a schoolboy out for a holiday.
A pleasant half hour was spent on the island, and preparations were made for the drive home. Captain Lewis Jones asked that he be allowed to drive the revivalist back in his trap, and this was agreed to. The two vehicles were drawn up opposite the telegraph station, the captain's vehicle being in front. Captain Jones mounted it first, but no sooner had Evan Roberts taken his seat by his side than the horse suddenly went off at a gallop.
To the horror of all, the horse bolted straight towards the precipitous cliffs, 60 or 70 yards beyond. Happily, Captain Jones, with great strength and presence of mind, succeeded in swerving the horse, and, as the lesser of two evils, let him rush full pelt against a coal cart that was being driven leisurely a few yards beyond. In the collision that followed the trap was smashed to bits, and both the captain and Mr. Roberts were thrown violently to the ground.
Then more complications arose. The cart horse bolted ere they could regain their feet. Mr. Roberts was seen under the legs of the cart horse, and the next second the wheels of the cart - which was empty - passed over his leg. By this time Dr. McAfee and the Rev. John Williams reached the scene.
Mr. Roberts was picked up and placed lengthwise on a heap of unsawn timber and stripped. His foot had swollen, and the bootlace had to be cut. He was suffering slightly from shock, but when he opened his eyes he laughed out, and pleasantly remarked, "Ah, it is only another of his (Satan's) tricks, but he has failed again."
After thoroughly examining his patient Dr. McAfee strongly advised Mr. Roberts to cancel his engagement for the Bootle meeting that evening and to take two or three days' rest.
"You cannot disobey the physician," added Mr. Williams. "Oh!" was the prompt reply, "the Great Physician bids me go to the meeting," and to the meeting he went, and during the evening gave not the slightest indication that he was any the worse for his mishap. Dr. McAfee, however, insisted upon accompanying him there and kept close at hand until he saw him retire to rest at night.
Sun Hall Meeting. - Missioner and the Hypnotist.
A Grumbling Minister Denounced. - Sensational Scene.
LIVERPOOL, Friday Night, April 7, 1905.
Tonight Evan Roberts faces the largest congregation of his life. Will he prove equal to the occasion? We are in the Sun Hall, Kensington, a noble building with sitting accommodation for 6,000 people. At 5 o'clock, when I arrived, I passed a queue half a mile long, four persons in every line. Half an hour later every inch of standing room in the hall seemed occupied.
There is something inspiring in the very appearance of this huge gathering. Picture a hall six times the dimensions of the Cardiff Park Hall. Running around it are two wide galleries, the back seats of the upper tier reaching up to the skylights. The proscenium itself is larger than the Cardiff Town Hall Assembly Room, and behind and above it is another gallery.
The Sun Hall is not a theatre, and has never been used for any but religious purposes. And what of the audience that is tonight assembled? Two-thirds of it consist of young people. It is a meeting specially arranged for the young people of Liverpool, and here they are, thousands of them since 3 o'clock this afternoon, singing the hymns of the dear old fatherland, and reciting the Psalms and the verses they lisped in chihdhood at their mother's knee.
Evan Roberts will tonight have a notable platform. Ian Maclaren and Dr. Aked I recognise, and I am told that behind and around them are all the best known divines of the city. The Lord Mayor is here, wearing his insignia of office, and he brings with him the city fathers and their ladies. Let me not forget also to include in the picture this dense mass of Welsh ministers on the right. Tonight not even one of the shepherds of the Welsh flock in the city is absent. Evan Roberts has been seen, has been heard, and all that is best in the city are at his feet.
What do we see? We are not in Wales, but the audience is mainly Welsh. We are not in the beaten track of the revival, but the scenes we behold for half an hour before Evan Roberts enters equal in wildness, in intensity, in confusion, anything ever seen in Glamorgan. This transplanting of the services from chapel to hall has in no way damped the revival ardour. There are scores here from Rhos, and their prayers, "Diolch," and "Amenau," are as flaming torches setting everything ablaze. These Rhos converts simply cannot contain themselves.
"Achub, Arglwydd." "Achub, Argiwycid," "Achub, Arglwydd ("Save, O Lord"). It is a cry born of anguish, and it rains upon us from every side. I count one, two, three, six, eight, twelve - all in prayer simultaneously. Hear a few phrases. "Diolch i Ti am gyfarfod gweddi wedi tyfu" ("We praise Thee for this mammoth prayer meeting"). "Y fi ocdcl y medclwyn pena' yn Bethesda ("I was the greatest drunkard in Bethesda"). "Gaci i ninnau dd'od i'th deulu, Arglwydd tirion" ("Let us, too, be counted of Thy family, dear Lord"). "Diolch am galon newydd, yspryd newydd, aelwyd newydd, partners newydd, bywyd newydd" ("We praise Thee that we have a new heart, a new spirit, a new hearth, new friends, and a new life"). Sons and daughters pray for parents; parents for children; friends for friends.
Promptly at six o'clock Evan Roberts is on the platform. It is 20 minutes later when he is on his feet. There is a high dais in the centre of the platform, covered with red baize, and placed conspicuously upon it is a chair, evidently meant for the revivalist. He rejects both dais and chair, and stands by a little table on the proscenium. He speaks, and his voice, deep, reverberant, fills the whole of this vast building.
What is his mood, dark or bright? The question is anxiously discussed in many minds. He looks somewhat haggard. There is no smile, but he betrays no signs of nervousness.
"Fear reigns in this meeting," he declares. "Every feeling of fear must be cast out. There would then be more fire here, more glory, more freedom, and less criticism. If every heart were free, the glory would shine. When God gives His glory the critics tremble and flee. We have come here to worship. Consider the word, to worship. That is my message to everyone here. We are here to worship, not to enjoy, but we shall have the enjoyment that is the reward of work. That was the enjoyment of Christ, that is the enjoyment of God Himself. 'My Father still worketh.' Christ also is at work this very moment, interceding on behalf of some who are here tonight. Is He to work in vain?"
After a short address in this vein he complains that the true spirit of prayer has been lacking. Hundreds had been moved by the Spirit to pray; they were being moved that very moment, but they were disobeying. They were in greater fear of man than of God. Several prayers are being offered while he is yet speaking. "Pray on," he cries, "you give your message to God, and I will give my message to men."
After this, hundreds of simultaneous prayers are ascending in English and Welsh and presently 8,000 voices, deeply stirred, are tenderly singing the Welsh hymn which the revivalist has just recited:
Still the missioner is dissatisfied. "More prayers, more prayers," is his constant cry. "If you disobey the promptings of the Spirit maybe we shall not be permitted to say anything we must learn the lesson of prompt obedience to the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of you are quenching the Spirit at this very moment."
Hymn follows hymn, but by-and-bye, the revivalist commands us to stop, and 8,000 people at his word become silent. "There is some clearing work to be done before we can sing," are his significant words. We who have learnt to know his moods detect the symptom of a coming scene, and become distinctly uneasy.
The Rev. Griffith Ellis steps to the front of the platform and utters a prayer of great pathos. He asks for "the downpour." "We are enjoying the 'showers,' but we need a downpour on this congregation of young men and women. O Lord," is his plea, "win their hearts tonight to Thyself. Take Thy servant in Thy hand - we ask Thy pardon for the word, for he is in Thy hand. Let this, oh Lord, be a night to remember for all eternity to hundreds who are here assembled." Another minister in a touching prayer speaks "of the thousands of silent prayers that are here offered. Listen, oh Lord, to the cries of Thy people."
For five minutes past the missioner has been standing erect, facing his audience, but uttering not a word, and apparently oblivious to the storm of prayer and praise wildly raging around him. What can be the matter with him? There is a vacancy in his look, his eyes are glassy, his face is distorted by twitches, and his whole frame trembles.
"Silence!" "Silence!" "Silence" With these three words he shakes off, as with a violent effort, the influence that is upon him. He voice rings through the building, and every other voice becomes still. He is pale and trembling, and has to press his hand heavily on the table for support. What is this that he is saying? He speaks in English in a voice choking with indignation, and his words are, "There is an English friend in this meeting, and he is trying to hypnotise me this very moment. Will you leave the building at once or ask the Lord to forgive?"
Then turning into Welsh he continues, "God will not be mocked! We have not come here to play with the holy things of God, We have come here to worship the Lord, and they who mock Him shall be scattered as chaff before the wind. These evil practices" - before he completes the sentence he turns to the audience and, as if addressing every individual therein, he exclaims in a loud voice, "Ask the Lord to strike him down, or to pardon him. Ask at once, come all together, come, come. Away with him, remove him, or pardon him."
The revivalist's indignation becomes too great for utterance. The sensation produced by his declaration is indescribable. The huge audience jumps to its feet in alarm, and each man looks at his neighbour as if suspecting him of being the culprit. A thousand prayers are simultaneously uttered. The missioner shivers and trembles, falls heavily into his chair, and drops his head and arms on the table in front of him. The congregation sings a hymn of exaltation of the Christ Who conquers,
And presently the people regain their composure. The revivalist again speaks. "Some of you are praying the Lord to save this person. I cannot do that. I can pray that he be removed from the face of the earth, but I cannot ask the Lord to save him. I don't know whether you can. There has been too much of playing with the holy things of God. People come to the Lord's temples to play with things that have cost Divine blood. It is time they were removed, or that they be brought in to help. This is too awful a place to play in. What folly! What madness! The creature rising against his Creator - man rising against God. It borders on lunacy. Woe be unto those that come between this congregation and God." He ceases, but only for a moment or two. He then makes an emphatic declaration. "This person is not a member." This is taken to be a reference to the alleged hypnotist.
He proceeds, "People think we have come here to say what we like. No. Oh, that we could all live nearer God. The secrets of the Almighty are with those that fear Him. There are some young men here who are members, who are Welshmen, whose hands are not clean.
Ask God to pardon you your sins. Ask Him in silence without bending your heads or closing your eyes, lest people know you." Shortly afterwards we find the congregation again on its feet, and 8,000 people join in a magnificent rendering of "Duw Mawr y rhyfeddodau maith," "Y Gwr a fu gynt o dan hoelion," and other inspiring Welsh hymns. Will nothing satisfy the missioner tonight? The singing is too listless for him. He wants more heart, more devotion, more worship in the singing, and apparently he succeeds, for seldom surely has more stirring psalmody been, heard than this.
We are presently conscious of a disturbance at the very top of the gallery, behind the platform. Seats had been reserved for 400 shop assistants who could not leave business before 7. They now arrive. They had been marshalled in a queue outside, and in one long single line they are marched, as quietly as can be, to their seats.
But the attention of the congregation is distracted, and the singing flags. "We must learn steadfastness in our worship," is the missioner's severe reproof. "We must be so absorbed in our worship that nothing can distract us but God alone. Some of you tonight seem to be under a vow to disobey the Spirit, but you must choose, you cannot avoid the choice, who shall reign in your hearts, Christ or Satan?"
Somebody starts the "Crowning" song, and the grand and joyful strains of "Diadem " resound through the Building. Next, we are carried away in admiration of Annie Davies's voice in a sweetly pathetic rendering of "I need Thee, oh, I need Thee."
Facing the audience, the revivalist points to the empty chair on the dais. "Many of you have been looking at this chair. You think it is empty! It is occupied, but we cannot see the person. Suppose Jesus became visible, and asked how many of you have done your best for Him tonight, how many of you could stand up in response? Could one-half of you? But how is it to be after tonight? Shall we all do our best for him? (Amen.) Those who are going to do their best for Him henceforth, stand up." Instantly the audience below, above, as far and as high as eye can reach, stand. An inspiring sight this, one that will not easily fade from memory. "We have stood up in the sight of Heaven," and the missioner looks upward, "vowing to serve Him from henceforth. Let us then sing:
Mr. Evan Roberts now appears in a new role. He acts the part of choirmaster. We are called upon to sustain the note on the word "hun," and the effect is beautiful. "When we give ourselves to Him," he remarks, "it is difficult not to ask others to give themselves, too." After more hymns, and the rendering of a chapter from the Prophets (O, come to the waters) by Miss Mary Roberts, the Rev. John Williams proceeds to test the meeting for converts.
They were easily found, and were too numerous to be counted. As on previous occasions, so tonight, the revivalist uttered prediction after prediction. Frequently he stopped the singing. "Stop; here's another coming." And, sure enough, another came. Over and over again was this witnessed, and the huge congregation marvelled. "There is someone," cries the missioner, "engaged in a fierce soul conflict. Pray, pray, pray, hundreds of you," and thereupon a voice is heard imploring for help for "this brother." "No, no," cries the missioner, "it is not a brother, but a sister - not an Englishwoman, but a Welsh-woman." A second or two later there is a voice, "Here she is; she yields." How is this to be explained?
Again and again is the meeting tested. Church members at every test hold up their right arm. This has been done already fully a dozen times. The meeting is in full swing. Everybody is delighted, but ere we realise what has happened we are in the midst of a storm.
"Some of you are tired of raising your arms?" shouts the missioner, in a voice of thunder. "You forget the arms that were extended on the Cross. Those of you who have complained must ask forgiveness at once, at once; don't delay. Ask at once, please, so that the meeting may proceed."
But there is no response. Every attempt to pray or to sing is imperatively stopped by the missioner. "No," once he remarked, "God is not listening. We are not allowed to pray or do anything until this person asks forgiveness." There is a painful pause of many minutes' duration. "You decline?" asks the revivalist. "Very well, so be it, but God will deal fearfully hard with you. Listen: This is the message - the Spirit now commands that you should rise in your place and publicly confess that you complained of having to raise your hand."
Whom is he addressing? We cannot decide from his looks, for his looks are directed everywhere, all over the building. "Some of you," he remarks, doubt whether the person or persons are here. But they are here." Then comes another prolonged and painful pause.
The revivalist stands with closed eyes and twitching face in front of the audience. Presently he declares "God has asked you to stand up and confess. Here is another message. Do as you like with it, mock or believe. If you do not get up at once, don't be surprised if your arm is deprived of its strength, so that you can never again lift it; do not be surprised if, before you leave this meeting, your arm be withered at your side, so that you carry the mark of your disobedience to the grave. Ah! there's a storm in his soul now."
Ministers and others on the platform look at one another in blank dismay. What is the meaning of all this? This glorious meeting is it to be wrecked?
The Rev. John Williams is heard to remark, "We have witnessed some strange things this week, and they have been proved true.
""True," retorts the revivalist, "don't be surprised to see the person who grumbled standing upon this platform. Indeed, he is on this platform.
This is too much for me; I shall have to leave unless this person gets up at once to confess that he grumbled. Pray, pray, all, that the Lord bend him," and as the frightened audience bursts into prayer, the revivalist sinks exhausted into his chair, seemingly afflicted with physical pain.
"No, no," he next declares rapidly; "he is not an Englishman; he is a Welshman. He is not an ordinary member, he is not a deacon, but a preacher; he is not only a preacher. but a minister."
The consternation that follows is extremely painful. Presently a young minister is on his feet. He is the Rev. Hugh R. Roberts, Baptist minister, Edge Lane. "Cannot we get the name of the minister referred to?" he asks. "Ministers have already been sufficiently misjudged since Saturday night. My conscience is perfectly clear, but this is an attack on ministers.
God forgive me if I am wrong."
Mr. Evan Roberts replied: "If the conscience is easy, don't mind anybody or anything."
The Rev. O. L. Roberts (formerly of Cardiff), minister of the Tabernacle Welsh Congregational Church, rises. "I am quite in sympathy with my friend who has spoken. I have been minister in this city eight years." The revivalist cast an appealing glance at the speaker and said, "Oh, please, brother, sit down."
"No," replied Mr. Roberts. "The charge has been made, and I claim - " He could proceed no further from the cries of "Shame, shame," that came from all parts.
What had happened? I looked, and just caught sight of the revivalist and his two lady assistants disappearing down the stairs below the platform. A minister on the platform cried out, "We are not bound to believe everything said tonight on this platform."
The Rev. John Williams, who is cool and collected, rises to the emergency.
He pleads for silence.
A Minister: But he is only a man, Mr. Williams.
The Rev. John Williams replied, "There is no need to tell us that. Let us go out quietly, and make the matter of this brother the subject of prayer.
It is rather a serious thing for ministers of the Gospel to get up in a place like this and ask questions of the kind we have heard to Evan Roberts. (Hear, hear, and applause. ) Don't say 'Hear, hear,' plead."
A Minister: If he accuses we must defend.
The Rev. John Williams: But why must you defend? Some strange things have been said this week, and confirmation has come every time from unexpected quarters. At Birkenhead enemies went home arm in arm; at Seacombe the mocker was found; at Shaw Street, well, you all know what has since transpired. I would be the last to say that Mr. Evan Roberts has supernatural power to find these things out, but it is remarkable what confirmation is forthcoming every time. I sympathise with my brethren as much as anybody. Let us, each one, search our own hearts; we do not understand each other in everything; it is singular that we are able to understand each other so well when so remarkable a man is in our midst."
The Rev. gentleman's words have the soothing effect they were intended to have. They save the situation. The meeting is once more tested, and, presently, after reciting the Lord's Prayer, the proceedings come to a close.
Friday Night's Scene.
LIVERPOOL, Saturday, April 7.
Last night's great scene at the Sun Hall is the sensation of the day in Liverpool. I have seen many ministers, and tried to ascertain their views as to what happened, but one and all decline to be interviewed. They seem afraid to talk. There is no denying the fact, however, that many ministers are sore and keenly resent the attack of the missioner on their class, if attack it may be called. It is possible that further scenes may be witnessed.
Rev. John Williams, of Princes Road, interviewed this morning, told me, "I will express no view further than the statement I made last night, but I will relate to you a significant fact or two. First the mission will go on and the great bulk of the ministers wish Mr. Roberts' God speed.' They don't understand him or his methods, but after what they have seen and heard they dare not disbelieve. Here is another fact. Before I left the platform at Sun Hall last night two ministers came to me - one was a Calvinistic Methodist and the other a Congregationalist - and they said, 'Mr. Williams, what Mr. Roberts said was quite true. Behind us on the platform were two ministers, and we overheard their conversation shortly before the scene occurred. One of them did distinctly grumble to the other that they were so often called upon to put up their hands.' Subsequently Mr. Williams' informants sent him a letter giving the names and addresses of the two ministers thus referred to.
In this connection I would add one fact which I fear I omitted in my communication last night. During the scene the Rev. W. O. Evans publicly asked the revivalist, "Mr. Roberts, what do you mean by cwyno? (complaining) Was it an inaudible grumble passing through anyone's mind, or did the person you refer to verbally grumble to another?" The revivalist, without a second's hesitation, replied, "The person complained to another."
Who was the Hypnotist ? - Dr. Walford Bodie Accepts the Responsibility.
LIVERPOOL, Sunday, April 9, 1905.
Dr. Walford Bodie, the hypnotist, who styles himself the modern miracle worker of the North, and who is not unknown to Cardiff audiences, is at Liverpool, appearing nightly at the Lyric Theatre. In view of the statement made by Mr. Evan Roberts at the great meeting at Sun Hall on Friday that there was an Englishman in the audience trying to hypnotise him, a statement made publicly last evening by Dr. Walford Bodie will be read with interest. During the proceedings he referred to the presence of Mr. Evan Roberts in the city, and to the previous evening's incident, declaring that he accepted full responsibility for the attempt to hypnotise the revivalist. He had, he said, sent one of his assistants to the Sun Hall meeting for that very purpose, and he had pleasure in informing Mr. Roberts that the man who made the attempt had not yet been struck by God, and was still quite well.
Rev. O. L. Roberts Interviewed
The Rev. O. L. Roberts, one of the ministers at the Liverpool meeting on Friday night, who protested against the statement of Mr. Evan Roberts that a minister on the platform had grumbled at having to hold up his hand so many times while the meeting was being tested, has been interviewed. He said he felt it his duty to make the protest. There were hundreds of Welsh ministers from all parts, and all were left under the imputation. Asked his opinion of the mission, he said, very emphatically, that he believed the effect would be good and lasting, and there was no doubt as to the sincerity of the converts. He considered that in some respects Mr. Evan Roberts made mistakes, and especially in making specific charges without justifying them by being explicit. The Rev, gentleman said it was the experience of every minister that in a large congregation there was bound to be some obstructionists. He fully believed in the power of the revivalist and the good he has done, but scenes such as occurred at Shaw Street and at the Sun Hall should be avoided in the future.
A Great Gathering. - 213 Converts at One Meeting.
LIVERPOOL, Saturday Night, April 8, 1905.
Last night, after the painful and dramatic scene that brought the monster gathering at Sun Hall to an abrupt termination, there were not wanting many hundreds of the friends and well-wishers of the revival in Liverpool, who openly expressed the fear that Evan Roberts's power for good had been done for. He had, so it was averred, deliberately ruined one of the finest meetings ever seen in the city; had ruthlessly thrown away a unique opportunity for making an indelible impression upon the young people of the city, and had gone a long way towards creating enemies to himself and the movement amongst the ministers of the district.
That painful incident is now almost forgotten in the sensation caused by the marvellous incidents witnessed today. This morning, for instance, the Rev. John Williams, of Princes Road, received by post a letter signed by two ministers of the Gospel detailing a conversation they overheard at the Sun Hall meeting between two other ministers who sat behind them. The writers overheard one of the two openly grumble to his companion at being called upon to raise his hand so often, and in this letter the names and addresses are given both of the grumbler and his companion, and both, as Evan Roberts had said, occupied seats on the platform. Tonight we witness one more experiment to bold a revival meeting exclusively for "Esgeuluswyr" (non-adherents) and their canvassers. It is gratifying to be able to record that on this occasion the effort had been crowned with conspicuous success. This is entirely due to the very excellent arrangements made by the ministers and deacons of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church of Princes Road, in which we are now assembled.
Half-an-hour ago, at 5.30, as I approached the building there was outside a well marshalled queue quite four deep, extending a quarter of a mile or so down a bye street, with a strong force of Liverpool police in charge. The doors had not then been opened to the general Public. Proceeding to the back of the vestry I discovered another long queue of blue ticketholders. These were the "esgeuluswyr." In charge of them were a large number of persons holding white tickets. These were the canvassers. Presently the vestry door opens. The queue of "esgeuluswyr" is marched in, and led to the empty chapel, which is soon two-thirds full.
The "esgeuluswyr," massed together, are on the ground floor of the chapel and in the best seats. When the chapel doors are opened later the general public, including those who are professed Christians and church members, are directed to the back pews and to the galleries. Shortly after 6 the chapel is crowded. The non-adherents look particularly pleased at the civility and attention paid them. They include the Welsh flotsam and jetsam of this large city, and are easily recognisable. Scores of them are drawn from the labouring and artisan classes, and probably have not been in a place of worship for years. They are of all ages, and we note that life has dealt hardly with many of their number. Those of them who know the hymns join heartily in the rendering. Others are dumb and look about them with awe and wonder.
Seated together on the right gallery are about a dozen Welsh nurses in the uniform of the Southern Hospital. In the " set fawr" amongst other ministers, I note the Rev. J. R. Wood, an ex-president of the Baptist Union of England, the Rev. Dr. Owen Evans, ex-president of the Congregational Union of Wales, and the Rev. Dr. Pan Jones, of Mostyn.
It is 7. 30 when the missioner takes his place in the pulpit accompanied by the Rev. John Williams. So far we have not had much singing. The spirit of prayer is in the ascendant. The supplications, however, are all pitched in a low voice, and it is only flow and then we catch a phrase. Deep solemnity has been hitherto the feature of the service, and after recent experiences the change is refreshing.
Tonight for the first time at a Liverpool service, we hear the familiar strains of "For you I am praying." It is sung in a spirit of deep devotion by a girl, and the congregation in the same spirit repeat the refrain. Presently, we are conscious of a change. The fervour is increasing, and suddenly, as if by a preconcerted signal, dozens are on their feet in simultaneous prayer. The one theme is the salvation of the unconverted that are present. "These old fathers, these old mothers, these prodigals, these of our nation who have turned their backs upon Thee," is a phrase that elicits great shouts of "Amen." "We have known Thee these days as a God that answereth prayers," cries an old lady, and the next moment we are singing, "Diolch Iddo," "Pen Calfaria," and "Ar El ben bo'r goron." "Ah," cries the revivalist, who is now on his feet, "we have heard of Calvary, and sung of Calvary hundreds of times. Believe me, Calvary will never fade from memory. To the ungodly the memory of it for eternity will be agonising; to the saved, the same memory will be an eternal feast of joy. It is this that will make eternity awful to those, who, having heard of Calvary, and sung of Calvary, turn their backs at last on Calvary, and face destruction. It is glorious, glorious here tonight."
The missioner's face is lit up with joy. "Satan has dragged some of you down to the depths," he continues, "but you are not yet too low fallen for the eternal arm to reach you and rescue you, if you should will it. He alone can lift. Down, down, is death; in the brightness above is life.
Many of you here tonight are thirsting for salvation. Take heart and be of good cheer. If there are God-seeking souls, there is also a soul-seeking God, and the God Who seeks is a God that is omnipotent, and when He seeks He never fails to find. He knows your temptations and your trials. Tonight He is offering you rest. Will you accept?"
Further, he is not allowed to proceed. A young lady cuts across him with a sweetly-rendered soprano solo, "Mae swyn yn enw'r lesu" (There is a charm in Jesu's name). The revivalist, having done his work sits down.
Prayers innumerable are again offered and we sing some of the most thrilling of the hymns of Wales.
"Pray, ye people of God, pray now as never you prayed before." We are listening to words solemnly uttered by the Rev. John Williams. "There are here tonight many hundreds who have not been in a place of worship before. We welcome you to the House of God, whoever you are."
Not long after this we are in the full swing of the test. When church members are called upon to stand we observe hundreds sitting down. The converts tonight are announced in batches. "Three here," "four over there," while a voice reaches us from under the gallery, "there are scores here." The revivalist's predictions of individual conversions are again noted with wonder. We sing "Diolch Iddo," until we are hoarse.
What are these missives that are being handed the revivalist? The Rev. John Williams presently explains. "There are many here who are wavering, and are sending up messages asking for our prayers." Some pathetic incidents follow. Of one convert it is declared he has been out of membership for 23 years. Another convert is named J - H - . This brings the Rev. John Williams to his feet with the query, "Has J - - come?"
"Diolch Iddo. Here is a mother's prayer answered. She wrote me this morning asking us to pray all day for her son, and now he has come."
All over the building the stewards are busily engaged in private conversation with the unconverted, and presently the congregation abandons itself to an ecstasy of prayer for a blessing on their efforts. The revivalist is delighted with the workers. "Dyma weithwyr bendigedig," he declares, clapping his hands. "Let somebody thank God for answering our prayers," and a prayer of praise is offered by the Rev. D. Meredith, a Wesleyan minister. Miss Mary Roberts recites a chapter, and Miss Annie Davies leads us in the singing of "Y Gwr wrth ffynon Jacob." Over and over again we repeat the concluding couplet,
Some church members, however, are idle, and some non-adherents are rejecting the offer of salvation. "This is the warning," exclaims the missioner, and turning to Ezekiel XXXIII. 8 he solemnly reads "When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, if he do not turn from his way he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul."
Proceeding, he makes a public offer of salvation to all present, and to emphasise the offer the whole congregation at his request recites in Welsh the verse, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Someone whispers a suggestion that the verse be recited also in English, but the revivalist promptly responds, "No! no! no English just yet at any rate."
Then after a rain of testimonies and a hymn, the Rev. John Williams, to whom the returns of the stewards have been handed, announces amid a scene of indescribable rejoicing, that the converts number 157, but we were soon shown that the census is far from complete. "Here are nine more," "five more," "six more." There is apparently no end to the conversions tonight. At the missioner's request we tenderly and softly sing Newman's beautiful hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light," in English, and at the close we catch a phrase of a prayer. "O Lord, let all here tonight touch the hem of Thy garment."
Shortly afterwards the total conversions number 180, but the revivalist is insatiable. He stops the singing frequently with the remark, "There is someone over there (pointing to a pew) on the point of surrendering, and a convert would at once be discovered there. Every prediction of this kind is preceded by silent prayer on the part of the revivalist, and very often he presses his hand on the back of his head, and shivers as if in pain. The next announcement shows the total to have reached 197.
The Rev. John Williams remarks: "This shows the value of self-denial on the part of church members. The 'esgeuluswyr' have been given room tonight. I do not think one was turned away. In the result, Christ has been glorified. We must arrange still another meeting of this kind. Working men complain that the chapels are crowded before they leave work. Very well, on Friday night at Chatham Street we will arrange a meeting for working men only."
"Perhaps some of you" - the revivalist is now speaking "are hoping that the total converts tonight will reach 200. Don't be led away by any curious feeling of that kind. It is not the number, it is the work that tells. Never mind the number, think only of the blood, the blood," and the man's whole frame shakes violently, as if in ague. Two or three minutes later the total reaches 200. The revivalist sits down smiling, and we hear a perfervid rendering of "Diolch Iddo."
'"Keep on praying," urges the Rev. John Williams, and once more the meeting is tested. Further discoveries are made, and the total increases to 204. Mr. Evan Roberts again indulges in prophesy. "There is another," and, after wildly surveying the audience, he continues: "He is not in the galleries, but on the ground floor." And so he was. Total, 205.
The Rev. John Williams leads the excited congregation in a recitation, St. John III. I6, and then we sing, "O gariad, O gariad, anfeidrol ci fraint," with Mr. Evan Roberts as conductor. Mr. Williams turns into English to invite English converts but the missioner interrupts him, with an impatient, "No! no! no English people are coming again tonight." Nor did any.
Presently, after another attack of shaking, the missioner cries out, "I cannot quite make out this vision. Yes, I can. Another is coming, ~. Welshman, he is deciding, if he has not already decided. " And in a second or two one more is~ added to the list. Totai, 2U. The revivalist, now quite exhausted, falls back into his chair. We hear the Benediction. It is pronounced by the Rev. John Williams. After the Doxology had been sung we proceed to depart, for it is nearly 11 o'clock.
The sensation of the service is still to come, however. Here is the revivalist again at the pulpit desk in silent prayer and arms extended. What's going to happen? We wait; not a man leaves the building. After two or three minutes' silence the missioner speaks. "The service is being continued for the sake of one soul. Where is he? " And again we witness that wild, rapid glance of his surveying the congregation up and down. Again he closes his eyes, his face is twitching, and his hand is firmly pressed against the back of his head. "Over there," he cries, gesticulating wildly, and pointing to the gallery at the far end of the building. "Over there in the gallery."
"Over there" are several ministers, and one of them, the Rev. J. D. Evans, pastor of Catherine Street, calls upon church members in that block to hold up their hands. This is done. A careful scrutiny follows, but every hand is up, and there is no sign of another convert. Is the prediction to be falsified?
The missioner again prays: again he cries out, "Yes, yes; the Spirit guides my thoughts to the gallery; try again and again."
"No," replies the Rev. J. D. Evans, after another test, "there is no one here.
A man has just come in - "Ah," exclaims the missioner, "offer him Jesus at once." But the offer is declined.
This is getting painful. Suppose the prediction fails? What will be the result? Is the revivalist over-reaching himself? There is an interval of silence. Again he indulges in that mystic reverie. His next words are startling: "Some of you in the gallery are not honest. Some of you have your hands up who are not church members. Have another test." And for the sixth or seventh time the gallery occupants are tested. The Rev. J. D. Evans now declares, "A friend here who has been holding up his hand every time now declares he is not a church member. His hand is now down." "Speak to him; speak to him," is the command from the pulpit, uttered in imperative tones. "Yes," answers Mr. Evans, presently, after a short conversation with the man thus referred to, "it is his ardent desire to give himself to Jesus." Total, 212.
Immediately this reply is heard the congregation become as excited as an election crowd at the declaration of the poll. Some sing "Diolch Iddo"; hundreds clap their hands out of very joy; scores are offering up prayers of praise; but presently 1,500 voices unite in a magnificent paean of praise -
This last incident created a deep impression~. "Is this man a prophet of the Living God?" was one query I heard. "Now," cries the evangelist, "we can finish the meeting. I was not permitted to close it before." As we walk out he speaks again. "Before coming here tonight I prayed. I am not allowed to ask everything in prayer, but this afternoon I was permitted to ask that the angels, the seraphims, and the archangels be sent to assist at this service tonight, and they were here. To God be the glory."
Workers stay behind for an after-meeting, and they are a great throng, flushed as with triumph. "Ye are my friends," is Mr. Evan Roberts's message to them. They had, he continued, worked as no band of workers had ever worked before.
As he was speaking an Englishman came in and spoke from one of the pews. Three times, he said, he had left the first service and gone to an adjoining hotel for intoxicants. Three times had he been served, three times had he failed to touch the tumbler, and three times had he been driven back by a power unknown into the chapel. Would they let him, he asked, be enrolled amongst the converts? Total for the evening, 213. During the afternoon Mr. Evan Roberts paid a visit to the Rev. Josiah Thomas, the veteran hon. sec. of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Foreign Mission Board, who is an invalid. Subsequently, with the Rev. John Williams, he drove to the Southern Hospital. Here he was met by Dr. Jones and a band of Welsh nurses. He made a tour of The wards, visited the sick beds of scores of Welsh people and gave a cheery word of comfort to each.
Westminster Road, Kirkdale. - A Joyless Meeting.
LIVERPOOL, Monday, April 10, 1905.
Westminster Road Chapel, the venue of tonight's great meeting is in Kirkdale, the north of Liverpool, close to Booti; the boundary line. The pastor is the Rev. Stanley Rogers, son of Dr. Guinness Rogers, the veteran Congregationalist, and the Rev, gentleman and his deacons readily placed this handsome and commodious edifice at the disposal of the sister church of the Welsh Congregationalists of Great Mersey Street, for which tonight's meeting was originally fixed.
We are so well used to crowds these last weeks that we regard as a very ordinary circumstance the enormous throng we passed through on our way in. They were all late corners. Though they came at 5, the chapel was crowded long before. The crowd seemed to bear their disappointment very good humouredly. They were clamouring for another overflow service, in addition to the two already arranged for tonight. The congregation includes a large sprinkling of visitors from Wales and many prominent Englishmen. Behind me sits Mr. George Wise, the wellknown Protestant leader, who tells me he thinks the revival a wonderful' movement, and that he regards Mr. Evan Roberts as a most fascinating psychological study. Last night Mr. Wise, before a crowded congregation of Protestants, preached on the revival, and defended the revivalist from recent attacks.
This congregation knows how to sing. We hear Welsh hymns of all denominations, and we note some novelties. We are all familiar with the old hymn -
But how many have heard it wedded to the music of Sankey's "O, Happy Day!" Sung as it is tonight by a congregation that has drunk deep of the joy depicted in the hymn, it proves a delightful feature.
Mr. Evan Roberts arrived at 7. 10 straight from a long drive in the country, and he looks all the better for it. With him in the pulpit are Miss Annie Davies and Miss Mary Roberts, the Rev. John Williams (Princes Road), the Rev. John Lewis Williams (pastor of Great Mersey Street), the Rev. W. O. Evans, Mr. William Evans (Newsharn Drive) and Councillor Henry Jones. For the next hour we have typical revival scenes. One of the most touching prayers is that of a Welsh minister from Dublin, who intercedes for Ireland.
Are we to witness a storm tonight? The missioner has been silent for an hour, and when shortly after 8 he faces the audience we instinctively feel that trouble is brewing. His mood is distinctly black; his features betray indications of recent tears. He opens the Bible, finds the verse he needs, and is on the point of reading it when his face is convulsed. He bends his head in silent prayer. Three or four times is this repeated. At last he speaks gaspingly: "Well, I am not allowed to read this verse. There is someone here who knows why. Can we all stand up and say that it is clear between us and our fellow men and clean between us and God? No! And that is why I cannot read this verse."
We are wondering what verse it can be, but we are not enlightened. Here is a new convert on his feet, engaged in a prayer that "Satan be driven out of this place tonight." "He has no right to be here," he cries. "He is here under false pretences; out with him, out with him." He proceeds to make a slight reference to the recent split in the Welsh C.M. churches of Liverpool, and prays that a spirit of forgiveness shall prevail on all sides.
As on previous occasions, so tonight, a reference to this subject is promptly followed by an attempt to sing. A minister starts the hymn
The revivalist, whom it is now pitiful to behold for the paroxysm that has seized him, stops the singing. "There is something terrible (ofnadwy) out of place here," he cries. "I felt it as soon as I came in, and the burden for the last hour has been almost unbearable. " The Rev. W. O. Evans, in a prayer of great power, implores the Lord "to help Thy servant," and "to search us all." "Help him tonight," he cries, amid loud amenau. "Thou hast given him Thy countenance so far. Thou hast saved his life, and Thou hast surrounded him with protecting angels."
An Englishman, doubtless unaware of what is happening, recites an English hymn, and proceeds to sing it, but he is at once asked to desist. "This is very strange, very strange to me, at any rate," exclaims the missioner, who is evidently labouringly under deep emotion. "It would be well worth while everyone present to pray for the removal of this hindrance tonight, whatever it be."
The Rev. W. O. Jones is now on his feet. He is the head and front of the recently-formed Free Church of the Welsh. He has attended very many of these revival services. This is the first time he takes public part. He offers a prayer for the removal of obstinacy and pride, and that he be made as a child. "Thou knowest all the troubles," he proceeds; "help us and strengthen us to forgive. I have tried to forgive all and to pray for them. Strengthen them also, O Lord, to forgive me for everything that was out of the way and for what they thought was out of the way. Melt our hearts so that every difficulty be removed."
While this prayer is being offered the missioner, who is sitting in a bending position in the pulpit and cannot be seen, is heard sobbing bitterly.
A Birkenhead lady follows in prayer, and during the prayer breaks out into a Welsh hymn, and is permitted to proceed with her hymn without interruption. Prayers are next heard in all parts of the building, but the missioner exclaims, "Don't ask Him to save, friends." "Don't be disheartened, friends," remarks the missioner about 9 o'clock, as he makes another attempt to speak. My tongue is tied tonight; I cannot say anything; I am quite willing that my tongue be tied if other tongues are loosened."
At the suggestion of the Rev. John Williams, the congregation stands, and with one voice, in Welsh and English, thrice repeats the psalmist's prayer, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." "Had all present," asked Mr. Williams, "recited the prayer? If not, or if they could not, would they please quit the building, so that the atmosphere be cleared, and those who remained would pray for them. (Amen.) He did not think the Spirit of the Lord had departed from the service, as some seemed to suggest in their prayers. All of them would have preferred a bright, enjoyable service. This was a meeting difficult to bear; but such meetings as these were blessed, for they compelled all of them to search and examine themselves."
In the centre of the ground floor we recognise the Rev. Gwynoro Davies, of Barmouth, engaged in prayer "for the lifting of the veil." He asks that if we are brought to Sinai tonight we may afterwards be brought to Zion. "They must beware, however, lest they pray for others and forget to pray for themselves."
Mr. Evan Roberts is at last able to speak with some degree of fluency. "No," was his first remark, "we shall not sing just yet. The place is not clean, not pure. You can pray as much as you like so as to free not only this service, but many services that are to follow."
"Perhaps some of you are wondering," he presently remarks, "why God is not listening and refusing to remove the hindrance. God wants to see how far the burden of His work is pressing on your minds. It is a burden borne by scores of you, as we know from the silent prayers that have been offered. Be of good heart; if there is a cloud, behind it there is a Father's smiling face. God has not departed. The battle has to be fought, but victory is ours. God can proceed with His work, trampling down this obstruction, but He prefers to raise the hindrance and carry it with us. I have seen at such services as these the pressure becoming so great that those guilty of the hindrance were compelled to stand up and confess it. It may or may not be so tonight, but God prefers to bury our faults rather than to expose them."
Later, we are warned against ever coming to a service with a prearranged programme. Hundreds had been disappointed tonight. Why? Because, explained the revivalist, they had dared to prepare a plan for the spirit of God. They might not always be happy and joyful in the hands of the Spirit, but they would always be safe.
It Is 9. 30 before the congregation is accorded permission to sing, and it is seized upon with great eagerness. When the test comes it is found that the large majority of the congregation are church members, and the Rev. John Williams once more expresses keen regret that non-adherents should thus be excluded. The converts number about a dozen. The service at 10 o'clock is unexpectedly terminated, the Benediction being pronounced by the Rev. J. Lewis Williams. All through the evening an enormous crowd were assembled outside the chapel, praying and singing.
Sir Alfred Jones and Missioner.
Sir Al'fred L. Jones, of the Elder-Dempster Company, has made a characteristically generous offer to Evan Roberts. Sir Alfred was in the South Wales train on Saturday morning, and had evidently read and been impressed by the account given in that day's papers of the stirring and dramatic incidents at the Sun Hall meeting. At Hereford Sir Alfred stepped out of the train, and proceeding to the station telegraph office at once wired to Mr. Evan Roberts at Liverpool, suggesting that he was in need of a rest and a change, and adding that it gave him (Sir Alfred) great pleasure to place at his disposal two first-class state rooms for himself and a friend for a trip in his mail boats either to the Grand Canary or Jamaica, all free of expense. On Monday Mr. Evan Roberts wrote thanking Sir Alfred for his offer, and adding that the matter was under consideration.
Free Church of the Welsh. - "Not on the Rock."
LIVERPOOL, Tuesday, April 11, 1905.
Mr. Evan Roberts this afternoon gave still another startling demonstration of his extraordinary power of thought-reading. It was at the Welsh Independent Chapel in Grove Street, of which the Rev. D. Adams, B.A. (formerly of Hawen) is pastor.
At 2. 30 a special meeting for women was there held. The rumour had been persistently spread during the morning that the revivalist would attend, and for once rumour proved well founded. At 3. 30 Mr. Roberts, to the delight of a large and overflowing congregation, appeared in the pulpit, accompanied by the Rev. John Williams, Princes Road, and the Rev. Dr. Phillips, of Tylorstown. It had been anticipated that the revivalist would, as at Princes Road last week, take advantage of the occasion to deliver a Gospel address to women. For a long time, however, he preserved absolute silence.
He had not long been in the building before he showed signs of distress. When he did at last speak it was under the stress of deep emotion. There was someone present, he declared, who had for some time resisted, and still continued to resist, the promptings of the Spirit to consecrate his or her life to foreign mission work. The announcement occasioned considerable sensation. "I cannot speak further," he added, "because of this disobedience. There are millions of pagans in the world without the knowledge of the Gospel, and yet there is someone in this building who has refused to carry them the light. He or she must at once plead for forgiveness."
Then was witnessed a scene that was poignantly painful. Before the missioner arrived a young lady in the body of the chapel had offered a prayer of remarkable power. Presently, to the surprise of all, this young lady rose sobbing pitifully, and publicly confessed that she had been guilty of the disobedience referred to. For three years past, she continued, she had felt compelled to offer herself for mission work on the hills of Khassia, Assam, but her love of home, of family, and of friends, had proved too strong for her. She had loved home more than she had loved the Christ. Then the young woman, who, it is understood, hailed from Blaenau Festiniog, broke into prayer, in which she passionately pleaded for the Divine pardon.
"Oh, Lord," was her cry, "I surrender, I surrender; do with me as Thou wilt."
"Bendigedig," cried the revivalist.
The declaration was one of joy, but the next second he who had uttered it was himself prostrated and in tears. His sobs convulsed the whole congregation.
The scene, while it lasted, was one of great pathos. The storm, however, was succeeded by a calm, and in that calm the revivalist •having completely gained his composure, delivered a practical address on the duty of the churches to support foreign missions.
For the evening meeting, fixed for 7 o'clock at the Mynydd Zion Welsh Wesleyan Chapel in Princes Avenue, thousands were assembled in front of the chapel gates when I passed at 2 o'clock. The doors were opened at 3, and the building, together with several others in the immediate vicinity, were immediately packed.
It is 7 o'clock. For three hours this meeting at Mynydd Zion has been in full swing. Punctually, at the appointed hour, Mr. Evan Roberts is in the pulpit. One glance at his face suffices to convince us that if there is to be joy at this service it will be preceded by pain and sorrow. Our fears are soon confirmed.
The missioner has not been two minutes in the building, but he is already on his feet. There is a look of anguish in his eyes. Waving his hand impatiently, he brings the singing to an abrupt stop with a wild cry of "No! no!"
What is wrong tonight? We instinctively feel that some charge is about to be hurled against the congregation. Presently it comes. "Is this place pure; is it clean?" The question is put by the missioner, and it is the missioner that replies, "I am afraid it is not. Have we come here only to see, only to gratify curiosity, instead of coming here to worship the living God? Have we come here only to be entertained, instead of coming here to be made whole?" He raises his voice as he dramatically declaims, "No, no, this place is not clean at all."
Now the building resounds with prayers
- "Purify us, O Lord," "Cleanse Thy Temple," "Bend us;" but, above all, we hear again the voice of the evangelist,
"Oh, be careful that it is clear between you and your fellow-man, between you and God. God is holy, and cannot look on iniquity. Oh, beware, lest ye have come here to mock."
More prayers from men and women. Hundreds all around are engaged in prayer, audible and inaudible. "What is it that's here - what is it?" asks the missioner, wildly. He is bending over the pulpit desk with face flushed and veins swollen. "There is something terribly out of place here."
"Oh, Lord," someone prays in the gallery, "if there be anything Out of place here - " "If?" retorts the missioner, reprovingly; "don't say 'if,' for it is here."
A second later the evangelist collapses. He is prostrated with grief. His great sobs are terrible to hear. "Oh, Lord," is his cry, "Oh, Lord, stay Thy Hand." The congregation, deeply stirred, cry with him. The house is filled with lamentations.
The revivalist sits back in the Pulpit chair, and Dr. McAfee, of West Kirby, who has followed him closely since last Thursday's accident, hurries to his assistance. "O Lord" - we hear the missioner's despairing cry. "O, Lord, it is more than I can bear." Next he addresses the audience:
"Friends, this is the heaviest burden I have had yet." Again, he is convulsed with heartrending sobs, but he makes a determined effort to proceed. "It is difficult," he continues, "to obey God at all times, but we must obey. The message given to me is not an easy one to deliver. Oh, ask that strength be given me, my friends."
Prayers and lamentations again ascend. "I must try to deliver the message," cries the missioner. From the gallery comes a voice: "Cast thy burden on the Lord." "It is too heavy a burden," continues the missioner, "but it will soon be cast on somebody else. It is so easy to deliver messages that are pleasant, but when a terrible message comes, it is difficult to obey; but I must obey. It is the same difficulty, the same hindrance as that which we experienced last night. I must give the message. Believe it or not, you please yourselves."
Once more the speaker is prostrated with a paroxysm of grief, and once more he recovers his self-control.
"God -has given me this message. Many days ago, he gave me the message. Tonight, the time has come to reveal it. The message has reference to the Free Church of the Welsh. It is a message direct from God: - 'The foundations of that church are not on the Rock.' That is the message."
The sensation caused by this declaration is painful. Many members of the Free Church of the Welsh are present. Scores of them have, during the mission, taken part in the spontaneous proceedings of these gatherings.
After a close survey of the congregation, I fail to discover the Rev. W. O. Jones, the superintendent minister of the Free Church, and whose case it was that led to the secession from the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists in Liverpool in 1901 of the body that is tonight so prominently referred to. He has been present at almost every service since Mr. Evan Roberts's arrival, and last night at the Westminster Road meeting he took conspicuous part. But the Rev, gentleman is absent tonight.
The revivalist is again speaking: "You can repent as soon as you like. They have sent me many invitations to go to them, but the invariable answer I get to prayer is an emphatic 'No.' I am not permitted to go to them. One of the brethren came to me last night. This is the message I have received. I would rather not have uttered it, but the pressure was terrible, and I had to say it or break to pieces. Oh, God give strength to these people."
"Blessed be Thy name," is the prayer of an old patriarch, "that it is yet possible to put the foundations of the Free Church of the Welsh on the rock," and the chapel re-echoes with the sound of "Amen." "Strengthen Thy servant; we thank Thee for Thy message. It is a hard message that Thy servant has delivered, but we place the responsibility for it on his Heavenly Father. O, Lord, remember Thy servant. Disperse the clouds, we pray. In Thy mercy, remember Thou the Welshmen of the Free Church."
This is a type of scores of other prayers that we hear. "God be praised," declared the missioner, who is now more self-composed, "I have conveyed the message. The strength came from God. Don't think I hastened to deliver it. I would rather not have given it. But I had to obey or be turned aside. I have had terrible messages before. The last awful message was at Cwmavon, that some soul had gone to perdition because of someone's disobedience. I knew this was going to be a terrible service.
I felt it all the afternoon. I felt it when I came in through the vestry, and I felt too weak almost to walk in. But thank heaven, I feel all right now.
("Amen! " "Diolch," "Halleiujah.") "I don't fear anything now, but take care not to rejoice, 'but let us pray for unity. Satan rejoices when we are separated. Let this meeting now proceed as the Spirit wills it." After the trying ordeal just gone through, the congregation relieves its pent-up feelings in a magnificent rendering of the Christian war march, "Marchog lesu yn llwyddianus" ("Ride, O Jesus, ride triumphant "). Many other hymns are sung.
In the pulpit with the revivalist are two ministers, the Rev. Thos. Hughes, pastor of Mynydd Zion, and the Rev. John Williams, pastor of Princes Road. Mr. Williams is one of the secretaries of the Liverpool committee of the mission. He is also the senior secretary of the General Assembly of the Calvinistic Methodists of Wales. The Rev. gentleman now rises to make a personal statement. "I hope," he remarks, "We will all give heed to what was said just now, that no one, either in this chapel or outside, will yrnfalehio (i.e. will become proud or boastful), because of what has been uttered tonight. I don't know whether I ought to get up, but I felt that, perhaps, because I am so intimately connected with Mr. Evan Roberts in this mission I ought to say that I have nothing whatever to do with the message he has given to us this evening.
(Cries of "No, no.") I don't want him to say so unless he chooses, but some persons are capable of saying many cruel things. I solemnly declare, in your hearing, and in the presence of God, that I had nothing to do with this message. I had asked him to say nothing about the secession. It has been on his mind for some time. I take this opportunity of declaring in the presence of the Lord that there is in my heart not a particle of bad feeling towards any member of Eglwys Rydd y Cymry (the Free Church of the Welsh), and I think that is true of every one of us. I hope things will be brought to an end, but don't let anyone ymfalehia; the message is too terribly serious. Perhaps this will help things to come right. Let us pray that our hearts be filled with the love we sing so frequently of in our hymns."
What a change! The revivalist is now all smiles. He laughs merrily, joyously, and his laugh is contagious. But suddenly he becomes serious. "Don't think so low of me," he pheads, "as to believe that I am taught by man. I never repeat from the pulpit what man says, but what God bids me speak. When the first request reached me from the Free Church of the Welsh I made it a subject of prayer. The question I put was, 'Is Jesus going to these people? If so, I will.' I remember that very day vividly. It was during the time of silence at Neath. A large number of applications have since reached me from them, but I am not permitted to go to them, Personally, I was willing. I don't care where I go. With me the question is to get at men. Sect, denomination, church, is nothing. All belong to Jesus, and if we are filled with the Spirit of Jesus we can go to every place where Jesus goes. (Amen.) The Master's arms are wide enough to embrace all, and if we are filled with His love all narrowness and bigotry disappear."
He stops. The congregation catches his spirit, and hymns of exaltation ascend. A few minutes later he is again speaking. "If God entrusts me with a message, I cannot withhold it. To deliver pleasant messages is a matter of delight. It is glorious, for instance, to predict conversions. One here, one there, one yonder; but if we are permitted to impart messages that please, we must be ready also, when the call comes, to deliver the messages that are not pleasing. It is pleasant to bring the world into the Church, but we must first put the Church in its right place. We must cleanse it, and set it ablaze with the fire of Divine love. And how is the Church to be cleansed? By cleansing our own hearts, and then we can all be one. Satan rejoices when we separate. It gives him his opportunity. If he finds a rift, be it ever so narrow, he pushes in and makes the split wider. But Jesus unites, and in His arms we are safe. I must deliver the message or be broken in pieces," and with a pleasant, joyous laugh that rings through the crowded building, he adds, "I don't want to be smashed just yet, at any rate."
The congregation joins in the merry ripple of laughter then bursts into a hymn of praise, and for five minutes we sing "Diolch Iddo," "Ar Ei ben bo'r goron," and other revival favourites; The missioner, with clasped hands and closed eyes, bends over the pulpit desk. "Let us all now," he declares, in solemn tones, 'repeat the Lord's Prayer. Let us say it slowly as one family, and let us pray it." And first in Welsh and then in English, the grand inspiring phrases of the God-given prayer are recited by 1,200 voices.
"We thank Thee, O Lord God, for this prophet that is among us," is the next prayer, and it is offered by a minister. Dozens of prayers follow, and presently the revivalist, preceded by Dr. McAfee, slips out of the pulpit into the vestry behind. He is, I find on inquiry, in a bath of perspiration, and somewhat exhausted, otherwise, I am assured by the doctor he is quite well. He does not again return to the service. During the fifteen minutes that follow, Miss Annie Davies sings, and she is at her best. Miss Mary Roberts recites a chapter, and testimonies, hymns, and prayers are simultaneously heard.
When the meeting is tested for converts there is not a single response. Every individual present in this great congregation is already a church member. A crowded overflow meeting on the other side of the avenue was addressed by the Rev. Dr. Phillips and his niece.
Interview with the Rev. W. O. Jones. - Disapproves of Occultism.
The Rev. W. O. Jones, the principal minister of the Free Church of the Welsh, was interviewed after the service at his residence in Percy Street, Liverpool. Mr. Jones had already heard of what had transpired at the meeting. He received me smilingly (writes the interviewer), and appeared to treat the matter very lightly. Replying to my questions as to the relationship of the Free Church of the Welsh with the revival movement, he said that they had had many very successful meetings before Mr. Evan Roberts' arrival in Liverpool. They had obtained over a hundred converts, a number which he believed was in excess of the total which had been enrolled by all the other Welsh churches in Liverpool put together.
"What has been the attitude of yourself and your people in regard to the movement since the advent of the revivalist?"
I did not know," replied Mr. Jones, whether to take part in the meetings or not, but I was urged to do so, and to show that we were ready to forgive. Several of our members tried to see Mr. Evan Roberts after he reached Liverpool. They called at the house where Mr. Roberts was staying, but saw only the Rev. Dr. Phillips, of Tylorstown, and he always led them to believe that if I took part in the services everything would be all right. They were given to understand that that represented the views of Mr. Evan Roberts. Personally, I had my suspicions right through, and I never attempted to approach Mr. Evan Roberts, either by letter or in any other way. My people urged me, however, to attend the meetings, and that is why I took part in the meetings at the Westminster Road gathering last night."
"What effect, if any, do you think will tonight's incident have on your churches?"
"I don't think it will have any effect worth speaking of. A few may leave, but I think we shall probably gain in the long run."
Discussing the message which Mr. Evan Roberts said he received from God, Mr. Jones said, "I don't understand it, but I don't believe that Mr. Evan Roberts has any supernatural power."
"Then you don't believe these messages are genuine?" "I don't believe they are, but I do believe that Evan Roberts thinks they are."
In conclusion, Mr. Jones said he was quite in sympathy with the protest made by the Rev. O. L. Roberts at Friday night's meeting at the Sun Hall. He had expected that as a result of Friday night's happenings the mission would have collapsed. In all his reading he had never come across any instance of occultism being used for the propagation of the Christian religion. He certainly did not understand Evan Roberts.
Layman Leader's Opinion
Mr. G. Caradoc Rees, solicitor, a prominent leader of the Free Church of the Welsh, when asked for his opinion as to the effect of the missioner's declaration with reference to that church, replied, "The immediate effect will be to draw us together and make us more earnest and active. The members of the Free Church of the Welsh will work confidently and hopefully as in the past."
The church has been successful hitherto, has it not?" "Yes; we are already as strong, both in churches and membership, as most of the Welsh denominations in Liverpool, and the opening of one church last week~ and the laying of foundation stones of another this week, are signs rather of activity than decay. "
"Do you accept the message as Divine?"
"I need only say that the weaker the rational basis for a charge, the more inclination is there to invoke the authority of the Deity for such a charge."
"Do you take the message to be aimed at the principles or the personnel of the church?"
"I look upon it as referring to the personnel of the church. I should say the charge is distinctly leveled at an individual, which makes it the more reprehensible. The only way to deal with prejudice is to live it down.
The Rev. W. O. Jones is living it down. The church, however, has not been founded on a person but on principles."
"What would you say those principles are?"
"They are the broad principles and beliefs that underlie all the evangelical churches of the country. The difference between ourselves and the Calvinistic Methodist body is a difference more of organisation than of anything else."
"Have you any reason to think that any undue influence has been brought to bear on Evan Roberts?"
"I accept the Rev. John Williams's statement without any reservation."
"What do you think of Evan Roberts's methods generally? "
"It will be more profitable, I think, to discuss him and his methods when the religious atmosphere shall have regained the normal."
"But you agree that he is doing good work?"
I sincerely hope so. There is work enough for Evan Roberts and all the religious denominations, including the Free Church of the Welsh, to do, and I had hoped the time had come when each denomination would leave the other alone to do good in its own way. This unseemly quarrelling between Christians does a lot of harm, and I am afraid statements such as Tuesday night's tend to do more harm than good. It appears to me that the prayer of the: Rev. W. O. Jones on Monday evening, as set out in your columns, is nearer the Spirit of Christ than Mr. Evan Roberts's denunciation."
The Free Church of the Welsh numbers 1,400 members, and the congregations 2,000.
Some New Features. - A Novel Test.
BOOTLE, LIVERPOOL, Wednesday, April 12, 1905.
This is Mr. Evan Roberts's second visit to the borough of Bootle. The first was last Thursday, and then, as now, the gathering was held in Stanley Road Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church. The revivalist was this morning in the best of health and spirits, and had fully recovered from the strain of last evening's ever memorable service at Mynydd Zion. He has been spending the day at West Kirby with Dr. McAfee.
This is an open meeting, and consequently an enormous crowd surrounded the entrance when the doors were thrown open at five o'clock. I notice however, a dozen pews unoccupied on the ground floor, all jealously guarded by the stewards. These pews, I am informed, are reserved for 80 or 90 esgeuluswyr (non-adherents), who were crowded out of last Thursday's meeting. Shortly they are all present. Many of them have privately expressed a desire that they be made the subject of prayer, and petitions for their conversion are heard in all parts of the crowded building.
When the revivalist arrives a little after seven o'clock he hears a congregation of 1,200 people rapturously singing "I will follow Jesus." Forty minutes elapse before the missioner is on his feet. He looks bright and buoyant, and as he smiles hundreds present breathe a sigh of relief. "When I came in," are his first words, "you were singing gloriously. You had been singing
When the breeze was coming scores of you rejected it. The Divine breeze will always come whenever we are ready for it. When we sing don't let us sing for the sake of singing, but let us delve into the truths contained in the hymns, and through these truths fight our way to God, and so secure the blessing." Turning to the non-adherents, he declared, "Somebody in prayer referred to you as 'these friends.' We want you to become still nearer, so that you may not only be friends, but brothers and sisters in the Lord."
There is apparently no end to the new features introduced by the missioner tonight. We witness quite a novel test. "All of you who want these people to be saved, will you stand up?" Scarcely had the words been uttered ere the congregation as one man jumps to its feet. "And many of the non-adherents are on their feet also," exclaims a minister.
"Diolch Iddo," is the missioner's reply.
"Now," is the next request, "will you breathe a prayer for their salvation?
But remember His name - . for the sake of Jesus."
All in the congregation still standing bow their heads, and a deep silence prevails for several minutes. Then someone recites a verse, and presently Scriptural quotations befitting the occasion rain upon us from all sides. "Let every member tonight be at his best," urges the missioner. Among the voices raised in supplication we hear the voice of Miss Annie Davies.
We sit down. The missioner, now gay and smiling, holds the Bible high in his upraised arm. "Has anyone delayed too long? Is anyone too late tonight?" is his query. "No," answers the congregation. But what does this (the Bible) say?" continues the missioner. The eagerness with which hundreds hasten to reply is striking. "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary," This is the acceptable time," "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near," and scores of other equally wellknown verses are recited. Someone starts a verse, and at once many scores join in its rendering.
Here comes another question from the revivalist - "Is anyone here too low fallen for God to save him?" "No, no," the audience replies ecstatically; "God is love." "Though their sins be as scarlet they shall be whiter than snow." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Welsh hymns, too, are recited and Psalms are quoted.
"There," the missioner presently remarks, as if addressing the nonadherents, "you have been encircled by the threats, the promises, and the desires. Now for a more difficult question. You have asked God to save. Has He saved tonight?"
The audience that so readily answered the previous questions is now dumb. "Oh, ye of little faith," exclaims the missioner. "Of course He has; yes, yes, He has saved; I have asked Him; we have seen it through faith, and can sing 'Diolch Iddo' even before we see the fruits," and taking the hint we once again sing the familiar old hymn.
"There are scores here who were unsaved," is the evangelist's next remark. "Do you think they shall all go out unsaved and be the sport of the devil? No, no; they have cost too much: they have cost Divine blood! Satan is about sustaining a double loss; he is not only losing these that followed him, but they are joining the forces to attack him. (Laughter). Laugh! Of course we can laugh!"
We are bidden to pray that Satan be bound, and afterwards, in response to the missioner's request, we sing "Dewch, hen ac ieuanc, dewch," and other well-known hymns.
The test is conducted by the Rev. John Williams, and converts are discovered in large numbers. The revivalist predicts the conversions in several instances. For the sake of "some particular one in the building" we are commanded to sing the Welsh hymn:
(The ordeal of the last great day). Then for the sake of "someone sitting between the pillars under the front gallery" the congregation is told to recite three times the verse "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall stand?" Total number of converts, 24.
Just as the meeting is about to close the revivalist declares that near the door on his left is someone ready to surrender, but that no one had asked him. A search was made, but without result.
The missioner is persistent, and over and over again the meeting is tested.
"There is dishonesty," we are indignantly told, "for over there is a person, a woman, a Welshwoman, holding up her hand who is not a member."
One of the stewards responds, "Here is one who says she has given her heart to God, but does not desire to join any church. This does not satisfy the evangelist. "As sure as I am here, there is a Welshwoman who is acting a dishonest part. Now let us try another test. Whatever you do, be honest."
The test is made, the evangelist closes his eyes, and suddenly declares, "Ah, she has raised her hand again, she is hiding from men, but she cannot hide from God. Don't think" - he is now addressing the audience - "that your curiosity will be gratified tonight; if God will hide her I have nothing to say." He refused to let the meeting be again tested. At the close a lady came forward with the statement that there was a woman in the meeting answering to the description given, but she had gone out before the meeting ended.
Fitzclarence Street Meeting. - Persistent interrupter denounces Evan
LIVERPOOL, Thursday, April 13, 1905.
"The slowest, coldest, most irresponsive revival congregation I have ever yet seen" is the thought that passes through my mind an hour after my arrival at tonight's meeting. It is held in the Fitzclarence Street Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church, of which the Rev. John Hughes, M.A., is the pastor, and it reminds me of that icy gathering witnessed on the first night of the Liverpool mission at Princes Road. Not that there is any lack of devotion, not to say solemnity. What we miss is the fire, the spontaneity, which we have been taught to expect now as a matter of course. Possibly when the missioner arrives he will be able to set even this eminently respectable and highly decorous audience ablaze.
Fitzclarence is a fine, commodious, old-fashioned chapel, and at the moment there is in it a congregation of about 1,300 people, with another thousand or two outside. The "set fawr" is crowded with ministers, and the ground floor pews for a long distance down the aisles are occupied by non-adherents, who have been admitted by special tickets.
Shortly before the missioner's arrival at 7 We hear succession of petitions for a downpour of the Spirit of prayer. Curiously, here's a young man in the gallery complaining in prayer that church members seem ashamed to confess their Saviour, while simultaneously an older man in another part of the building is praising heaven in a great hwyl "that Thou, O Lord, hast made Thy Holy Spirit felt by all present." Both men regard the meeting from different standpoints.
We are singing, and the missioner suddenly calls upon us to cease.
"There is too much singing here," he declares, "and not enough prayer. Don't quench the Spirit of prayer. There is going to be a terrible struggle here tonight. The enemy will be at his best, but somehow you, or onehalf of you, don't seem to be realising your responsibility. Remember the unsaved souls there are here, with the devil holding them bound. Can we be quiet while they are in fetters? Ask Heaven for a downpour of the Spirit of prayer. We may sing all through the night without saving a single soul. It is prayer that tells; it is prayer that saves; it is prayer that will pull the heavens down upon us."
This stirring appeal has the effect anticipated. The congregation is roused out of its lethargy. Shyness and reticence disappear, and a large number of simultaneous prayers are offered by men and women, young and old.
"Save these dear old drunkards," "Draw these prodigals home," "Come Thyself in our midst," are a few of the phrases that fall on our ears.
Many of the prayers tonight are in English. A country girl in the gallery - she can scarcely be more than 18 - charms us with her eloquence, and hoary-headed ministers, with faces be-dewed with tears, are thrown into ecstasy, and punctuate the girl's great prayer with perfervid "Amenau." The hwyl is now at white heat. Can this excited throng be the same congregation as we wrote of an hour ago?
There are some visitors from America here tonight. The Rev. E. L. Hughes, Rome, N.Y., has crossed the Atlantic specially to witness some of the Liverpool meetings. Another American visitor is the Rev. L. Ton Evans, well known in South Wales.
At a Ferndale gathering in the early days of the revival Mr. Evan Roberts, so as to demonstrate the power of the Spirit, and so that all the praise and glory be given the Spirit, tested the meeting before he (the missioner) had said a word. He is now repeating the experiment. It is 8.40, and as yet he has scarcely raised his head from his hands or opened his eyes, and yet he quietly requests the Rev. John Williams to put the meeting to the test.
The test yields some remarkable results. Twenty or thirty converts are announced. "Diolch Iddo" is ecstatically sung.
It proves too much for the evangelist. He springs to his feet, and is now all alertness. Converts cannot be found fast enough for him. His every prediction is verified. Now he points to the gallery, exclaiming, "There is one there ready! " and one is found. Next it is on the ground floor, and again a declaration of conversion follows. This goes on for 10 or 15 minutes, and Englishmen around me, to whom the proceedings are explained, are simply dumb with astonishment. The Welsh section of the audience accepts these predictions as a matter of course.
A distressing scene is witnessed in the gallery. A woman in agony cries for help. She wants to surrender, but cannot for it is not clear." "Pray that the light be given her," is the missioner's command, and scores present give immediate obedience. Ere long she is numbered among the converts. Over there an English convert is declared. "Amen," declares Evan Roberts, "there is room for all inside."
"Thou Dreamer of Dreams."
A second or two later a dramatic and somewhat painful incident is enacted. "Halt, halt," a stentorian voice rings through the crowded building, and looking to the left gallery we observe there standing a tall, slim, ill-clad man, of between 30 and 40, pointing excitedly towards the missioner, who proceeds with his predictions apparently oblivious to all around. "Halt," continues the man in English, "thou dreamer of dreams, let thy dreams cease; thou deceiver of the nations, thy hour has come; the master of the house has risen." Then addressing the startled ministers in the pulpit pew he went on: "You are no longer ministers of the Gospel but ministers of tradition. No longer is the Word of God your guide."
The evangelist is in no way disconcerted. One glance only does he throw in the direction of the brawler, whose voice is drowned in the strains of "Diolch Iddo," signifying the addition of other converts. The interrupter is presently heard in loud argument with some of the stewards. "Leave him alone." cries the missioner, "don't argue with him, leave him alone." "I am telling them a bit of truth," replies the man, "and that is more than they can tell me." Someone cries "Out with him," but the missioner holds un a warning hand. "No, no, cast him not out, but pray for him," But the interrupter cannot be silenced. "Don't you pray for me," he cries; "you cannot deceive me, you hypocrites; you have departed from the truth from the first, you Nonconformists."
The Rev. John Williams intimates that unless the brawler is silent he must be put out. The interrupter turns into Glamorganshire Welsh and declares himself an Anglican Churchman.
A Liverpool vicar works his way to the pew in which the man stands and advises him to sit down. "No, no," answers the missioner as someone again cries "Out with him." "No, no, we will go on with the work. The meeting is going on yn fendigedig (blessedly). There is Someone greater than us in charge of this meeting. Let us commit our friend to His care."
The Liverpool Committee are improving their methods at every meeting. Tonight there is a steward in every pew in the chapel, with pen and pencil ready. The stewards, 194 in number, jot down the names and addresses, of the converts, and presently the sheets are handed in. "You will rejoice to learn," declares the Rev. John Williams, "though it adds greatly to our responsibilities, that the converts tonight number 104, Here is another instance that the meetings that pay are the meetings arranged for the non-adherents."
But the work is not yet over. The announcement only serves to incite the workers to redouble their efforts, and declarations of conversions again come in large numbers. We sing "Lead, Kindly Light," "Marchog Jesu," and other hymns, and many prayers of praise are offered that the Lord has been with His people.
The missioner, who has delivered no address tonight, now informs those who are still undecided that never again would they be the subject of so many prayers.
The voice of the brawler is again heard in the gallery. Stewards seek to silence him, and the man cries out, "I am speaking the truth." "Ah," responds the missioner, "the devil can speak the truth - sometimes."
The Rev. John Williams again warns the man. "Not another syllable," is the warning. "Oh," is the answer, "you are not going to frighten me."
"Heed him not, friends," declares the evangelist, smilingly, "God has tolerated this man for years, let us tolerate him for a short while. The God that can lift is also the God that can cast out. I have seen many hindrances at these gatherings, but no hindrance that God has not removed." This announcement is hailed with another outburst of
Requests for prayers came from a mother for a son, from a father in Anglesey who has not heard from his son in Liverpool for many years, from a youth on the balcony who wants, but lacks, the courage to give in.
"Will some one pray for those who have gone out unable to stand the strain of this meeting?" It is a minister that speaks, and he adds, "One man went out who has not been in a place of worship for 20 years." "No," is the joyful response from someone, "he is come back and has surrendered."
Slowly, but surely, the number of converts mounts up, until at last a total of 120 is reached, and then about 10.30 the service is concluded.
Great Scene in Chatham Street. - Ministers Attack Evan Roberts.
LIVERPOOL, Friday, April 14, 1905.
Mr. Evan Roberts tonight enjoyed another new experience. In South Wales his congregations have invariably comprised both sexes. In Liverpool he has addressed two special afternoon meetings for women only. Tonight he is for the first time in his life facing an audience exclusively of men.
The scene is the large Welsh C. M. Chapel of Chatham Street, which a few years ago formed the pastorate of the Rev. W. O. Jones, now the chief minister of the Free Church of the Welsh. The present minister of Chatham Street is the Rev. Richard Humphreys, formerly of Bontnewydd, ex-secretary of the General Assembly, and it is he that is tonight in charge of the meeting.
The doors were kept closed until 6.30, so that working men and others engaged in business during the day might have an opportunity to attend.
That the action of the committee has been appreciated and fully justified is amply demonstrated by one glance at this inspiring audience. The men are of all ages, and representative of all classes, from the prosperous merchant to the thrifty artisan. The building affords sitting accommodation for a thousand people, but there are many more present tonight.
Mr. Evan Roberts, who was in the pulpit promptly at 7 o'clock, regards the scene with evident pleasure. Before his arrival we had many prayers, and the singing, if it suffers from the lack of sopranos, lacks nothing in heartiness and hwyl. Solemnity and deep devotion mark the service.
There is a large sprinkling of Englishmen in the audience. We have just been listening to five or six successive prayers, all in English, offered in various parts of the chapel by as many laymen. The great theme of each is praise for the revival in Wales and prayers for the spread of it in England. The Rev. Mr. Wood, formerly of the Church of England, now of the Liverpool Mission of Love, intercedes on behalf of the revivalist.
"Preserve him, O Lord," he cries, "from the attacks of Satan, against the attacks of those who hate him, on the platform and in the Press. Baptise him afresh with courage, strengthen him, and let not his heart break.
Help him to bear his cross." Many more prayers follow in the same strain, and presently the congregation rise with one accord and sing with great power the crowning hymn, to the tune "Diadem." Here, as in Wales, young men take a prominent part in the service.
The revivalist is in one of his silent moods. It is now 8.45. He has been in the pulpit an hour and three-quarters. As yet his voice has not been heard. His critics are the subject of many prayers.
"Forgive them, O Lord," entreats a young man from Manchester, "for they know not what they do." It has been more than once suggested that the spontaneity witnessed at revival meetings is due to the initiative of woman. This meeting is now over two hours' old, and every minute has been fully occupied. Greater spontaneity has not been seen at any previous meeting I have attended.
It is nine o'clock. The Rev. J. Hawen Rees (C), Liverpool, in a fervent prayer, asks that the lips of the revivalist be unsealed, whatever be the message he has to deliver. The congregation is apparently in no hurry, for hymn after hymn, English and Welsh, follow in endless succession. In the ecstasy of its devotion this great throng seems to have forgotten the very existence of the missioner.
Suddenly (at 9.15) we look up and realise that we are in the midst of a great and stirring scene. A storm has broken without the slightest warning. As we are concluding one of the hymns a voice from somewhere under the right gallery rings out in Welsh, "I propose that we finish the meeting. It is folly to go on like this." A minister in the deacons' pew jumps up as if shot. "Quite right" - he spoke in Welsh - "I have a question to put to Evan Roberts, Hast thou been reconciled to thy brother before thou camest to this meeting tonight; why dost thou play and trifle with sacred things like this?"
The congregation, deeply stirred, stands, and, as if resolved to drown the voice of the interrupter, breaks out in a majestic rendering of Huddersfield to the words "Duw Mawr y thyfeddodau maith." The singers are led by a full-bearded stranger, who has rushed halfway up the pulpit stairs, and from that point of vantage acts as conductor. Meanwhile, up the opposite stair, the Rev. W. O. Evans, Wesleyan minister, of Bootle, ascends the pulpit and whispers in the revivalist's ear. Mr. Evan Roberts scarcely makes a movement. He continues in the attitude he has assumed ever since he entered the building - his body bent and his face buried in his hands.
While the congregation is singing, I turn to the interrupter and ask, "Who are you, sir?" "I am the Rev. Daniel Hughes, Baptist minister, of Chester."
"Do you suggest that Evan Roberts is in need of being reconciled to any of his brothers?"
"I was alluding to the Rev. W. O. Jones. Evan Roberts has not been reconciled with him, and that is why he cannot speak at this meeting."
The Welsh hymn having at last concluded, the self-appointed musical conductor commands, "Let us sing 'All hail the power of Jesu's name.' Everybody will have to bend to Jesus Christ."
Once more the grand strains of "Diadem" fill the building. Presently the man who is leading the singing tells me his name is Mr. Jac Evans, of Barry; that he came here to protect Evan Roberts, that he had come up from Barry today specially to protect Evan Roberts in view of this attack.
"But," I whisper, "did you know that he was to be attacked tonight?" "No, I didn't, but I have been driven here, and I seemed to know why I had come. I have not slept because of thinking of Evan Roberts for the last two nights."
Looking at the congregation I note the excitement is abating. There are dozens now at prayer. "Lord," cries one, "enable us to hear Thy voice even in the silence, if that be Thy will. Forgive these who have come to Thy house in a spirit of criticism."
The Rev. Daniel Hughes has been putting on his overcoat, as if he were determined to leave, but he changes his mind, for he presently resumes his seat. A minute or two later prayers cease. There is absolute stillness, and then from her seat in the pulpit Miss Annie Davies fills the building with her exquisite voice in a soft and tender rendering of Newman's hymn "Lead Kindly Light."
The revivalist looks up. We see his face for the first time for two hours. It is lit up with smiles. The exacting scene of ten minutes ago has presumably in no way disconcerted him. An aged minister prays with great pathos, "that Thou, O Lord, give us one beam of light at the end of this meeting." The Rev. Robert Lewis, minister of the Welsh Wesleyan church of Shaw Street, is also heard in supplication. "Satan and his ungodly crew," he declares, in prayer, "are trying to destroy the church, but they cannot. Our Jesus is a living Jesus, and He has the keys." This is hailed with great cries of "Diolch Iddo" and "Amen." The Rev. Abel J. Parry, ex-president of the Baptist Union of Wales, also engages in prayer "for the manifestation of Thy Presence in this hour of trial." We have more hymns and the incident seems to be closed.
The Rev. W. O. Evans, who had been sitting close to the missioner in the pulpit, now rises. "Now," he remarks, "is the best time to test the meeting. Possibly many of you are disappointed because we did not tonight hear our brother speak, but he will not speak without a message to deliver from God. (The revivalist looks up, smiling). We can be sure of that; but God Himself is here, and it is God that can save: There have been fervent prayers offered tonight for God to reveal Himself as a God that saves."
The meeting is tested in the usual way, and three converts are discovered. "Diolch Iddo" is sung. A man on the edge of the gallery now speaks - an Englishman. He is, he tells the audience, an expelled member from the Congregationalists because he had investigated the truth as it is given in the Scriptures. He believed in the second advent of Christ to reign over the saints on earth, and why didn't the Liverpool members preach that truth?
The Rev. W. O. Evans: "This is not the time for such a discussion. Are you a Christian? We have something else to do now, friend."
More converts are discovered. We are about to start a hymn, when another minister, who has been sitting next to the Rev. Daniel Hughes, and who is visibly agitated, tries to address the audience. "Before you sing the hymn," he cries, "I want to say this - - " But he is too late, the audience continues the hymn. The minister, who is the Rev. H. M. Roberts, Calvinistic Methodist, of Rhydlydan, turning to those near him, exclaims: "This is not the work of the Holy Ghost; it is the work of the genius of man. All that has taken place here tonight is mockery."
The hymn over, the Rev. W. O. Evans pronounces the benediction and declared the meeting closed.
The revivalist is still in the pulpit. He has all through the service not spoken a word. The congregation is loth to depart, as if anticipating further scenes.
Presently, the missioner and the two young ladies are hurried down the pulpit steps and into its vestry behind. The door is closed and a stern janitor is set on guard. Mean-while the Rev. H. M. Roberts is engaged in heated argument with other ministers in the neighbourhood of the big pew. He emphatically asserts that knowledge has been given him that the revival is man-made, that Roberts is not guided of the Holy Spirit, and, he excitedly exclaims, addressing the ministers around him, "So do more than half of you believe if you only had the courage of your convictions."
Then he suddenly mounts a seat, and facing the dispersing congregation, cries out, "Before you depart I wish to explain - " He is not allowed to proceed any further. Cries of "Turn him out," "Take that coat off," are heard, and half-a-dozen hymns are started.
The Rev. Richard Humphreys, the pastor of the church, hurries to the pulpit and declares "The service is over; will you please depart. Those of you about the door please start now; go at once, please, or we shall have to put the gas out."
Alarmed by this threat the congregation hurries out, but for a considerable time afterwards large crowds remained in the precincts of Chatham Street, eagerly discussing the stirring events of the concluding half-hour of the most extraordinary meeting yet held.
Hundreds waited long and patiently for the appearance of Evan Roberts, but the revivalist and his party had left the building through the vestry behind, a cab being in waiting in the adjoining lane.
"Why didn't Evan Roberts speak? " I asked the Rev. W. O. Evans, as we quitted the scene.
"Because," was the reply, "Evan Roberts had no message given him, and he further told me that he felt that this opposition would have revealed itself."
Saturday, April 15, 1905.
Last night's extraordinary scene at Chatham Street Chapel has thrown the city into a ferment. It is simply impossible to escape from the subject. It is the sole topic of conversation in trains, trams, on the ferries, and in the clubs. The great majority seem to stand by Evan Roberts, and his refusal to speak when he had no message to deliver is regarded as a proof of the man's sincerity in his belief that in every action he is guided by the Divine Spirit.
Evan Roberts himself is in no way perturbed. He has this morning gone out for a long country drive with the Rev. John Williams, of Princes Road, whose absence from last night's meeting is keenly regretted. He was away fulfilling a preaching engagement at the North Wales C.M. Association at Wrexham. It is felt that had Mr. Williams been present the influence of his strong and commanding personality would, as at the Sun Hall meeting, have had a salutary restraining influence upon all. It is interesting to note, that in leaving the meeting the Rev. Daniel Hughes, the Chester Baptist minister who figured so prominently last night, gave to some of the stewards the address of the house he is staying at in Liverpool, and that the address given is the home of the Rev. W. O. Jones.
Letter from the Rev. Daniel Hughes.
The following letter from the Rev. Daniel. Hughes appeared in the "Liverpool Courier" on the morning of the day on which the, Chatham Street meeting was held:
- Sir, - I read with intense pain the report of Mr. Evan Roberts' sensational message concerning the Free Church of the Welsh in Liverpool, and beg you to allow me some space in which to offer a comment. May I say that I also am a collier boy from Wales, possess the, most genuine Welsh sympathies, and preached in my early teens? I am now some four years older than Evan Roberts, and have held two important pastorates for over seven years in the English Baptist ministry.
I record the above in order to reveal the foundation of my sympathies with the ardent evangelist, and to show that prejudice against him is entirely foreign to me. As president of the Chester and District Union of Christian Endeavourers, I have urged the members to pray for Mr. Roberts in my church, and in other churches I have not ceased to press for petitions on his behalf. In my pulpit I have made references to him with enthusiasm, and have not ceased to pray for his brother and his work.
With the revival in general it is well known I am in the fullest sympathy, and spend every spare day in Wales to render what help I may be enabled to. So your readers will understand that my comment is wrung from me by the evangelist, not without inexpressible pain. I must continue to pray for him; but my prayer in the future, unless he confesses the wrong he has done, must be one of intense agony begotten of the love I have for him and the still deeper love I have for truth.
Several persons who have for many years made a minute study of subjects such as hypnotism, personal magnetism, etc., tell me that every gesture, voice eccentricity, they have seen Evan Roberts perform bear unmistakable evidence of the source of his inspiration; but I have replied that whatever method he adopts to impress people, he is fully justified as his purpose is to do good. I do notice a striking similarity between the claimed Holy Spirit guidance of Evan Roberts and the accepted rules and methods of the above isms, but why not if he considers such to be the best?
But, when Mr. Evan Roberts claims to receive sensational messages from high heaven, and dogmatically asserts that a section of the Christian church as such is not founded on the rock (by which, I presume, he means Christ), then I think it is time that all sane and justice-loving men should enter a protest as strong (if not as bitter) as the monstrous charge. Visions are not confined to Evan Roberts. He cannot monopolise the Holy Spirit; he is not infallible, though he acts as if he were. And this young evangelist comes to Liverpool and bans on the authority of God a community of evangelical Christians, numbering over 2,000, Christians who are led by devoted servants of God, whose chief leader has been a spiritual cheer to many hearts, whose home is like Bethany's, whose prayer at Westminster Road meeting expressed (without hysteria) depth of conviction and a closeness of contact with spiritual realities, whose one aim is the extension of the Kingdom of Christ, Christians who have brought a large number of the stray souls of Liverpool to a fold and a home, who have sacrificed greatly and have been blessed greatly by the Heavenly Father; Christians among whom are old and tried men of prayer and service, who have evangelised in Liverpool in a humble way ere Mr. Evan Roberts was born.
Yes, these are the people who are told by this young magnetic person that their church is not founded on the Rock. Liverpool should cry "Shame" No; visions are not confined to Evan Roberts. I have also received a vision; it is from God. I received it, it is true, without physical paroxysms before thousands of highly strung worshippers, but in the quiet of a Presence which stands for justice, love, service, and this spirit moves me to write. I wish I were not called upon to do so, but it is the spirit's message. Evan Roberts can do with it what he likes, it comes direct from God, the burden is too heavy for me to bear, I must deliver it.
Brother Evan Roberts look to yourself and pray for forgiveness, confess the bitter injustice you have perpetrated. Seek the Rev. W. O. Jones, fall on his neck and weep, he will be ready to forgive; see that, before you speak in the name of God again, you are right with your brother in the ministry. You rightly divined that the "obstacle" was there - in the ministry. Look still nearer home, and behold it entering the chapel as you make your appearance.
Good Spirit, forgive this young man for fanning a feud in the name of God. Lord, bend him. - I am, etc.,
(Rev.) DANIEL HUGHES. Chester, April 13th, 1905.
Evan Roberts's Secret.
Rev. D. Hughes, Chester, whose interposition at Chatham Street Chapel, Liverpool, was the cause of an extraordinary scene, has written to the "Liverpool Courier": - "Evan Roberts is no psychological problem to me. I claim to understand what arts he uses to produce the desired effects, and what his secret is. His silence is essential to his success; his interruptions have a purpose; his prophetic utterances are perfectly sane. I hope to follow this young genius (for genius he is) through the country, to deliver a lecture in English and Welsh, entitled, 'Evan Roberts Explained and Exposed.'"
Liverpool's Last Meeting. - Health of the Revivalist. - Mentally and
LIVERPOOL, Saturday, April 15,1905
It was with a good deal of misgiving that many hundreds of the friends of the Welsh revival wended their way this evening to the Princes Road Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, where the last of the city meetings was to be held. The exciting and unpleasant incidents which marked the close of last evening's gathering at Chatham Street had created a deep and painful sensation, and a rumour was seduously circulated that some ministers and others who felt they had received a call to oppose Mr. Evan Roberts and his work, would make another effort to voice their protests and grievances at tonight's meeting at Princes Road.
In view of this, the Liverpool Revival Committee held a special meeting on Saturday morning, when it was resolved to take strong measures to prevent the recurrence of anything like the scenes witnessed at Chatham Street and Fitzclarence Chapels. Instructions were issued to the doorkeepers to refuse admittance to persons suspected of any hostile intentions, and to the stewards to summarily eject anyone found disturbing the worship.
This gathering tonight is intended mainly for esgeuluswyr (nonadherents), and they came early in large numbers, and were admitted to the best places before the doors were thrown open to the general public, of whom many thousands were turned away disappointed. Sir Edward and Lady Russell are among those accommodated with seats in the deacons' pew.
Shortly before seven o'clock, and before the missioner arrived, the Rev. John Williams, pastor of the church, ascends the pulpit and announces that this will be Mr. Evan Roberts's last meeting in Liverpool.
"We must all be agreed on one point," he continues, "and that is that Mr. Evan Roberts is a very extraordinary man, and it is not surprising that people differ so much in their opinions about him. Every man, who is great, mentally or religiously, is sure to divide the world's opinion. We must not be offended if people criticise him, so long as they criticise him sensibly. We were not without fear as to Mr. Evan Roberts's state of health after the very hard work he has gone through for many months, but you will be pleased to hear what I am going to read. North Wales is eager to hear Mr. Roberts, but he must be given peace and quietness for six weeks or two months to come. Mr. Roberts was today taken to four medical men in this city, all, eminent in their own special branches. At the cThse of the examination they signed this certificate: -
"88, Rodney Street, Liverpool. "We have today examined Mr. Evan Roberts. We find hint mentally and physically quite sound. He is suffering from the effects of overwork, and we consider it advisable that he should have a period of rest
"James Barr, M.D., F.R.C.P. "
William Williams, M.D., M.R.C.P. "
Thomas H. Bickerton, M.R.C.S. William McAfee, M.D.
"April 15th, 1905."
The reading of the certificate was hailed with loud exclamations of "Diolch Iddo" (Praise be unto Him). "Now," proceeded the rev gentleman, "one word more. No one is to say one word tonight to disturb or agitate the meeting in any way. You are welcome to form any opinion you like so long as you form it fairly and honestly, but this meeting is meant for the rescue of sinners, to reach those who have for years neglected the means of grace, and to renew the faith of the saints. Should anyone break upon its peace by asking a question or saying anything else, arrangements have been made to secure the prompt expulsion of the disturbers." (Amen.)
Hearty expressions of approval greeted this stern but salutiry warning from all parts of the crowded edifice. Then, for the next hour, the meeting proceeded on familiar revival lines, the spontaneity being remarkable. There was a strong English element present, and many of the hymns and prayers were in that language. There were frequent references in the prayers to recent revival incidents. One Englishwoman in her prayer declared, "God bless our brother. My heart has burned within me this week for those who are in opposition to him," while another petitioned, "Keep back the powers of darkness tonight, O Lord." Mr. Evan Roberts ascended the pulpit about 7 o'clock, and for the next half an hour leant on the desk, now turning over the leaves of the pulpit Bible, and anon offering silent prayer. He resumed his seat, and when his face was next seen it bore traces of recent weeping. Meanwhile, a great increase of fervency was felt in the congregation, and simultaneous prayer multiplied. Among the number was a pathetic prayer by Mrs. Davies, a daughter of the famous Welsh divine, the late John Jones, or Talysarn.
At 8.50, before the missioner had yet broken his silence, the Rev. John Williams proceeded to test the meeting for converts. They were found in large numbers in all parts of the chapel, and the congregation hailed every announcement with great outbursts of musical praise.
"Keep-praying, friends, keep praying," urges the Rev. Mr. Williams, "for that is the secret of the success of this revival. There is much praying going on all the evening in this pulpit. My brother is, and has been, on his knees by my side for a long time past."
Presently the congregation with one voice recited the Lord's invitation, "Come unto Me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Accept the Christ," exclaimed the minister, "and you will never-be disappointed in Him. There are hundreds here who have accepted Him. Is there one who has been disappointed in Him? If so, let him raise his hand." But there was no response. "Has any one of you been disappointed in Jesus?" he repeated, and back in a great volume of sound came the emphatic answer, "Na."
A second later the congregation gave a fervent rendering of the old Welsh hymn:
At last, at 9.30, the revivalist is on his feet. The singing does not please him. "You are not nearly at your best," he exclaims, "the enemy is here at his best. A great struggle is now going on. Thank Heaven, the last half hour has been a great lesson to me. More prayers, friends, more prayers, until Heaven is compelled to listen, until Satan is bound to flee, and souls are freed for ever. Every believer must do his best here, for the father of lies is here at his very best. Pray, pray, that Christ show His authority and cast him out. Remember! Jesus is King."
The missioner's stirring address throws the congregation into a great tumult of prayer. For five minutes many hundreds raise their voices in supplication for the salvation of souls. "For thos- who have not come tonight," exclaims the missioner presently, with face brightened with smiles, "here is a promise:
'For thus saith the Lord God, behold I - even I - will both search My sheep and seek them out. . . . I will seek that which is lost and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick.'
"The flock," he continued, "would not be left to the care of hired servants; not Michael, not Gabriel, but the great Shepherd Himself would tend His flock. 'And the government shall be upon His shoulder.' Where would the sheep be? On His shoulders; one shoulder for the government, both shoulders for the sheep."
After this many more converts are discovered, and Miss Annie Davies, whose voice is now heard for the first time this evening, delights the audience with an inspired rendering of the revival love song, "Dyma gariad." The number of converts at this one service totaled 72. Free Church of Wales. - Foundation Stone Laying. - Reply to Evan Roberts.
The foundation stones of the sixth chapel of the Free Church of Wales, the denomination recently described by Mr. Evan Roberts as not being "founded on the Rock," were laid on a site at the corner of Upper Canning Street and Almond Street, Liverpool, this afternoon. The site has been purchased for £1,175, and the chapel, to accommodate 450, will cost about £3,000.
Mr. Thomas Davies, J. P., of Bootle, who presided, remarked that in view of the recent occurrences, he had been determined to be present on that occasion, in spite of physical disabilities. He rejoiced at the prospect of the Hope Hall congregation, the parent congregation, having a permanent home of their own, and he was especially pleased with the liberal and spontaneous way in which they were meeting their financial obligations. He believed they could say that their feet were on the Rock, and that they were building on a sound foundation. (Hear, hear.) He ventured to say this in spite of the prejudice and the ignorance and the impertinence of a disordered brain. Let them take courage. The Lord had blessed them in the past, and they had a great work to do. (Applause.)
The Rev. W. O. Jones afterwards addressed the gathering. They were assembled he said, under extraordinary circumstances. They had had a notable week, and it was difficult not to refer to what had happened. As some of them knew, he had believed very strongly in Evan Roberts, and had written and spoken in his favour, because he had believed him to be an instrument in the hands of God to do a great work in Wales. He regretted very much what had happened, but he had seen signs of its coming when Evan Roberts had been trying to do things which God did not permit. He (Mr. Jones) and hundreds of others were witnesses - who knew better than Evan Roberts could possibly know - that God was with them and that they were safe on the Rock. If a thousand Evan Robertses stated differently they would not believe them. If Evan Roberts was right why did he not come among them privately, and pray with them and try to put them right, instead of hurling his thunderbolt against them in public? (Hear, hear.) (A Voice: He has been misled.) Someone, at any rate, had made a great mistake. Though he did not believe that Evan Roberts's message was a Divine one, it was possible that God had something to say to them in all this, and therefore let them examine themselves and cultivate more humility, and be more strenuous in their efforts for the Kingdom of God.
Mr. J. Rowland Williams also referred to the "unwarrantable remark" of Mr. Evan Roberts. They had been praying for weeks that the result of the mission would be to promote unity and do away, with sectarianism. It had been their own desire to do away with any jealousy that might have existed between one denomination and another. He was not sure but that what had happened might do good.
Mr. G. C. Rees said that the cause of the secession lay deep-rooted in humanity, the love of freedom, and a dislike of authority in religion. The occasion was a different matter, and came because of a most flagrant abuse of authority, and one of the most unchristian acts that had been done in Liverpool in their time. (Hear, hear.) When they left the old connexion they left without riches, and with only one minister, and he a man whom some had done their utmost to discredit; but, although they were poor in money, they were rich in faith, and they found that there was a big body of Welsh people. possessed of a deep-rooted love of religious freedom, and who came together without having previously known one another. They had now eight places of worship in this district, and all the time there had been a little spark struggling away in Carnarvon, carefully nourished and tended by William Jones, a joiner by trade, but a minister of God by right. Some day that little spark, they hoped, would burst into a flame that would spread all over Wales.
The Final Meeting. - Evan Roberts's Rest. - Offers of hospitality.
BIRKENHEAD, Monday, April 17, 1905.
Mr. Evan Roberts's mission at Liverpool concluded on Saturday night, but in compliance with urgent requests he consented to delay his departure one day, in order to be present this evening at a special meeting for non-adherents in the borough of Birkenhead. The revivalist, who with his sister and Miss Annie Davies spent the day at West Kirby as the guests of Dr. and Mrs. McAfee, has been overwhelmed with offers of hospitality for his forthcoming period of rest. Among other country houses placed at his disposal are (1) Ty Coch, Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, the residence of Mr. Ellis Jones Griffith, M.P. (2) A mansion in Dyffryn Ceiriog, by Mr. A. T. Davies, solicitor, of the Liverpool firm of Messrs. Herbert Lewis, M.P., and Davies; and (3) a house at Burton, by Dr. and Mrs. Bickerton, Liverpool.
Today the Rev. John McNeill, the well-known evangelist, wired as follows to the Rev. John Williams, Princes Road, Liverpool: - "Wife and I cordially invite Evan Roberts here. I am at home this week-end. Next train through Glasgow St. Enoch. Will meet him there. Quiet place, where he will be quite hidden. We stand 500ft. high and splendid air. - John McNeill, Kilmalcolm."
All these offers, however, have, for the present, been declined with thanks, other arrangements having been made.
Tonight's meeting is held in the Brunswick English Wesleyan Chapel, Price Street, Birkenhead, a building affording accommodation for 1,200 people. Keen eagerness to secure admittance was again, exhibited, a crowd of many thousands assembling in front of the building early in the afternoon. Brunswick Chapel was densely packed a few minutes after the doors were opened at 6.30 p.m., and an overflow service was arranged at the Clifton Road Welsh Congregational Church, where the Rev. T. Nicholson officiated.
At the Brunswick Chapel, where the Rev. Jos. Davies (B.) and the Rev. Thos. Gray (C.M.) were in charge, the proceedings before the missioner's arrival dragged considerably, there being a marked absence of that enthusiasm and spontaneity witnessed at former gatherings. It was noticeable, however, that no sooner had Mr. Evan Roberts arrived and taken his seat in the pulpit than the congregation seemed infused by a new spirit. The hymns were rendered with ever-increasing fervency, and the spontaneous prayers multiplied.
Dr. McAfee, of West Kirby, struck a new note at these Liverpool mission meetings, though similar references are familiar enough in the gatherings in South Wales. He thanked God for the great service now rendered by the newspaper Press of England in the dissemination of the Word of God, and for the kindly spirit in which that powerful agency had treated the revival. Wherever men and women read the reports of these gatherings, whether at the breakfast table, in the tramcar, trains, ferry-boats, or on the hillside, let the Holy Spirit be there, and might thousands who were now beyond the reach of the evangelist's voice hear the message and be won to the Kingdom of God.
Tonight the revivalist is on his feet early, and delivers the longest address yet heard from him during his visit. It is directed in the main to those present who have not yet decided for Christ. Some in the congregation tonight would, he declares, leave the building as they came into it - empty; others would leave with their pitchers half-full;. others would have their pitchers filled, but, God be thanked, a large number of them would have their pitchers filled to overflowing with the living waters, and the thirst of others would thus be quenched.
Suddenly he stops and, addressing a section in the left gallery, he remarks, "There is too much whispering in the house. By all means interpret all you can to English friends present, but let no idle word be uttered. If we could only realise that God is in very reality among us, these meaningless smiles and frivolous glances would disappear." Proceeding, he dwells impressively on the omniscience and omnipotence of God. All present had sinned, and sin was in them, but that was no reason why they should cherish sin and embrace it. The great need was for every man to see himself as he really was. The revelation would be so awful that the first instinct would be to flee and hide. It was terrible to see one's self without also seeing a refuge. Such an experience was hell. But to see one's self and then see Christ was joy, heaven. The darkness of the night would be as nothing to the brightness of the succeeding dawn. Some in that meeting had seen and were safe; others had seen and wanted to be safe, but could not - they were fettered by Satan, but the Son of God could free them. "If the Son shall make you free then you shall be free indeed."
Looking smilingly on the great gathering of non-adherents in front of him, the missioner remarked, "Christ has encircled those who have accepted Him. Some of you are outside the circle, and you must come in. Is there place? Yes, your place is inside. You are out of place outside."
Presently the missioner was interrupted by a crying infant in the gallery.
"Never mind the children," was his comment. "Oh, that we were all children. That cry may be a sermon to someone present. It is meant as a blessing, there's no doubt of that. Are you not reminded of a verse in the Hebrews - 'When he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears. Who was He? Not a man, but the God-man.
Some see in tears a sign of weakness, but it is only the true man that can cry. Ask the Son of God, Who, when He saw a city, wept over it. Have any of you shed a tear over the iniquity of man? If not, you must get nearer to Christ. Unbelievers," he continued, "had but two alternatives. They must have life or die. ; they must accept the Saviour or die. Which was it to be?"
After prayers of great power by Miss Annie Davies and others, the revivalist acts the role of choirmaster, and, obedient to his request, the congregation sing a number of Welsh hymns. Their rendering of "Marchog lesu yn llwyddianus" sorely displeased him. There was, he said, no verve, no martial spirit in their treatment of this grand old Christian war march, and it had to be repeated again and again with accelerated tempo.
The congregation soon afterwards was tested by the Rev. John Williams, and converts in large numbers were reported from all parts of the building.
The missioner was seen at his best during the next hour, now tenderly appealing to the unconverted, now exhorting believers to pray, and anon meeting a difficulty with an apt quotation from Scripture or an epigrammatic repartee. Of some in the audience it was said that they did not "feel." "Let them go to Calvary," was the quick retort, "and looking at the Crucified One, say, 'Lord Jesus, Thou hast not done enough for me.'"
Presently a minister cried out, "There's a friend here who says he has felt more many times than he has tonight' "That's the danger," was the evangelist's answer. "You will get to feel less and less; but it is not a question of feeling. It is a matter of believing. But that friend there is bound to come." And ten minutes later, after Miss Annie Davies's beautiful and pathetic rendering of "Dim ond lesu," a voice announced, "The brother has now yielded, and because of that another has yielded, too." Altogether 44 converts were announced.
The meeting was one of the most pleasant and joyful of the series. Mr. Evan Roberts was radiant with smiles, and it was observed with pleasure that not once during the evening was he subjected to any paroxysms. This was, too, one of the few meetings during the past fortnight in which he complained of no hindrance, and indulged in no predictions. The Rev. John Williams pronounced the Benediction, and then the congregation, upstanding, bid the missioner farewell in the hymn, "God be with you till we meet again," the refrain of which was many times repeated. "Let the next meeting be soon, friend," cried a voice in the gallery, and the evangelist replied, "God will decide."
During a short interview at the close with Councillor Henry Jones, one of the secretaries of the Liverpool Revival Committee, I was informed that the total number of converts during the three weeks' mission has totalled 750. During Sunday converts were registered at all the Welsh churches in Liverpool and district, the numbers at each varying from six to 15. In many cases the canvassers devoted the whole of Sunday to visiting the non-adherents and influencing them to commence a new life.
Mr. Evan Roberts's Departure
In the presence of a large gathering of friends Mr. Evan Roberts, Miss May Roberts, his sister, and Miss Annie Davies, left Liverpool on Tuesday, April 18th, afternoon for Capel Curig, a mountainous retreat in North Wales, accompanied by Rev. John Williams.
A first class compartment had been reserved for them in the North Wales train, ex-Lime Street, at 1.40 p.m. Mr. Evan Roberts looked in the best of health, and was in excellent spirits.
He smilingly shook hands all round as he wished all the party good-bye and Tarignefedd" (Heavenly peace).
In conversation Mr. Roberts told me he looked forward with delight to his period of rest among the Welsh mountains. He felt strong, he added, but his nerves were a bit unstrung.
Many requests were made by those on the platform that Mr. Evan Roberts should soon return to Liverpool, but the revivalist replied that he could make no promises.
"We don't know how to get on without you over here" said one of the committee men.
"Don't you?" was the response. "Will the Master not be still among you?"
A Critic's Submission. - Rev. H. M. Roberts's Treatment.
On Tuesday morning Mr. Evan Roberts, previous to his departure from Liverpool, received the following telegram from the Rev. H. M. Roberts, Rhydlydan, who on Friday night adversely criticised the revivalist at the Chatham Street Chapel: - "There is no one that believes more in your sincerity by this time than I. My heart will eternally thank God for your struggle on my behalf. - H. M. Roberts, Rhydlydan."
It appears that late on Saturday the Rev, gentleman reached Denbigh on his way to a preaching appointment the next day. Calling at a refreshment house in the town, and becoming known to the proprietress he was refused food or lodgings. He was also interviewed by some religious leaders in the town and severely criticised. He ultimately found lodgings in another refreshment house, and there stayed the night. On Sunday morning he was driven to the small place of worship where he officiated, but while there a message reached him from Tanyfron Chapel in the same parish stating that his services in the afternoon at that place would not be required, although previously arranged for.
On Monday he arrived at Denbigh in a very distressed state. He was seen by one or more ministers, who found him in a very dejected state of mind.
A correspondent of "Y Seren" (Bala) wrote to the Rev. H. M. Roberts, asking for an explanation of the penitent telegram he sent to Mr. Evan Roberts on Monday night, and received from him the following reply: - "I thank you for asking me for a letter to explain the telegram which appeared in the English papers of Friday. At the meeting I was pained beyond expression by the fact that Evan Roberts preserved silence. By this time I understand God's message to me through that silence. It told me, 'Be thou also silent until thou art much holier than thou art now.' And I declare, 'As Thou will, Lord, let me be, only let me spend every moment to Thy glory.' "I shall henceforth not attempt to preach until I am moved from Heaven to do so. The first impulses to become a preacher came from earth. I am willing to do anything in silence - not for myself, not for any denomination, not for men, but for God. God forgive me for all my sins against Him - my pride and my despicable vanity. A spiritual blindness is terrible. It is terrible to be compelled to stand up and see one's self, body and soul, and see the two as God - and men to some extent - see them. I fear that I have but a short time yet to remain in the body. I shall come out as much as possible and seek those as to whom I have cherished unworthy thoughts. I fear I shall not live to make straight all things with everybody. I beseech you all to forgive me. I dread meeting you all in the world to come if you have not forgiven me. "I had thought Evan Roberts guilty of cherishing malice towards the Rev. W. O. Jones; now I see that he loves W. O. Jones, and whatever he may have meant when he said that the Free Church is not on the Rock, I know, for God has revealed it to me, that there is no malice in the heart of Evan Roberts towards W. O. Jones. May the God of Heaven give another message to Evan Roberts in Liverpool. This is the nearest man to Jesus, and resembles Him more than anybody else does."