The Revival: Its Power and Source, by G. Campbell Morgan
It was my holy privilege to come into the center of this wonderful work and movement. Arriving in the morning in the village, everything seemed quiet, and we wended our way to the place where a group of chapels stood. Oh, these chapels through Wales! Thank God for them! Everything was so quiet and orderly that we had to ask where the meeting was. A lad, pointing to a chapel, said, “In there.” Not a single person outside. We made our way through the open door, and just managed to get inside, and found the chapel crowded from floor to ceiling with a great mass of people.
The Three Characteristics Of The Meetings
It was a meeting characterized by a perpetual series of interruptions and disorderliness. It was a meeting characterized by a great continuity and an absolute order. You say, “How do you reconcile these things?” I do not reconcile them. They are both there. If you put a man into the midst of one of these meetings who knows nothing of the language of the Spirit, and nothing of the life of the Spirit, one of two things will happen to him. He will either pass out saying, “These men are drunk,” or he himself will be swept up by the fire into the kingdom of God. If you put a man down who knows the language of the Spirit, he will be struck by this most peculiar thing. I have never seen anything like it in my life; while a man praying is disturbed by the breaking out of song, there is no sense of disorder, and the prayer merges into song, and back into testimony, and back again into song for hour after hour, without guidance. These are the three occupations—singing, prayer, testimony.
In the afternoon we were at another chapel, and another meeting, equally full, and this time Evan Roberts was present. He came into the meeting when it had been on for an hour and a half. He spoke, but his address—if it could be called an address—was punctuated perpetually by song and prayer and testimony. Evan Roberts works on that plan, never hindering any one. I venture to say that if that address Evan Roberts gave in broken fragments had been reported, the whole of it could have been read in six or seven minutes. As the meeting went on, a man rose in the gallery and said, “So and So,” naming some man, “has decided for Christ,” and then in a moment the song began. They did not sing Songs of Praises, they sang Diolch Iddo, and the weirdness and beauty of it swept over the audience. It was a song of praise because that man was born again. There are no inquiry rooms, no penitent forms, but some worker announces, or an inquirer openly confesses Christ, the name is registered and the song breaks out, and they go back to testimony and prayer.
In the evening I stood for three solid hours wedged so that I could not lift my hands at all. That which impressed me most was the congregation. I stood wedged, and I looked along the gallery of the chapel on my right, and there were three women, and the rest were men packed solidly in. If you could but for once have seen the men, evidently colliers, with the blue seam that told of their work on their faces, clean and beautiful. Beautiful, did I say? Many of them lit with heaven’s own light, radiant with the light that never was on sea and land. Great rough, magnificent, poetic men by nature, but the nature had slumbered long. To-day it is awakened, and I looked on many a face, and I knew that men did not see me, did not see Evan Roberts, but they saw the face of God and the eternities. I left that evening, after having been in the meeting three hours, at 10:30, and it swept on, packed as it was, until an early hour next morning, song and prayer and testimony and conversion and confession of sin by leading church-members publicly, and the putting of it away, and all the while no human leader, no one indicating the next thing to do, no one checking the spontaneous movement.
The Man Himself
Evan Roberts is hardly more than a boy, simple and natural, no orator; with nothing of the masterfulness that characterized such men as Wesley and Whitefield and Dwight Lyman Moody; no leader of men. One of the most brilliant writers in one of our papers said of Evan Roberts, in a tone of sorrow, that he lacked the qualities of leadership, and the writer said if but some prophet did now arise he could sweep everything before him. God has not chosen that a prophet shall arise. It is quite true. Evan Roberts is no orator, no leader. What is he? I mean now with regard to this great movement. He is the mouthpiece of the fact that there is no human guidance as to man or organization. The burden of what he says to the people is this: It is not man; do not wait for me; depend on God; obey the Spirit. But whenever moved to do so, he speaks under the guidance of the Spirit. His work is not that of appealing to men so much as that of creating an atmosphere by calling men to follow the guidance of the Spirit in whatever the Spirit shall say to them.
God has set his hand upon the lad, beautiful in simplicity, ordained in his devotion, lacking all the qualities that we have looked for in preachers and prophets and leaders. He has put him in the forefront of this movement that the world may see that he does choose the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are, the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; a man who lacks all the essential qualities which we say make for greatness, in order that through him in simplicity and power he may move to victory.
Peculiarities Of The Movement
There is no preaching, no order, no hymn books, no choirs, no organs, no collections and, finally, no advertising. I am not saying these things are wrong. I simply want you to see what God is doing. There were the organs, but silent; the ministers, but among the rest of the people, rejoicing and prophesying with the rest, only there was no preaching. Everybody is preaching. No order, and yet it moves from day to day, week to week, county to county, with matchless precision, with the order of an attacking force. Mr. Stead was asked if he thought the revival would spread to London, and he said, “It depends upon whether you can sing.” He was not so wide of the mark. When these Welshmen sing, they sing the words like men who believe them. They abandon themselves to their singing. We sing as though we thought it would not be respectable to be heard by the man next to us. No choir, did I say? It was all choir. And hymns! I stood and listened in wonder and amazement as that congregation on that night sang hymn after hymn, long hymns, sung through without hymn-books.
The Sunday-school is having its harvest now. The family altar is having its harvest now. The teaching of hymns and the Bible among those Welsh hills and valleys is having its harvest now. No advertising. The whole thing advertises itself. You tell me the press is advertising it. They did not begin advertising until the thing caught fire and spread. One of the most remarkable things is the attitude of the Welsh press. I come across instance after instance of men converted by reading the story of the revival in The Western Mail and The South Wales Daily News.
The Origin Of The Movement
In the name of God let us all cease trying to find it. At least let us cease trying to trace it to any one man or convention. You cannot trace it, and yet I will trace it tonight. Whence has it come? All over Wales—I am giving you roughly the result of the questioning of fifty or more persons at random in the week—a praying remnant have been agonizing before God about the state of the beloved land, and it is through that the answer of fire has come. You tell me that the revival originates with Roberts. I tell you that Roberts is a product of the revival. You tell me that it began in an Endeavor meeting where a dear girl bore testimony. I tell you that was part of the result of a revival breaking out everywhere. If you and I could stand above Wales, looking at it, you would see fire breaking out here and there, and yonder, and somewhere else, without any collusion or prearrangement. It is a divine visitation in which God—let me say this reverently—in which God is saying to us: See what I can do without the things you are depending on; see what I can do in answer to a praying people; see what I can do through the simplest who are ready to fall in line and depend wholly and absolutely upon me.
A Church Revival
What is the character of this revival? It is a church revival. I do not mean by that merely a revival among church members. It is that, but it is held in church buildings. I have been saying for a long time that the revival which is to be permanent in the life of a nation must be associated with the life of the churches. What I am looking for is that there shall come a revival breaking out in all our regular church life. The meetings are held in the chapels, all up and down the valleys, and it began among church-members, and when it touches the outside man it makes him into a church-member at once. I am tremendously suspicious of any mission or revival movement that treats with contempt the Church of Christ, and affects to despise the churches. Within five weeks, twenty thousand have joined the churches. I think more than that have been converted, but the churches in Wales have enrolled during the last five weeks twenty thousand new members. It is a movement in the Church and of the Church, a movement in which the true functions and forces of the Church are being exercised and filled.
Striking Cases Of Personal Influence
What effect is this work producing upon men? First of all, it is turning Christians everywhere into evangelists. There is nothing more remarkable about it than that, I think. People you never expected to see doing this kind of thing are becoming definite personal workers. A friend of mine went to one of the meetings, and he walked down to the meeting with an old friend of his, a deacon of the Congregational church, a man whose piety no one doubted, a man who for long years had worked in the life of the church in some of its departments, but a man who never would think of speaking to men about their souls, although he would not have objected to some one else doing it. As my friend walked down with the deacon, the deacon said to him: “I have eighteen young men in an athletic class of which I am president. I hope some of them will be in the meeting tonight.” There was a new manifestation. This man had had that athletic class for years, and he had never hoped that any one of them would be in any meeting to be saved. Within fifteen minutes he left his seat by my friend and was seen talking to a young man down in front of him. Presently this deacon rose and said, “Thank God for So and So,” giving his name; “he has given his heart to Christ right here.” In a moment or two he left him, and was with another young man. Before that meeting closed that deacon had led every one of those eighteen young men to Jesus Christ, who never before thought of speaking to men about their souls.
My own friend, with whom I stayed, who has always been reticent of speaking to men, told me how, sitting in his office, there surged upon him the great conviction that he ought to go and speak to another man with whom he had done business for long years. My friend suddenly put down his pen and left his office and went on ‘Change, and there he saw the very man; and going up to him, passing the time of day to him, the man said to him, “What do you think of this revival?” And my friend looked him squarely in the eye and said, “How is it with your own soul?” The man looked back at him and said, “Last night at twelve, for some unknown reason, I had to get out of bed and give myself to Jesus Christ, and I was hungering for some one to come and talk to me.” Here is a man turned into an evangelist by supernatural means. If this is emotional, then God send us more of it! Here is a cool, calculating, business ship owner, that I have known all my life, leaving his office to go on ‘Change and ask a man about his soul.
Down in one of the mines a collier was walking along, and he came, to his great surprise, to where one of the principal officials in the mine was standing. The official said, “Jim, I have been waiting two hours here for you.” “Have you, sir?” said Jim. “What do you want?” “I want to be saved, Jim.” The man said, “Let us get right down here”; and there in the mine the colliery official, instructed by the collier, passed into the kingdom of God. When he got up he said, “Tell all the men, tell everybody you meet, I am converted.”
The movement is characterized by the most remarkable confession of sin—confessions that must be costly. I heard some of them, men rising who have been members of the church and officers of the church, confessing hidden sin in their heart, impurity committed and condoned, and seeking prayer for its putting away. The whole movement is marvelously characterized by a confession of Jesus Christ, testimony to his power, to his goodness, to his beneficence, and testimony merging forevermore into outbursts of singing.
This whole thing is of God; it is a visitation in which he is making men conscious of Himself, without any human agency. The revival is far more wide-spread than the fire zone. In this sense you may understand that the fire zone is where the meetings are actually held, and where you feel the flame that burns. But even when you come out of it, and go into railway trains, or into a shop, a bank, anywhere, men everywhere are talking of God. Whether they obey or not is another matter. There are thousands not yielded to the constraint of God, but God has given Wales in these days a new conviction and consciousness of himself. That is the profound thing, the underlying truth.
Much can be gained from studying the move of God throughout history. I would be unwise to attempt to mimic the exploits of these men and women of God from old, but there are reasons why God used them, and we would do well to put ourselves in the same position. Evan Roberts was only used because he travailed in prayer day in and day out for years in expectation for what God would do. Are we so committed? Because until we are willing to suffer with Christ like Evan Roberts suffered with Christ, we will never see the glory of God like Evan Roberts saw the glory of God.