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Remarkable Religious Revival.


("Otago Times" Own Correspondent.) London, April 28 Hitherto I have refrained from saying much about the religious revival which has been oeeuring m Wales. So much has been said and written of it that; is sensational that I preferred to await results™" By their fruits ye shall know them." Opinions of those who ventured outside the judicial frame of miud were as divergent as the poles. CortaiD medioal men accounted for whafc was going on by saying that it; ws.s a wave of hystsria which would end 'm filling the madhouses. On the other hand, m. the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, I beard one of the most noted Nonconformist divines of the metropolis claim for the revival that it was the latest phase of revelation and ha was by no mean 3 a man of an hysterical type. Cold science had do belief m the revival. Religious men viewed it wifch awe not unmixed with alarm, for the form which this revival took frightened cold English people. Clergymen of all denominations from the Roman Catholic and the Anglican to every sect of Nonconformity went to Wales to study it, and cam© back amazed—and many of them determined that precisely similar things should not eeeur m their churches if they could prevent it. For m the Welsh revival it was apparent that the clergy had little place. The leader, a young man named Evan Eoberts, fresh from coalpit, had no pretence to education or culture. At his meetings he would as often as not refuse to speak, and would sit with bowed head for hours at a time. From other meetings he was expected to attend he kept away altogether. Yet the conversions have been going on until more than 100,000 people have been :added to the churches. Not only Nonconformist Churches have been strengthened to this extent; the Roman Catholics and Anglicans, though neither denomination took part m the revival, have felt its effect, so that m the the Anglican Churches m South Wales the communicants on last Easter Sunday morning were about double the number they ha«l ever been before. These are facts within my own knowledge. The movement had been so general m Wales that Mr W. T. Stead, m a conversation which I had with him after a visit to South Wales, said he "did not know whafc the Dickens the Devil was doing there," the said gentleman m black having kept bo quiet. The time of' the harvest has now come, and I purpose setting down some facts that have come within my own cognisance. As to whether the movement m whole or m part is spiritual or merely emotional, I have nothing to say. There is a saying m the colonies that " money talks." Now, not the least rem ark able result of this revival is the way m which people are paying their debts, even though they be statute barred—that is to say, though the Statute of Limitations has wipsd out the debt from a legal point of view, creditors are receiving on every band cheques for debts, with compound interest; to date, which they had " written off" long years ago. Seven or eight years since there was a great strike among the colliers of South Wales. There was prolonged stoppage of work, and as a consequence large numbers of small tradesmen failed. They could not get their debts m from the colliers, therefore they could not pay. But the colliers have everywhere paid up to the trader now, and the latter, instead of taking advantage of the Bankruptcy Act, has paid up to the wholesale man, though there was no law to compel him to do so. Let me give an instance: A friend, whose word can be absolutely taken, is the secretary of a large industrial company supplying small traders. They suffered severely both during and after the strike, and hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds were written off as bad debts. He told ma that soon after the revival started, his company began to receive cheques for these bad debts. They began .to believe m the revival to such an extent that they opened fresh accounts with the bad debts,. and they have been practically all wiped off by this time, those remaining being owed by debtors who by death have been released from all debt. This week a Singapore firm announced that every bad debt which they had made ia South Wales—and they had several—had been squxred up. That firm says it believes m a revival that has such practical results. j Ihen, take another phase. Glamorganshire, which is the most thickly populated county m Wales, was also the most drunken m the whole of Great Britain and Ireland. One could see any Saturday night m Cardiff, its principal town, more drunken peo» pie than would be seen m the streets o£ London m seven years. One brewery m a country district close by paid a- dividend of 100 per cent for years. On the colliers' pay days the innkeepers had not time to put their takings into the tills m the ordinary way ; they chucked the money into buckets which stood behind the bar. I have been into a licensed house m South. Wales where every innkeeper who kept th.Bt house expected' to retire m three years—and usually did. To-day " Black Glamorgan "is transformed ; the takings for intoxicants have fallen not by 10 per cent., but to 10 per cent of what they were a year ago. Immorality and inducements to it were flaunting and rampant to a shocking degree. " You would not know the streets now," remarked a man from Sonth Wales to me a.few days ago;" everything is changed, and for the better." And that man had s no more religion m his nature than has a bedpost. So much for general results. How does this revival affect people ? I will give an instance or two from my own circle. An old friend, a journalist, was one of the most level-headed men I have ever known. We was always a steady man, went to ohapel every Sunday, and m 25 years not one of his colleagues had ever seen him ruffled or flurried or fail m his work. When tko revival first broke out he was despatched to the place where Evan Roberts was, for the purpose of seeing " if there is anything m it." He returned at night, and reported himself to his editor. "Anything mit ?" he was asked. " Yes "came the reply m an even quieter voice than j usual* " there is a lot m it." " How much are you going to give of it, then ? Make as much of it as you can, and we'll boom it," said the editor (another old friend of mine). " I cannot to-night; it is impossible," was the reply. " I've been converted." The editor leapt from his chair as if he had been shot. Here was the lastman anyone ever supposed would give way to emotion, and he had got converted. But the journalist was immovable. He could write nothing that night; but he would gladly do a couple of columns ! "|special " the next day. The editor had to be satisfied. The two columns duly appeared. Mark the sequel. A rival paper sent down its representative, and the identical result followed here. These instances oould be multiplied by the hundred, but I have given them beoause they come within my personal knowledge. Testimony to the chauge is born by judges, clergymen, and everyone concerned m the betterment of society. The Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed a letter to the bishops of his province, m which, while inviting them to make Whit Sunday a day of united prayer, he calls attention to the revival m Wales and m London. The Primate reminds his diocesans of the agreement at convocation that at Whitsuntide the people should be invited to " unite m special prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit among us, and for the strengthening of our hold as Christiana upon the deeper realities of our faith." He goes on to say: "To whatever cause or combination of causes we may attribute it, the fact appears to be certain that expression has this year been given m an unusual degree to a desire for increased spiritual earnestness m the Christian life. In the Welsh counties the desire has found utterance m a remarkable manner. In London special evangelistic efforts of different kinds havo been eagerly welcomed; nor is there, I thip.i-, ;iny doubt as to the blessing which has attended them. Evidence not dissimilar Is forthcoming from other parts of England, and the time is obviously appropriate for deliberate and sustained prayer to God, who willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge cf the truth. It is," then, m every sense natural and right that, m such circumstances, our thankful recognition of the impulse whioh is affecting the minds of men would, at the approaching Whitsuntide, fashion itself quietly and hopefully into an act of united prayer that Gou, the Holy Spirit, may indeed make the five of loyal devotion glow m us with a fresh intensity, and that we may have withal such a ' right judgment' m the things of the Spirit as shall lead us to rejoice m His holy comfort, the comforfc which springs from the assurance of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, and what he enables us to do, m great things and small, for the advancement of His kingdom upon earth," It will be observed that all these observations deal with the question m its purely

practioal aspect as regards the tangible results that have accrued. Sdo not touch here on either the eccentricities of Evan Roberts or upon the alleged supernatural "manifestations." These do not;appeal to me. The facts above quoted do. 6 119

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Bibliographic details

Remarkable Religious Revival., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6592, 10 June 1905

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Remarkable Religious Revival. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6592, 10 June 1905

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