Section navigation

The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales – A Review by J R Broome

Author
Category Book Reviews
Date June 29, 2010

These two volumes1 were originally published separately in 1895 and 1897 in Welsh, under the title Y Tadau Methodistaidd (The Methodist Fathers). They are now translated for the first time by John Aaron, a school teacher living in South Wales. This must have been a mammoth task but the final result bears no signs of being a translation. They are beautifully produced and are comparable to the Banner’s two volume 1979 edition of Cotton Mather’s Magnolia Christi Americana (The Great Works of Christ in America).

The author, John Morgan Jones (1838-1921), was a minister of the Calvinistic Methodists in Wales for over fifty years. Realising that much of the history of the great Evangelical Awakening in Wales in the eighteenth century would be lost if not gathered together, with the help of his friend William Morgan J.P., he set about researching original manuscripts, many of which were lying untouched in the Trefecca College near Talgarth to the west of the Black Mountains. Between them they read such documents as the diaries of Howell Harris, which had never been fully examined before. There was an immense amount of material to be researched, but out of their labours in 1895 and 1897 came these two volumes (in Welsh). They had planned a third volume but lacked the finance to complete the work. Until two years ago they were inaccessible to most readers. Now translated into English they are accessible to a far wider readership. They are a piece of excellent historical research based on original sources.

The Lord’s work in Wales in the eighteenth century changed the whole character of their society, as it did in England. These two volumes contain full accounts, not only of the work of well-known leaders of the revival such as Daniel Rowlands, Howell Harris, William Williams, John Elias, and Thomas Charles of Bala, but also of many lesser known, though no less important figures such as Griffith Jones; a lone figure preaching powerfully prior to the Revival; and later greatly used ministers such as Robert Roberts. The first volume comprises extensive accounts of the ministry of Howell Harris, Daniel Rowlands and William Williams, and lesser-known men such as Griffith Jones and Peter Williams, and the second volume describes the larger group of lesser-known ministers (about twelve in all),together with Charles of Bala and John Elias.

History is a valuable subject in any society, never more so than when it comes to spiritual matters. The Bible in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, the Gospels and the Acts is full of accounts of the Lord’s work in the past. These two volumes contain a small part of the Lord’s work in the United Kingdom since the Reformation. They dovetail with such works as Arnold Dallimore’s two volume biography of George Whitefield.2 We recommend them to those who love reading, especially reading of the great works of the Lord in revival in a bygone age. It gives us hope for the future, that he is able to do the same again.

Notes

  1. George Whitefield: The life and times of the great evangelist of the 18th century revivalVolume 1 and Volume 2.

Taken with the permission of its editor – jrbroome@talktalk.net – from Perception, Summer 2010.