Thursday, March 29, 2007

John Pugh XXII: 'Love Vast as the Ocean'

While Revival is often seen as a spontaneous outpouring of the Spirit of God, we have already seen that an extensive preparatory work took place in South Wales prior to 1904, the year in which Evan Roberts was baptised by the Spirit after a prayer-meeting in Blaenannerch at which Seth Joshua prayed. However, with 1904 would come the full tide. The halls built in faith would fill, and one would truly come to birth.

Pugh, however, took little part in these events. The strain of acting as the great bulwark of the Forward Movement had begun to tell on him. Although he had left aside the ministry at Clifton Street in order to concentrate full time on his duties as Superintentent of the Forward Movement, his great frame was beginning to wear out. It was Seth, his faithful lieutenant who crossed Wales during those amazing years, preaching 'Christ and Him Crucified.' His letters to Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis reveal that it was at this time Joshua was baptised by the Spirit, on the spot where Glamorgan County Cricket Ground now stands.

December 1904 saw the full tide of Revival reach Cardiff. After one service in Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Church, in the town centre, the chapel emptied, as the Spiritdescended, the congregation spilling out into the open-air, sining ang praying. Men exhorted passers by, in Pentecostal scenes. At Pembroke Terrace church, Seth Joshua experienced a spirit of opposition, while men at a meeting in Salem Chapel, Canton were openly hostile. Even so, people were converted.

Pugh saw in the power of the revival a corrective to the dry, often academic spirit which had begun to blight the colleges. Modernism was already spreading within the colleges. Still, Pugh was concerned that the merely emotional aspects of the revival had resulted in false conversions, and that many of those who had professed faith after such strong emotional experiences might go back into the world, worse even then they had come out.

By late 1905, the tide was ebbing, although there were still glimmers of blessing. The anniversary service of Memorial Hall felt a touch of the Spirit.

The Forward Movement Halls shared in the general blessing. At Heath Hall, only four years old, the Forward movement Torch reported: 'Our Heath Centre is all alive with revival fire, and the hall has become too small ... to receive the people who are anxious to hear the word of life.' In the wake of the revival a new church building, capable of holding up to 850 people was erected (interior pictured). John Pugh was present for the laying of the foundation stones on 4 April 1906. He had recently returned from a trip abroad, taken on account of his health.

Within a year, he was with the Lord.



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