Monday, September 17, 2007

The Free Church of the Welsh: Eight

The movement of the Spirit in 1904-5 affected Liverpool, as it did other places where there was a large Welsh Community. While it is truly said that there is in Christ 'neither Jew nor Greek, Scythian nor barbarian,' it is a strange fact that, when the Spirit begins to move in a country, often people from that country become strangely receptive to the Gospel of God. In late March 1905, Evan Roberts arrived in Liverpool to conduct a mission there. Feelings were still strained by the events of 1901, and at a meeting led byEvan Roberts in Great Mersey Street Congregational Church, the ministers came together for the meeting. W. O. Jones prayed for their hearts to be joined in love: "Thou knowest the whole affair that has occured in this city [...] strengthen me and forgive all they and I have done, and all I thought they had done against me. Thou knowest I have tried to do so, God, and O, help them to forgive me all that was out of place, and all that they thought was out of place [....] Melt our hearts; help us to unite in heart, to work together for the sake of our Saviour. Kindle our desires to save the world and to give all the glory to thee. O Lord, visit this city more mightily than thou ever hast already done."

Evan Roberts continued to state that there was something preventing the Spirit from moving. The serive ended in some disappointment. Subsequent events, taking place at a meeting in the Princes Avenue Wesleyan church. In the midst of the meeting, Roberts experienced convulsions, again speaking of 'obstruction.' From here, I shall allow the Western Mail to take up the story:

'The obstacle,' he said later on, 'is the same as last night. I must give the message. You may believe it or not. You may do as you like, friends.' He broke down again [....] At length, as though bracing himself to a great effort, he said: 'God has committed this message to me many days ago, but only tonight is it to be disclosed. The message relates to the Free Church of the Welsh. This is the message. Do as you like with it. It comes directly from God:- "The foundations of the Church are not on the Rock. (Sensation.) The foundations of the Church are not on the Rock." (A Voice: 'O God, remove the obstacle!')

W. O. Jones led objections to these words, stating: 'that he attached no importance to the statement or to Evan Roberts' alleged Divine message, and that it would have no adverse effect on the young denomination.' G. C. Rees, a prominent layman in the Free Church of the Welsh stated that he felt Evan Roberts' denunciations to be hysterical, and denied that they would have any negative effect on the Free Church of the Welsh.

But was the church 'built on the rock'?



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