The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales
John Morgan Jones & William Morgan, trans. by John Aaron
Banner of Truth Trust; 2 vols. 738/782 pages; £40.00
These two volumes are a veritable treasure chest. They chart 130 years of the Methodist awakening in Wales and its aftermath, and provide a thrilling record of the work of God in the Principality from 1736 onwards. The books are an English translation from the Welsh of the mammoth labours of John Morgan Jones assisted by William Morgan.
Jones, minister of Pembroke Terrace, Cardiff, was active in the Forward Movement – the evangelistic enterprise which sprang from the revival. Concerned that the early history of the Calvinistic Methodist denomination might be lost, he set about compiling these accounts from earlier records. The result is a wide-ranging and inspiring story of a remarkable period of gospel progress which is now available to English readers in this translation by John Aaron.
Some of the names whose labours are recorded are familiar to us – Thomas Charles, Daniel Rowlands, Howell Harris, etc. – but the majority are men whose exploits under God would be lost to us for ever were it not for the authors’ intensive researches. To enable us to distinguish between the Morgans, Evans, and Jones etc., a helpful timeline is provided by the translator.
It is impossible in this review to do more than hint at the dramatic evidence of the Holy Spirit at work through these Methodist Fathers. These are books to take down from your shelves, open at almost any page and be thrilled and encouraged.
Against the background of a rapidly deteriorating established church (largely in the hands of non-Welsh speaking ministers) and a nonconformity that was moving steadily in the direction of Arianism and Unitarianism, the Methodist revival came as a life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit. The powerful ministries of Rowlands and Harris were the initial impetus, and in their wake came a host of mighty preachers who come to life in these pages.
For those who wish to explore the history of the awakening in Wales these books are surely a most valuable resource. For those who labour faithfully in a day of small things but seek to find real encouragement to press on, the stories of God’s mighty power that fill these volumes will provide abundant motivation.