This is a little gem. Don’t be put off by the title’s ‘in Wales’; the principles and lessons drawn here are of universal interest and significance.
After a valuable introduction to Emyr Roberts’s life and ministry, by the late R. Geraint Gruffydd, the first chapter examines the nature and importance of revival.
For the author, revival is ‘the Spirit of God coming in power … How utterly different from the build-up of personalities, and the accompanying lights and music which we often associate with modern evangelism’ (pp.32-34). Here is a challenge to all those evangelicals to whom the concept of revival is alien to their way of thinking.
This is followed by two chapters — ‘Methodism and the evangelical spirit’ and ‘The early Methodist societies’ — which are searching in their application of the Methodists’ twin emphases on spiritual experience and theological orthodoxy.
These key elements of biblical Christianity, together with their practical outworking in godly conduct, receive further attention in a chapter on William Williams, Pantycelyn.
This chapter is, perhaps, the best short introduction to the renowned hymn-writer, whose central theme is presented as ‘the utter need of man and the all-sufficiency of Christ’ (p.111). The author shows that ‘the hymns were doctrinal and pastoral in intent’, and adds that ‘Williams would be the last man to support the idea of singing in order to win people for Christ’ (p.111).
The last two chapters introduce us to two significant preachers. That on Robert Roberts, Clynnog, emphasises the vital need of the unction of the Holy Spirit in preaching. The other, on John Jones, Tal-y-sarn, provides perceptive analysis of his role in changing the doctrinal emphasis of the Calvinistic Methodists, and helpful observations on the way in which theological controversies should be conducted.
Another book about the past? Yes. But there is much more here. It is a warm-hearted and heart-warming presentation of the essence of true Christianity. These lessons drawn from the eye-opening ‘great works of God’ in days gone by are urgently relevant today. Here is a book to enlighten, challenge and encourage every Christian reader.