'A Glorious Work in the World': Welsh Methodism and the International Evangelical Revival, 1735-1750

By David CERI Jones | Go to book overview

‘OUR DAYS ARE REFORMING DAYS’:
ESTABLISHING THE INTERNATIONAL REVIVAL

When, in November 1742, Howel Harris wrote to one of his coworkers in Wales ‘about the Progress of ye Gospel in Scotland, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Germany, Prussia, New England, Pennsylvania and many other provinces’,1 he did so against the backdrop of almost four years of continuous interaction between his own Welsh revival and many of the evangelical communities included in his brief overview. Interpreting the Welsh Methodist revival as merely one element in what has been called a ‘pan-Protestant phenomenon’2 is deeply rooted in the daily experience of many of the first generation of evangelical converts. Soon after learning of one another’s existence the pioneer revivalists sought to form meaningful friendships with each other and, on the basis of these relationships, began to share their experiences and their ideas about the propagation of their work.

It was Howel Harris who made the first tentative contacts with his fellow revivalists, and throughout the whole of his time at the head of the Welsh revival he consistently kept his followers in the minds of their fellow evangelicals and relentlessly publicized his revival among those evangelicals with whom he came into regular contact. He was able to do this because of the close relationship that existed between himself and the leader of the English revival in the late 1730s, George Whitefield. Whitefield was the pivot around which the majority of Welsh participation revolved. It was Harris who ensured that Whitefield was kept regularly up to date with the progress of the revival in Wales, that news from the other revivals regularly reached the Welsh Methodists and that the events occupying the minds of the revivalists filtered down to the level of the humblest convert in Wales. In the later 1740s especially, he became an indispensable

1 Trevecka 2803, Howel Harris to Herbert Jenkins (22 November 1742).

2 Walsh, ‘Methodism and the origins of English-speaking evangelicalism’, p. 44.

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