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

By David CERI Jones | Go to book overview

SETTLING TIMES: PUTTING THE ‘LIVING STONES’
TOGETHER

By the end of 1741 both Howel Harris and George Whitefield had realized that the controversies of the previous months had left their converts demoralized. What was now important was not the maintenance of evangelistic zeal or more debate over detailed theological points but concentration on the development of a system of pastoral supervision for those individuals who had come under their care. Consequently, in September 1742, Whitefield informed Harris that ‘As the awakening seems in some measure to be over, and there are so many living stones it may be time to think of putting them together – May the great builder of His church guide and direct us.’1 Whitefield’s suggestion was testimony to the remarkable closeness that had developed between the Welsh and English Calvinistic revivals since January 1739. The Welsh revivalists had, of course, sided with Whitefield in the dispute with the Wesley brothers, and in its immediate aftermath it seemed entirely natural that the two revivals, which in any case had developed along very similar lines, should seek to formalize that relationship, binding themselves still closer to one another.

Discussions about the development of the organizational structure of the Welsh revival have tended to focus on the achievements of the Association, attended by all the main leaders of the Welsh revival and three of the most prominent leaders of the English Calvinistic revival, that took place at Watford, near Caerphilly, at the beginning of January 1743. This has led some historians2 to exaggerate its significance and to overlook some of the longer-term processes by which the pioneer Welsh Methodists adopted a quasi-presbyterian organizational structure. As is

1 ‘The conclusion of the Letter begun in our last’, WH, 80 (Saturday, 16 October 1742).

2 Griffith T. Roberts for example talked about ‘y Sasiwn enwog honno’ (‘that famous Association’) in his ‘Y Mudiad Cymreig a Diwygwyr Lloegr’, in Gomer M. Roberts (ed.), Hanes Methodistiaeth Galfinaidd Cymru, Cyfrol I: Y Deffroad Mawr (Caernarfon, 1973), p. 307.

-191-

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