CONFLICTING views of the significance of the Welsh revival abound. The movement is novel in that it seems to be outside the labors of "ministers," carried on by men and women hitherto without reputation and still manifesting "little ability." Indeed, the meetings are described as "go-as-you-please," in many respects. We rejoice that it seems well established that better morals and much less drunkenness mark the region affected.
Lady Henry Somerset writes to friends respecting this spontaneous revival, contrasting it favorably with the less successful efforts being put forth in London by the ministers and others, in cooperation with Dr. Torrey and Mr. Alexander, "American Evangelists." The latter movement has had all kinds of advertising, and every assistance that $57,000 could command. An extract from Lady Somerset's letter follows:
"Dr. Torrey spoke simple, straightforward words without any great magnetic force, although you could not but feel the earnestness of the man and the strength of his belief, and yet his words to me were a disappointment. Ten thousand men and women were there, who, speaking generally, professed Christianity. They were gathering in a city where sadness and sin abound, where the indifferent crowd the pavements, and the hopeless fill our slums and mean streets. The revivalist took for his text, 'Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.' Joy, he said, was the characteristic of the Christian, joy overflowing filled his heart, illumined his features, welled out in his words. Does it? I thought, as I looked round the audience. Ought it to do so? was the question that rose in my heart.
"The cries of the oppressed in Russia are ringing in our ears, the cruel grasp of poverty holds our people in the iron grip of hunger, the steps of the man who is seeking work in vain beat upon our streets, the sin which mars, blights and destroys is stalking abroad at this very hour, the drink poison is inflaming men's brains and cursing their lives. Can our attitude as Christians be one of joy?
"Ought we not rather to weep with Christ over sorrowful, wayward Humanity, and humbly face the dread responsibility which rests upon us? Calm, self-satisfied we all sat there, and never a word did the revivalist say to those listening thousands to arouse them to the fact that the state of London, nay of the world, lies at the door of the lethargic church itself. We sang songs over and over again about heaven, about joining our loved ones yonder.
"A young man with a beautiful voice in the top gallery sang a solo about "Telling Mother I'll Be There," but to me the note of a real revival was missing, which should sound the call to be about the business of our Master, to be in dead earnest that God's will be done on earth, and to understand that it is the business of His Church to get it done. And as I went away after the meeting, to the slums of the East End, I felt more strongly than ever that to define our understanding of what heaven will be is an impossibility. One thing we know, however—that it must mean an eternal harmony between our will and God's, and that our present peace lies in doing His will now.
"But it is still more difficult to understand how joy can be the keynote of our Christianity if the revivalists really believe that for some an eternity of torment awaits them, without even the escape through the purifying fire which the tenderer spirit of the medieval church granted as a recognition of the mercy of God; for them it surely seems to me joy is impossible. "It is as though one individual, with a cry of exultation and a shout of Alleluia, found the fire escape, while the rest of the household perished in the flames. But the impression produced on my mind may have been possibly heightened by the contrast presented by the wonderfully vivid realization of the simple work of the Spirit which has been blowing like the divine breath through the valleys of South Wales.
"There organization has been unknown, money has been unsought, newspaper puffs nonexistent; indeed, the revivalist has still to be found. True it is that the figure of Evan Roberts stands out strongly, and yet the revival is independent of him.
"There is no order of service, no set choir, only bursts of wonderful Welsh melody, no hymn books—the words are written in the hearts of the worshipers. The little whitewashed chapels resound with song, song exquisite in its harmony, solemn as death, and yet jubilant as a choir of angels. Then stillness, prayers, soft sobbing [R3540 : page 116] from broken hearts, confession, profession, all the wonderful gamut of the soul's experience, but all spontaneous, with no settled effect, only the greatest effect of all, the reality of human need and divine power.
"Everywhere as you move about you feel a great hush as though Christ walked over the mountains and into the mining towns and out through the valleys among the sons and daughters of toil, whose eyes have been opened to see Him as He came to them by the way."
This dear writer seems to be "ripe" for the message of Present Truth as are all the best hearts the world over. We trust that somehow she and all such will be reached within the next ten years. It is said to be remarkable, too, that the eternal torment idea is but seldom referred to in the Welsh movement.
The editor of Review of Reviews, Mr. Stead, has given considerable attention to the Welsh movement and predicts that the blaze there started will sweep over the world. He declares that he sees evidences of clairvoyance in connection with Mr. Evan Roberts, the leader of the revival. Mr. Stead is himself an avowed Spiritualist [R3541 : page 116] and ought to be good authority on the subject.
The "lights" which follow one of the women leaders of the revival, Mrs. Jones, we have referred to on the next page. A reader sends us the following, which purports to be an extract from a work, Luminous Phenomena, by no less a celebrity than
"Under the strictest test conditions, I have seen a solid self-luminous body, the size and nearly the shape of a turkey's egg, float noiselessly about the room, at one time higher than anyone present could reach standing on tiptoe, and then gently descend to the floor. It was visible for more than ten minutes, and before it faded away it struck the table three times with a sound like that of a hard solid body....I have seen luminous points of light darting about and settling on the heads of different persons; I have had questions answered by the flashing of a bright light a desired number of times in front of my face. I have seen sparks of light rising from the table to the ceiling, and again falling upon the table, striking it with an audible sound. I have had an alphabetic communication given by luminous flashes occurring before me in the air, whilst my hand was moving about amongst them. I have seen a luminous cloud floating upwards to a picture. Under the strictest test conditions I have more than once had a solid, self-luminous, crystalline body placed in my hand by a hand which did not belong to any person in the room. In the light I have seen a luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side table, break a sprig off, and carry the sprig to a lady; and on some occasions I have seen a similar luminous cloud visibly condense to the form of a hand and carry small objects about."
When we remember how Satanic influence operated toward the work of Paul and Silas (Acts 16:16-19) and when we remember, too, the repeated declarations of the Bible, that Satan is to have great power and signs and lying wonders in the end of this age, which, "if it were possible, would deceive the very elect," we are not yet sure that Spiritism (demonism) has not something to do with these signs. We are to expect that as a last resort to gain power, Satan will in effect cast out Satan—thereby to gain and hold a greater influence against the Truth. In the temptations to our Lord, Satan practically offered everything if he might but retain his power; and doubtless he would be no less willing now to do good, that evil might follow. Without judging until more fruits are ripe, and surely without opposing good moral results, let us beware lest we fall into any of Satan's traps, for we are not ignorant of his devices.
For a week Evan Roberts would not speak one word nor attend a meeting. The latest word is that on the eighth day he broke silence and said: "I have wrestled, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, but power has been given to me, and I have obtained the victory."
The newspapers tell of a remarkable revival in New York state, of one in New Jersey, which converted almost the entire population, closed the saloons, etc.; of another in Southern Illinois, where the principal minister seems to have been a professional base ball player, whose efforts for righteousness are turning many from sinful ways to sobriety and religion of a sort; and of a similar movement in a Dakota town, which has apparently awakened some to a changed course of life, "turning over a new leaf," etc.
Let us rejoice with those who rejoice! Let us be glad to note every evidence of reform in heart or conduct! But let us remember that conversion is the beginning and not the end of the Christian life. If these converts are now of "the household of faith," let us greet them as such and congratulate them and hope for their growth in grace and knowledge to the point where they will be ready for the next step,—full consecration.
The privilege and responsibility for the instruction of these lies at our door; for alas! most other Christians through lack of development are unable to assist these into right paths of faith and hope, not having found these for themselves,—being still bewildered by the fog and smoke of the "dark ages." Let us be as wise and kind and helpful as possible along these lines; and let us pray for the wisdom from above promised in our year-text.
Meantime let us stand fast in our uncompromising but kindly opposition to Churchianity, "Babylon," and our loyalty to the One Church of many members of which Christ is the Head. While repudiating sectarian systems as of the Adversary, let us fellowship as brethren all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to his service—no matter how imperfectly they discern [R3541 : page 117] the truth—hoping for the fuller opening of the eyes of their understanding soon.
"The South, in 1865, was the land of woe. No words have been coined to rightly represent its anguish. God in mercy gave them a divine solace. For years a revival continued. There was a million of accessions to our Church, unparalleled. But 'prosperity' spread to the cotton, cane and tobacco fields. We erected temples, hired men singers and women singers, set up sackbut, dulcimer, cornet, flute and harp, as never was seen or sought after by our fathers. We admired ourselves. And so likewise did our brethren of the "Twin Methodism," [Methodists of the North]. Such superb fanes, each with its baritone, alto, soprano and imported music master.
"There has been a dry-rot. The evolution is the 'boll weavil' of the pulpit. It has sapped the faith of the prophet. Commercialism raving in a delirium is the cut-worm of the piety of the pew. If ever this Republic had need of 'old-time religion,' it is in this era. The Trust is hatching the cockatrice eggs of Socialism. There are men living who saw 'Black Republicanism,' as then called, hooted. And presently that genius, a dwarf corked in a bottle, grew into a giant. He turned into the Demon of Civil War. Socialism yesterday cast but a handful of ballots. At last election it was a head taller than the 'Black Republicanism' of its early days. The contest, now on, is one of political economy. The Strike and the Trust are 'foot to foot, beard to beard,' at the ballot-box. And to-morrow, it will be the cartridge-box.
It should not surprise us that spirit-manifestations are on the increase. In Pittsburg recently a Miss Fay gave public exhibitions of her power to read questions in the pockets of her audience, others held tightly in their own hands, etc. Her answers to the questions were said to have been remarkable everyway. True, it was claimed by some that her work was fraudulent; but others as positively declared that stolen goods were recovered by her advice and matters explained as no human being could have done without supernatural aid.
A newspaper report tells of a school girl in the West who has just discovered that she possesses similar powers. She first found that she could "see the answers in her books" when they were closed, just as accurately as when they were open before her, etc.
From London come cablegrams telling of peculiar manifestations of "supernatural lights" in the vicinity of the Revival scenes, and are regarded as signs from heaven. These follow one of the women preachers and are seen near one of the chapels. We quote further:—
"Suddenly I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It had a steady, intense, yellow brilliance and did not move. Later two lights flashed out, one on each side of the chapel; they seemed about 100 feet apart and considerably higher in the air than the first one. In the distance they looked like large, brilliant motorcar lights. Just after 10:30 I was startled by a flash on the dark hillside. It looked like a solid ball of light, six inches in diameter, and was tiring to look at."
The public press reports that a tree on the farm of W. Albert, near Paducah, Ky., called the "talking tree" has attracted much attention lately—crowds going to see and hear it. Strange noises emanate from the tree, including a crash, as though it were being crushed, and then a voice can be distinctly heard, saying, "There are treasures buried at my roots." One journal says:—
"A party consisting of the most reliable citizens of the county visited the tree to make a thorough investigation for themselves as to the noises being heard. They listened patiently for several hours, when there was a sudden crash, which has been given many times before, and the marvelous reproduction of human voice came out.
"The mystery remains unsolved, and so great has the number of people been who have gone there in the last several months that the tree is now dead, caused by the continuous tramping on the earth surrounding the tree.
"The only theory that has been suggested is that a man was killed under the tree in 1862, and while many do not believe in "spirits," the facts are so plain and the voice can be so distinctly heard that they cannot dispute the fact."
Evidently the time is nearing when the Lord will permit this "strong delusion" to mislead many; and we may be sure that the fallen spirits will be ready to use whatever liberty is granted them. We may expect their manifestations to increase and to deceive many more, and be one of the important influences leading up to the persecution of the followers of the Truth, and ultimately to the great world-trouble. There have been so many applications for extra copies of our issue of January 15 that we have concluded to issue its article on Spiritism in tract form at once. Order samples for your friends as you can use them to advantage.
Professor Hyslop and others recently held a meeting in New York City to take steps to found a Research institute. It was decided that it would require one hundred thousand dollars to found it properly, and fifty thousand dollars a year to maintain it. Speaking on the subject, Rev. M. J. Savage said:—
"If the life we are leading here is all there is to it, every sensible man would wish to know it, and yet there is no use in hiding from us the fact that such a knowledge would be sad to most of us and that it would change the entire meaning and outlook of existence.
"I have been immensely interested in these investigations because I believe that if we could make people sure of continued existence and could couple with this in popular appreciation a recognition of the universal law of cause and effect, we should be able to lift the level of the moral life of the world. That is, if people could know that they must keep right on and if they could couple with this the further knowledge that as the past has made the present, so the present must make the future; that there is no magic in the fact of death to change our nature, but that we keep right on what we have made ourselves—this knowledge would seem to me the mightiest moral lever that the human mind can possibly conceive.
"If the mass of men come to believe that this life is all, it is the most natural thing in the world that people should struggle for their share of whatever good things life may seem to have for them as they go along. If we are only dogs in a world kennel whose roof is the sky, why should one smarter and fiercer than the rest be allowed to monopolize a pile of bones a thousand times larger than he can personally use while the rest simply snarl and starve?
"There is no use in my saying that this is not a practical question. It seems to me the most practical and vital of all of which we can possibly conceive. What kind of being am I? What is the rational way for me to live? On what scale shall I lay out my life? What is to be the possible outcome and what shall I try to attain? If these questions are not practical and important, then I do not know of any which are more than trifles."