position of immense potential importance; the evangelicals exploited it to secure 'tribal' adhesions on a great scale.

Daniel Rowland (1713-90) and Howel Harris (1714-73) each have some claim to be the father ofthe Welsh revival. Rowland, curate ofLlangeitho, moderated Griffith Jones's denunciatory method to become a successful revival preacher. Harris, an irascible and complex character, became the archetypal unordained exhorter, warning the flock to flee the wrath to come. Although very Welsh, he wrote almost exclusively in English, attracted into Wales the whole English evangelical circus, and helped to make Whitefield the leader ofWelsh Methodism. In touch with Halle, Herrnhut and New England, Harris was also linked with the Scots revivalists and with the Prince of Wales's court at Leicester House. By the time he parted company with Rowland in 1750, there were 433 religious societies in Wales and the borders, and nineteenth-century Welsh religious life was already beginning to take shape. The Calvinistic Methodists were much the largest of the Welsh movements, and these movements had already made their compromises with the tribal structure ofWelsh society. Pembrokeshire was the stamping ground of Howel Davies, but its substantial English population also attracted Wesley, Whitefield and the Moravians. Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire were pre-eminently the territories of Rowland and William Williams ofPantcelyn. Radnor, Montgomeryshire and Brecknock were the mission field of Howel Harris. Glamorgan and Monmouth were the most densely populated, and felt the power of the revival most deeply, partly because they attracted English as well as Welsh revivalists.

The Scottish problem was singular. By the Act of Union with England in 1707, the Kirk had received every conceivable guarantee, but it had to fight its way into the Highlands, and in the Lowlands where patronage issues were sore it was suspected of being an agent of English assimilation. The Scots Orthodox, like the Reformed Orthodox elsewhere, bewailed the degeneracy of the times, but their peculiar yardstick was the recollection of mass revival in early seventeenth-century Ulster and the West of Scotland. In the Highlands there was a stark struggle against armed Jacobites and often violent Catholics and Episcopalians. John Balfour, minister of Nigg in 1730, found a way to penetrate Gaelic society. He formed a fellowship meeting of his elders and a few others, which enabled them to acquire real expertise in prayer, the exposition of the Scriptures and experiential religion. This enabled them to establish public benchmarks for Highland religion, and to determine who might be admitted to communion. This system of fellowship meetings issued in deep and lasting revival, and opened the way to an evangelical conquest of the Highlands of a kind the English church could never achieve in Wales. The

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment