In the Eighteenth century—right smack in the middle of the Age of Enlightenment, something marvelous was happening. In both Wales and in the Great Awakening of New England, the Holy Spirit began to fall and bring a radical revival. People experienced transformation, as they turned to the Lord in unprecedented numbers. Listen to some of the voices of people that met God during this time as they describe the heart of revival—revival of the heart.
God used Howell Harris powerfully in the Welsh revival, and he shares how he met with God on June 18, 1735:
I felt suddenly my heart melting within me like wax before the fire with love to God my Savior; and also felt not only love, peace, etc., but a longing to be dissolved with Christ. Then was a cry in my inmost soul which I was totally unacquainted with before. Abba Father! Abba Father! I could not help calling God my Father; I knew that I was His child, and that He loved me and heard me. My soul, being filled and satiated, crying, “Tis enough, I am satisfied. Give me strength, and I will follow Thee through fire and water.” I could say I was happy indeed. There was in me a well of water, springing up to everlasting life, (John 4:14). The love of God was shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost (Rom. 5:5). – from Eifion Evans’ Daniel Rowland and the Great Evangelical Awakening
Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards—arguably the greatest theologian of the Eighteenth century in America, recounts a similar story from January 1742:
All night I continued in a constant, clear and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ’s excellent and transcendent love, of His nearness to me and of my dearness to Him…I seemed…to perceive a glow of divine love come down from the heart of Christ in heaven, into my heart, in a constant stream, like a stream or pencil of sweet light. At the same time, my heart and soul all flowed out in love to Christ; so that there seemed to be a constant flowing and reflowing of heavenly and divine live, from Christ’s heart to mine; and I appeared to myself to float or swim, in these bright, sweet beams of the love of Christ…So far as I am capable of making a comparison, I think that what I felt each minute…was worth more than all the outward comfort and pleasure which I had enjoyed in my whole life put together. It was pure delight, which fed and satisfied my soul. – from Jonathan Edwards’ The Works of Jonathan Edwards
William Williams, the hymn writer, describes what happened when the Holy Spirit was poured out on Wales in 1762:
For there fell upon us the sweet breath of the love of the Lord. The cloud melted away, the sun shone, we drank of the fruit of the vines of the promised land, and we were made to rejoice. Gone was unbelief, gone guilt, gone fear, gone a timid, cowardly spirit, lack of love, envy, suspicion, together with all the poisonous worms that tormented us before; and in their place came love, faith, hope, and a joyful spirit, with a glorious multitude of the graces of the Holy Spirit. – from Eifion Evans’ Daniel Rowland and the Great Evangelical Awakening