With some reminiscences of
THE WELSH REVIVAL
REV. W. NANTLAIS WILLIAMS
[The author of the following reminiscence of local businessman and evangelical Christian William Herbert (18591937) was the Reverend Nantlais Williams (18741959), preacher at Bethany Methodist Chapel in Ammanford for over forty years. Nantlais describes William Herbert as 'Saint, Businessman, Preacher', not three human qualities normally found together in one job description, which make this claim, if true, a novelty to be savoured. The memoir follows exactly as first published in 1937, including the original page numbers (above the page) to assist in quoting from the biography. An item on Nantlais Williams can be found in this web site by clicking HERE. To see more about the church of the Plymouth Brethren founded by William Herbert click HERE. William Herbert's obituary on his death in 1937 can be found at the end of the Nantlais biography.]
"Saint, Businessman, Preacher"
Page - 1 -
I CAME to know Mr. William Herbert in the Revival of 1904. In one sense I knew him many years before that time of blessing. In fact it would have been difficult not to have known him in such a small town as Ammanford was at that time. Everyone in the place knew each other then. The village-town was permeated with the homely Welsh character of the renowned Watcyn Wyn. Apart from that neighbourliness, one could not avoid William Herbert for other reasons, for did he not hold very "peculiar" and what we considered fantastic views on religion?; and in addition to that, he had the audacity to promulgate his theories at street corners in the open air. True, he stood there all alone very often, especially for the first years that I remember him; but his loneliness only served to emphasise his peculiarity and made him a well-known figure - an object of derision to many, of scorn to some, of respect to a few.
- 2 -
HOME and "THE FAR
In order to understand his strange views, it is interesting and necessary to trace the steps of his life. Mr. Herbert was born in the year 1859-a notable year in Wales of another mighty revival. He came from a well-known family in Ammanford. His father was a highly respected deacon in the old and honoured Church of Christian Temple, and there was a genuinely pious atmosphere in his home at Cathilas Farm, and subsequently at Dyffryn, Tirydail. Naturally, the children brought up in such surroundings could not but follow in the same direction. Religion became a part of their nature, as it afterwards proved in their lives. Mr. Hopkins, Tyisaf, Mrs. Herbert's eldest son, became a deacon in Tabernacle, Ffairfach, Llandilo, as did Mr. Henry Herbert, the next son, in Gwynfryn, Ammanford, and who could not feel the gentle religious glow which radiated from the daughter, Mrs. Evans. This same spirit was also manifested in William Herbert and in Dr. Herbert, the youngest son.
Something which we call "circumstance" intrigued to lead the young William away from home when he was twenty years of age, and that to a far country, especially at that time, not the far country of the prodigal, but to New Zealand, which is not so far today, but then it was almost beyond the reach of any human communication. No doubt he began to be exercised with the desire to go abroad when he was at school in Swansea. A sea captain used to stay in the same house as he did when
- 3 -
his ship was in port. As the stories of Captain Cook fired the imagination of Carey, so this captain's tales moved the lad from Ammanford. His friend and fellow student, David Lewis, Felin Forge, Llandyfan, also felt the same longing. They both planned to go abroad when their school days were over, and as New Zealand was praised above all other countries by the sea captain, nothing would satisfy William Herbert but a voyage to that land of bliss. His friend, Lewis, accompanied him to Australia. The spirit of adventure must have been strong in him. He dared to do the big thing in his natural joumeyings that he did afterwards in his spiritual pilgrimage. No doubt his daring spirit in taking that lonely passage out to New Zealand stood him in good stead when he walked the more lonely path of Christian experience afterwards, and to preach alone on the streets of Ammanford.
- 4 -
HIS CONVERSION AND
However, during his sojourn in New Zealand he met God. It is most wonderful too that he had to travel such a great distance to meet Him, when it was evident that he was surrounded by Him from his childhood in his home, in his Church, in religious Ammanford, and in Wales, the land of God's gracious visitations. If God could be found anywhere, He could be found in his original surroundings. Yet strangely enough, it is a fact that one can be surrounded by religious influences without once meeting God in a real, experimental way. Jacob was reared in a Godly home, but it was on his lonely journey to his Uncle Laban at Bethel that he really met God. In this particular point history repeated itself in the experience of Mr. Herbert. He too found God in the vital way, not at home, but in remote New Zealand.
During his stay at Ngaire in that country, he attended services which were held at a farmhouse. It was here he discovered that, though he was a religious young man, he was not "born again." In the year 1884, however, he came into contact with Mr. C. H. Hinman, an earnest evangelist, and under his ministry he was brought to a saving knowledge of God in Christ.
Having made the great choice, he soon found that a real faith in the Saviour brought a new life, and a wonderful new joy, as the more he testified to the new experience, the more joy he possessed. In a Bible
- 5 -
which he had at that time, and which is still treasured by his family, he entered the following inscription:
BORN INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD
OCTOBER 21, 1884.
Of this time, Mr. Henry Rees, a missionary in India, who on his first visit home to England, returned via New Zealand, wrote:
"Whilst in that country and visiting a place called Ngaire, where I had a meeting, I was delighted at being told that it was the place where Mr. Herbert lived and worked. I was glad to hear precious items of that time and of his first love in Christ. A dear brother at the place pointed out to me where they lived together, and sometimes, he said he would leave Mr. Herbert 'digging into' the Bible as he bade him goodnight, and on rising at dawn next morning, he would find him still at the same Book, not having left it during the night - so great was his desire, yea, and his delight too, in searching out the unsearchable riches of Christ in His precious Word. He was full of joy he said, with his face even preaching the gospel, and he was a great help to the young assembly in that place.
The Lord visited the district with mighty power during the years 1883-884, when for miles around a large number of precious souls was brought into the kingdom. The chief instrument used of God in that movement was the late Mr. C. H. Hinman, and it was through him, as is well known, that Mr. Herbert was brought to know the Lord; I might also add that Mr. Hinman baptized my
- 6 -
wife in New Zealand before she left for India, whilst I was baptized by Mr. Herbert in Ammanford.
It seems a coincidence that Mr. Hinman and Mr. Herbert were almost of the same age, and both left the shores of the old country for New Zealand when about twenty years of age, though complete strangers to each other in those days. Both also were enabled through grace to put in a good day's service for the Master - Mr. Hinman for about forty years, and Mr. Herbert for about fifty-three years, and both with a 'good finish' and we fancy we can hear them give their testimony:- 'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.' Psalm 115."
Mr. Taylor, of Waikato, New Zealand, also writes of Mr. Herbert:
"He and a Mr. James Young, along with about forty others, were saved in Ngaire about 1884, through the preaching of Messrs. Hinman, Chrystal, Dickie and Hoyce, and in the joy of their first love began to look around to see where they could spread the gospel. They held meetings in my father's house at a bush district named Cardiff about seven miles from Ngaire, and many of the brethren came to give their testimony and a word in the gospel. The result was that quite a good work was done. This was in 1886, when I was saved, and four of my sisters, and also a brother.
When it was manifest that God was doing a work in the district, Mr. Herbert and several of the brethren, in order to be on the spot to help any who were interested, undertook a difficult piece of work, which I believe was not very profitable to them, except as compared with the
- 7 -
Apostle Paul's 'prosperous journey' by the will of God as mentioned in Acts, chapter twenty seven."
What I always remember was that Mr. Herbert would open up the Scriptures to answer any question put to him, and that taught us to do the same. It gives such power to an answer.
After thus witnessing to his new found Redeemer for four years in New Zealand, he found himself yearning to return to his old Wales, to testify also to his own people, and so to bring his family and his friends to the same knowledge of Christ. In 1888 he arrived at Ammanford, and like Paul, he began to preach without delay, witnessing both to small and great.
True, he was not a preacher by profession. He found after his return something which proved a very useful and successful occupation for his daily calling. He took over a Saw Mill in Quay Street on the river Aman. This brought him into contact with the business life of Ammanford, and the district around. His highly respected connections too, undoubtedly gave him a good start, but apart from that, he proved himself an excellent business man.
Now this was the William Herbert who stood at the street corners of Ammanford with his Bible in his hand preaching to those who cared to listen to him. When I came to the town in 1900, as the young minister of Bethany, with others, I came to regard him as a very peculiar man, or at least a man who held very peculiar views, and who did very peculiar things.
- 8 -
Just think of some of the things which offended us. He preached in the open-air! - a very unusual thing to do. It was quite unorthodox. All the "right" preaching we thought was to be done in the pulpits, in a respectable way. It was only cheap jacks who held forth on a street corner. Moreover he carried a Bible with him. What an offensive display of godliness. He had not been set apart to preach, either. Who was this layman who had never been to any Theological College nor ordained to preach by any Church, who dared to encroach on the preserves of the trained ministers of Christ? The most offensive thing of all was what he taught. He said that we had to be "born again "- all of us. We would have had no objection to this, of course, if he had confined his message to well-known sinners in the town, but when he insisted that all members of Churches - and ministers as well - had to undergo this spiritual experience, and that no one was really saved, whatever his profession was, unless he knew too that he was saved, perhaps it was this assurance of salvation (Sicrwydd Cadwedigaeth) that was chiefly the bone of contention in the town. Regeneration in itself is a drastic thing to preach. It stupefied Nicodemus! When one added that assurance of regeneration was needful too - as there could not be the change without the assurance - it created a stir, and an ill-feeling as well. The place was really in a turmoil, as Iconium was when Paul and Barnabas
- 9 -
preached there, only with this difference, that Iconium was divided rather equally between the Apostles and the angry Jews, while in Ammanford the town was divided between all the people and Mr. Herbert. He stood alone.
There was also his attitude towards the Churches. Logically this followed his insistence on assurance of salvation. Since everybody, according to his standpoint, had to know that he was saved and as nobody in the Churches had such knowledge - in theory at any rate - or had ever thought of it, or dared to express such an experience, it stood to reason to Mr. Herbert that all members in the Churches were lost. Yes, the ministers and deacons and members of all the Churches - including the young minister of Bethany - were lost. This led him at that time to speak disparagingly of the Churches almost in every address. Of course, as I said, it was the logical issue of his belief regarding assurance of salvation.
But though buffetted in return by the Churches, he was not daunted. Though the seed of his witnessing seemed then to fall literally by the way side, he never faltered. He carried on courageously. A man who braved such enmity must surely be a man of very deep convictions. Sooner or later such a dogged perseverance for the truth must tell.
- 10 -
THE FIRST FRUITS
At last, after many years of unfruitful toil, God rewarded him with two or three souls who were outstanding in their experience. One of them was the gentle William Jones, the station master of Ammanford, the father of Mr. Olwyn Jones, the present station master and his faithful sisters, who attached themselves in their childhood to the Assembly, and have remained steadfast up to this day, Mr. Olwyn Jones having become a recognised and much esteemed leader among them. Mr. William Jones was a highly esteemed deacon in Christian Temple, but early in his new experience of Christ was found in the new company of believers. Mrs. Davies, Foundry Row, threw in her lot with Mr. Herbert. She had been converted, however, at the Y.M.C.A., and was a wonderful spiritual character. But perhaps the most outstanding convert was Eli, the Carpenter - (Eli y Saer).
Eli was originally from Carmarthen, and had been brought up, if I am not mistaken, in Water Street Church. His life in Ammanford, however, was not exemplary in any way. In fact he became a confirmed drunkard, and as hopeless a character as one could imagine. Nobody thought that Eli could be reclaimed. One night he set fire to a shed in which he slept. Mrs. Davies, however, had a strange dream about that time, if not in fact the night of the fire. She saw in her dream a man bearing the name Eliezer in some terrible plight appealing for help. One can imagine her surprise
- 11 -
when she found afterwards that a man by the name of Eliezer ("Eli ") had put a shed on fire close by, and that he was lying in a field which adjoined her house in a miserable condition. She pleaded with him to come inside for some food. Having come as far as the door, Eli, observing his hands and his general condition, could not think of entering the house, so some food was given him to partake of outside. The next step in this spiritual drama was Mrs. Davies' pleading with her family to allow her to take him in altogether as a lodger. Naturally there was a definite objection to such a procedure. Entertaining as lodger the despised Eli who was not much better than a tramp! But ultimately Mrs. Davies, the wonderful interceder she was, won her point; and with her importunity at the throne of Grace, and Mr. Herbert's testimony, Eli became a new man, and what a beautiful character he turned out to be.
We shall never forget an open-air meeting held on the Square in a later year, when the leader of the meeting, the Rev. Seth Joshua, testified to God's grace in saving a drunkard like himself, and threw out the question
"Is there anybody else here who has been saved from the sawdust of the tap-room? Let him come on to say so.
In a flash came the answer from the back of the ring:
"Yes, here's one!
It was Eli. He made his way calmly through the crowd to the middle of the ring, and bore such a
- 12 -
wonderful testimony to God's grace in saving him that many were moved to tears, such power accompanied his words.
It is stated that on Lord's Day, July 20, 1902, after baptising three brethren in the river Aman, one of whom was Henry Rees, of Llanelly, who has done distinguished service for Christ in India, a company of seven brethren were gathered together in the Ivorites Hall, Ammanford, to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread, for the first time.
Mr. Joseph James, Foelallt, New Road, was another early convert. He was an active worker in Ebenezer Church, but having come to a new saving knowledge of the Redeemer, he joined the small band, and has been a consistent and greatly beloved adherent ever since.
Mr. Louis Tranter was another young convert who threw in his lot with Mr. Herbert at this time. Louis, as we called him, was the son of Mr. Henry Tranter, a station master at Tirydail, and a deacon at Bethany, a very fervent and dear soul, who with his family subsequently joined the new company. Mr. Louis Tranter, however, was at Ben Evans', Swansea, when he was converted through the Y.M.C.A. In Swansea there was an Assembly of the Brethren, and Mr. Herbert occasionally visited it, as he did the ones at Clydach, Mumbles and Llanelly, as there was no other Assembly of his persuasion nearer Ammanford. Mr. Tranter also came in contact with members of the Swansea Assembly, and was told that one of their members lived in Ammanford. When this was pointed out to him he sought out Mr. Herbert and became one of his associates every time he came home to his native town.
- 13 -
"A SOUND OF A GOING."
These were the days of small beginnings. Few indeed were the boulders that became loose. But the avalanche was on its way. The year 1904 will be ever memorable in Ammanford and throughout Wales, and many parts of the world. This was the year when the great glaciers thawed under the gentle heat of the Sun of Righteousness. Yes, this was the year of the great Welsh revival.
To me it will be ever unforgettable, in that it changed my whole outlook. I must admit too, that I found evidences of its coming in my own experiences, though I hardly knew their significance at the time. Many a burning message was sent to my conscience to tell me that the King was on His way.
I remember that I preached in Carmarthen one Sunday of that year. I found when I arrived there that all the Churches of the town were expecting a United Mission to commence that evening at Water Street in a great public meeting, at eight o'clock. Mr. W. H. Lane, the Free Church Council's Missioner, was to give the address. I wended my way to the gathering with the crowd. The spacious chapel was full. The message stirred me. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Lane asked us all to bow our heads, and if anyone wanted to accept the Saviour, he requested such an one to stand up. Many responded. Then he suggested that anybody who wanted to be prayed for
- 14 -
could do the same. I felt that I was just the one to respond to that invitation; but then it dawned upon me that my friend, Mr. Roderick (Rhiw Fawr at present) was sitting by me. What would he think of me? No, I must not yield.
I remember visiting Mr. Herbert at about that time one day in his office at the Saw Mill. I wanted to sell him a ticket either for a concert or an eisteddfod that we held in Bethany. I persuaded myself, of course, to think that as he claimed to be such a definite Christian, he was bound to exercise Christian generosity, and buy my ticket, not realising that it is sometimes more Christian to withhold than to give support to some causes. We had a tussle over the ticket, and the whole question of Salvation came up, and Assurance, of course. I defied him to show me a single verse in the New Testament that proved his contention. He turned gently to John XII, 46, and read:
"I am come a light into the world that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness."
I was startled inwardly. I never knew that there was such a verse, and though I still argued gallantly with him, I went away with an uneasy conscience. I felt, to use slang, that I had been fairly floored. There is nothing like a verse. The Word of God is like a two-edged sword; but I was very perverse then. I remember arguing with Mr. Louis Tranter too, on the street, at that time, when I told him as a parting shot, that I did not want to know that I was saved, that I by far preferred to be in ignorance on such an exalted subject. This sounded well too, as it savoured of a
- 15 -
very humble Christian spirit, not to be too curious about such eternal mysteries as Assurance.
But the Holy Spirit was striving with me; I was not happy.
About the beginning of Summer 1904, news came that some extraordinary religious fervour was manifest at New Quay, Cardiganshire, at the Rev. Joseph Jenkins' Church. In August, my friend, Mr. D. E. Thomas, then a schoolmaster at Penmorfa, near New Quay, paid a visit to our town. He afterwards entered the ministry, and took charge of churches at Tumble, Morriston and Llanstephen. His mother and his sisters lived in Eirianfa, as it was then called, College Street, and carried on business where the town offices now stand.
He was a gentleman, and a fine Christian. He came to our Society meeting during this visit. Coming from Penmorfa, I thought it was a splendid opportunity to hear first-hand news of the Revival at New Quay, so I asked Mr. Thomas to tell us something about it. He was rather reluctant to comply, as he did not like to speak too glibly of a movement which to him was evidently of God. We were all deeply moved by his story.
Simultaneously with the above movement, there were also some stirrings in connection with the Forward Movement under the direction of that fervent man of God, the Rev. John Pugh, in Cardiff and other centres; the Rev. Seth Joshua, that intrepid evangelist, was his distinguished collaborator. Pugh however, wanted to spread the fire in the country Churches, and Seth was set apart to conduct missions in different towns and
- 16 -
villages. I felt it would be a good thing if we had him to conduct such a mission in Ammanford. The Holy Spirit was evidently working His way into my heart, though I was unconscious of it. Arrangements were made for Mr. Joshua to come to us for ten days in the middle of November, 1904.
As time went on, however, we thought in Bethany that such a mission should be the concern of all the Churches, so we decided to send out an invitation to every Church to send representatives to a committee, to make full arrangements. I remember that reference was made in the invitation to our need of the Holy Spirit. When I met Mr. Samuel Callard of the English Wesleyan Church on the street one day, he remarked:
"I like that reference to the Holy Spirit in your invitation." It is evident that the Third Person of the Trinity was not referred to very often in those days, not as often as Mr. Callard, who had been nurtured in the Wesleyan fiery experience and tradition of the Holy Spirit, would have liked. When the committee was held in our vestry, the place was full of representatives from the Churches. God was evidently moving.
By a dramatic neatness of God's Providence, as Dan Crawford would say, we had previously arranged with the Rev. Joseph Jenkins of New Quay, to minister in our anniversary meetings too, on the first Sunday in November, so without our knowing it, the Lord was concentrating on Ammanford. He turned His big guns on us. And what a mighty battle it turned out to be!
- 17 -
THE GREAT HARVEST
It began with unequalled power under Mr. Jenkins' ministry over the weekend. Scores were wounded and many slain during that Sabbath and the Monday night. The meetings too were carried on in an informal way after his departure. Crowds congregated every night at Bethany to sing and pray and testify. We saw hundreds on the battlefield of God, not only wounded but dead - dead to sin and self, but alive to God.
This wonderful fire which broke out so unexpectedly in our midst was fanned and wisely directly by the mission of Mr. Joshua which followed in a few days. Many had been to Sinai with its threats and thunders during the previous fortnight, but Mr. Joshua led us to the Mount of Calvary, where gentler breezes blew.
This revival which we experienced in Ammanford, proved afterwards to be a part of a greater movement of God throughout the Principality and outside, even to such remote countries as India. I remember Mr. Jenkins telling us during the weekend of a young student from Newcastle-Emlyn, who had attended a small Convention that was held by the new converts of New Quay at Blaenanerch, near Cardigan, where Seth Joshua and the Rev. W. W. Lewis ministered. "That young man," he said, "was crushed in Blaenanerch the other day. What will become of him I don't know. But I am told that he has gone home to Caslwchwr (Loughor) to tell his people there of his new experience."
- 18 -
That young man proved to be Mr. Evan Roberts, who was afterwards sent by the Holy Spirit throughout Wales like a mighty whirlwind from heaven. We had' news the following days that the Revival had broken out at Caslwchwr too, and later that all Wales had become aflame for God from end to end.
This is not the place to relate the story of the Welsh Revival in general, nor of it in particular in Ammanford. We have related as much as gives the setting to our appreciation of Mr. Herbert. After our new experience, we found that we were one with him now on the great vital issue of Salvation. I came to see that he had only done what all true Christians had done from the day of Pentecost down to 1904. He only testified to what Paul had experienced, St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Bunyan, the Methodist fathers, Wesley and Whitfield in England, and Harries and Rowlands and Pantycelyn, the Sweet Singer of Wales, in the Principality. As an instance of the attitude of some of these great Christian reformers to "Conversion" and "Assurance," one finds that Wesley's first reaction to these experiences was exactly that of Mr. Herbert, as the following extract from "John Wesley," by James Layer (Nelson's Short Biographies) pages 73-4, proves
"Four days after the decisive meeting at the Society in Aldersgate Street, John attended the reading of a sermon at the house of the elder Hutton. When the doctor had finished, Wesley rose before the numerous company and declared that five days before he had not been a Christian, and that the majority of those present were not Christians either . . . John held to his new
- 19 -
doctrine that a Christian was one who had been converted and had received 'Assurance of Salvation.'"
Why was it that I had not seen this before? I, too, could say as the Rev. Ken Evans, M.A. said on a similar occasion when he found how stupid he had been: "I must have been standing on my head all the time," looking at things from a wrong angle altogether. I had been brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light.
Nobody was happier than Mr. Herbert at my new found joy and discovery. We had many happy hours together during those years. I was greatly helped by his riper experience. His insistence on the Word of God, the written Word proved a corrective to my more profuse imaginative flights. This I found once very definitely, when I published a little booklet not quite to his liking. It contained some special messages which the agent asserted had come from God, and which I, in my innocence, believed to be trustworthy. I went to the cost of printing these revelations. Mr. Herbert read the booklet, and disapproved of it in his gentle way, pointing out that it was not strictly in accord with the written Word in the Bible. He advised me not to sell more copies, and came down one day to my home and quietly placed in my hand seven gold sovereigns to help me to meet the cost I had incurred in printing. This touched me very deeply indeed. It revealed to me what a generous man he was where the work of God was concerned.
Needless to say, the Revival proved a time of much reaping to Mr. Herbert and the few attached to him.
- 20 -
His harvest had come. Many now sat at his feet as their teacher. After a period of assembling on Sunday in the anteroom of the Ivorites Hall (the week-night meetings were held at his home) and subsequently in the little Rechabites Hall near Ammanford Station, which was afterwards used by the Ammanford Silver Band, the increasing company decided to build a more suitable edifice for themselves. This led to the erection of the Gospel Hall in Lloyd Street, which has been a centre of much evangelical activity and blessing in the town and district. He was the means too of helping to establish other assemblies in surrounding places. What his generosity has been to these centres, and to the poor and to the work in the mission field God alone knows.
- 21 -
THE HUMBLE CHRISTIAN
He was a deeply sincere and humble Christian. We did not see eye to eye on some things, but we agreed to differ in the best spirit on some important subjects. He was not perfect, but he did not try to hide his failings, and he succeeded too often in hiding his great Christian virtues.
Though the Revival proved a revolution in my own life and outlook, it proved almost as much a blessing in his. One of his memorable confessions to me was this:
"Before the Revival I spent too much time in belittling the Churches; but God, in the Revival, showed very clearly to me that my work was to exalt Christ rather than denounce the Churches."
It is only a very true and humble Christian who would make that confession. This new vision of God's way remained with him all the following years of his life. I never again heard him speaking against professing Christians. He had seen the larger vision of God in Christ. He knew now the Spirit of Him who when reviled reviled not again. His Spirit had been sweetened by the love of Christ. The new note in his testimony very often fell like dew from heaven.
Not only did he entertain a more loving and generous spirit towards everybody, but he rejoiced when he had a chance of attending meetings in the Churches which
- 22 -
were for definite spiritual purposes. He was one of our most ardent supporters in our Whit-week Convention, and he attended the Llandrindod Wells Convention regularly to the very end, and enjoyed to the full the messages of the Lord, whether they came through a Bishop, a Clergyman, a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Congregational Minister. Though he clung to his convictions, he was broad-minded and large-hearted enough to assemble with genuine Christians of every persuasion - of every creed and sect. The Churches of Ammanford in their turn paid their respect to him. They appointed him to be the Treasurer of the British and Foreign Bible Society Auxiliary in the district, an appointment which gratified him very much, as he valued the Word of God above all treasures, and as the honour too, was previously held by his father. This work he executed with his usual thoroughness until the honour devolved upon his daughter, Dr. Gladys Herbert.
He proved to be a sound and wise leader to the younger generation who joined him in the Gospel Hall, and the spirit which he manifested in public was as much in evidence in his home at Llwynon. He was particularly blessed in his wife. Mrs. Herbert, when she married him, did not shirk the cross it entailed. Being a quiet and gentle believer herself, though attending the Church of England previous to her wedding, she dared not only to accompany him to their Assembly, but to stand with him in the open air. Doubtless her devotion and loyalty during the early period of his public work proved a great encouragement to him, and enabled him also to entertain the Lord's servants who frequently visited the town for missions and other purposes.
- 23 -
It is no small credit to his testimony that his three children too, though thrown into the rough and tumble of life in the pursuit of their studies in various colleges and hospitals, have remained faithful to their parents' vision. Dr. Gladys, Dr. Eirene, and Mr. John Herbert, have their joy in the things that matter and in the Assembly of their co-believers.
His last days were spent in the tranquil surroundings of his home, and in the comforting fellowship of his beloved family. It was evident that the first experiences of Christ in New Zealand brought him much joy in his retirement. Like fruit, ripened and mellowed with years, they proved to be very sweet, and some of the verses which he learnt there he was very fond of repeating:
"I know it, I believe it,
I'll say it fearlessly,
That God the highest, mightiest,
Forever loveth me.
At all times, in all places,
He standeth by my side,
To still the battle's fury,
The tempest, and the tide."
* * * * * *
"By faith in a glorified Christ on the throne,
We give up the joys of the world to its own.
As pilgrims and strangers we plainly declare,
Our home is up yonder; but will you be there?"
We're watching for Jesus, Who entered within,
The holiest of all, having put away sin;
A place in the glory He's gone to prepare,
Where we shall be with Him; but will you be there?
- 24 -
We're waiting for Jesus - His promise is plain,
His Word, sure and steadfast - He's coming again
A numberless people will meet in the air
The Lord Who redeemed them; but will you be there"?
He was a happy believer in the great truth of the Second Coming of Christ - an aspect of the gospel which dawned on my mind too in the years following the Revival, and what a glorious Hope it is. Is it not a tragedy that more Christians do not partake of its joy? But he did not live to see the Blessed Rapture which he hoped for. He was called home September 1st, 1937. But if he has not been honoured to be in the company of those who will be alive and caught up at His Coming, he will be found among the hosts - the more honoured crowd I think - who will accompany the Master at that great day, and when that dawns I shall look for my friend amongst the first at the Great Reunion.
- 25 -
Appreciation By Mr. Olwyn Jones
Although I knew Mr. William Herbert from my childhood days, it was after a season of spiritual blessing, in the year 1903, that I became really acquainted with him. Happy indeed are the memories of those days of "First Love" and joy in the Lord. It was my privilege to be associated with him in Church life from then until within a few years of his home-call. I was greatly impressed by three of his outstanding characteristics: humility, loyalty and devotion. He was generally regarded as a very humble man, but his humility was exceptional when dealing with spiritual matters. One of his favourite expressions when addressing the Lord in prayer was that used by the Patriarch Abraham: "Who am I but dust and ashes." When seeking a blessing upon the ministry of the Word on individual souls, how he would "remind" the Lord that he was "not worthy of the least of His mercies," but to grant the petitions offered for "His Name's Sake." Need I add that such humility invariably brought the desired blessings with "seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." Few men possessed the grace that belonged to him of taking the low place, and those of us who knew him in the "inner circle," saw demonstrated in his life the truth of the proverb: "Before honour is humility." I shall ever remember the reply given by a man of standing in the town of Ammanford, when asked to give his impressions of a Gospel service, which was held in the Palace Theatre in the same town. "I enjoyed the service, but what impressed me most was Mr. Herbert on his knees in a child-like manner,
- 26 -
seeking God's blessing upon the service. He was so very humble in prayer."
The second characteristic mentioned was loyalty, especially to the Word of God. To him the Scriptures were the final Court of Appeal, and human tradition would at all times have to give place to "thus saith the Lord." He had been a diligent student of the Word of God, and to appreciate his knowledge of it one would have to attend his Bible readings. It was my happy lot to sit at his feet for many years, and what a privilege it was to listen to him expounding the Scriptures - "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" - every passage of the sacred writings being opened up in the light of the whole, and thus he rightly divided the Word of Truth. Quite a number of the Lord's people who were saved during the Revival of 1904 have reason to thank God for the way in which he led them from bondage to liberty by his clear expositions of the Scriptures. For example, his interpretation of Romans VII and VIII, and the way in which he explained the old and new nature in every Christian, led many a doubting child of God into settled peace and joy. Whenever any question was raised as to what course should be followed, he would immediately say: "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." How often he replied to an earnest enquirer: "If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine." His confidence in the Word of Truth was such that he would rest implicitly upon it, knowing it to be the mind of God. Many sought his advice regarding spiritual matters, but he would never give his own opinion. His answer was: "Who is your Master?
- 27 -
"If the Lord, shall we turn to His Word for His mind upon the matter?" And many a troubled believer was thus helped, and "went on his way rejoicing." He was a faithful under-shepherd, having fed the flock of God with the finest pastures, and led them beside the waters of quietness.
In touching upon his devotion to the Lord, I have no doubt that therein lay the secret of his success spiritually. One of his favourite expressions was "The Lord's portion is His people," and he lived in the consciousness of being the object of God's Love. When dwelling upon the believer's portion in Christ, his face was radiant with joy, a true index of the heart that was beating in happy fellowship with his Lord and Master. How often he would lead the Assembly in worship, at the Breaking of Bread, reminding us that the Lord saw no perverseness in Israel or sin in Jacob, and exhorting us to look away from self within and the world without to our Beloved at God's right hand, with the result that our hearts responded in praise, adoration and worship. Hallowed indeed were those moments, and after the alabaster box was broken "the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." Do we not read that "with such sacrifices - the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name - God is well pleased."
Our beloved brother stood alone for God in Ammanford for many years witnessing in the open air, distributing tracts, visiting isolated souls who were enquiring after the way of life, and during that period he preached the presence of God, so that like Moses of old, he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. His
- 28 -
humility, loyalty and devotion were rewarded in due time. The Lord was pleased to set His seal upon His servant's labouring; an Assembly was formed, a testimony for God was established, and our beloved brother had the joy of ministering to the Church, founded according to New Testament principles, almost until the time he was called to higher service in September, 1937. We reflect with joy upon the happy seasons spent together in the Master's Service upon earth, and rejoice to know that "the fellowship enjoyed below shall sweeter grow in heaven above."
A. Olwyn Jones.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY
CARDIFF PRINTERS LIMITED, 116, 118, 119 CITY ROAD
Price 6d. each.
Proceeds to be devoted to the Lord's work
DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM HERBERT
MAN WHO INTRODUCED ELECTRIC
LIGHT TO AMMANFORD
One of the pioneers of the development of Ammanford as an industrial centre in association with the late Mr. Henry Herbert, architect and engineer, and the late Mr. Evan Evans chemist, Mr. William Herbert, died at his residence, Llwynon, High Street, Ammanford, on Wednesday morning, at the age of 77 years.
....He had been in an ailing state of health for a considerable period. The end was unexpected.
....An example of the self-made man, Mr. Herbert was a native of Ammanford, having been born at Cathilas Farm. As a youth he emigrated to New Zealand, and was for eight years engaged in lumbering. He returned to his native town, and applying the valuable experience he had gained, commenced business as a timber merchant, establishing the well- known Baltic Saw Mills, where he carried on an extensive business.
....Mr. Herbert was one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren sect in the town, and was a staunch and active worker in its affairs at the Gospel Hall, where he will be greatly missed.
....He introduced electric light into Ammanford, erecting his own generating plant, and supplying private and public consumers. Around about 1919 he disposed of his electricity undertaking to the Urban Council.
....In addition to the late Mr. Henry Herbert, a brother was Dr. Herbert, Tumble, and a sister was the wife of the late Mr. Evan Evans, chemist.
....Nephews are Mr. Herbert G. Evans, chemist and optician: Mr. Arthur Herbert, and Mr. Dilwyn Herbert.
....He leaves a widow and two daughters Dr. Gwladys Herbert, school clinic doctor for the county; and Dr. Irene Herbert, of the Swansea Corporation Clinic and a son, Mr. John Herbert, M.P.S., London.
....The funeral (gentlemen only), will take place on Saturday at 3.30 p.m., interment being at the Christian Temple burial-ground.
[Amman Valley Chronicle, 2nd September 1937.]
LATE MR. WILLIAM HERBERT, LLWYNON
A large and representative gathering attended the funeral, which took place last Saturday, of the late Mr. William Herbert of Llwynon, High Street, Ammanford, a leading industrialist who had made contributions to the spiritual and material welfare of the town.
....Internment took place in the family vault at Christian Temple burial ground. The service at the house was taken by Messrs. Olwyn Jones and T. Higgs; at the chapel, by the Revs D. Tegfan Davies, D.D., W. Nantlais Williams, John Morgan, Missioner Henry Rees, and Mr. C. Peers, Liverpool; and at the family vault by Mr. Olwyn Jones.
(The names of numerous bearers, mourners, etc follow)
[Amman Valley Chronicle, 9th September 1937.]
Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010