Daniel Rowland was puzzled. Ordained in the Church of England early in 1734, he was assigned to be a curate (clergyman to a parish) in South Wales. However, he noticed that his people were deserting his church to listen to non-conformist preachers (that is, preachers who did not conform to the Church of England). Why? he wondered. What do they have that I don't?
There was one way to find out. Daniel went to listen to his rivals himself. Although a clergyman, he had never been converted to Christ. As a matter of fact, he enjoyed hunting a whole lot more than he enjoyed the word of God.
One day, he stood in a crowd listening to one of the nonconformists, Griffith Jones. Jones was well-known for his charity school. The speaker saw Daniel's restless expression and exclaimed, "Oh for a word to reach your heart, young man!" His concern deeply touched Daniel, who soon became a Christian. After that, he visited with Griffith Jones at every opportunity, although they lived thirty miles apart. It wasn't a matter of just jumping into a car either.
Fortunately, Daniel had a strong constitution. For his ordination, he had walked 200 miles to London and back! He always moved and spoke quickly. His energy attracted others. Daniel became a powerful preacher. But people left his sermons frightened and not knowing how to repent. Soon a more experienced minister taught Daniel to show his listeners how the blood of Christ could free them from the fear and guilt that his earlier sermons had inspired. For fifty-five years Daniel Rowland was one of the leading evangelists of Wales.
Another Welsh revival leader, Howell Harris said years later, "The power that continues with him is uncommon." So many people flocked to hear him, that clergymen of the established church grew jealous. They threw him out of his church on the grounds that he didn't restrict his preaching to his own parish. Rowland's reply was that there were so few ministers preaching the gospel, he had to take the truth wherever people were.
Later, the Church of England withdrew its license from him. Rowland's followers built him an independent church. Even after a mob beat him with sticks and stones; even after a man drew a gun on him and pulled the trigger (it misfired), Rowland kept preaching. Pastors who had been his friends withdrew their friendship because he did not meet one or another of their criteria. Rowland kept preaching. 14,000 people once attended a communion service he led. Since his chapel held only 3,000, people had to await their turn outside: Such was his impact.
"Judge your own selves," he urged his listeners. "Look upon the behavior of others through the spectacles of love. Entreat the Lord to set a watch before your mouth. Do with another man's name as you would with yours."
Daniel died on this day, October 16, 1790. One of the men that he led to Christ was Thomas Charles, who went on to found the British and Foreign Bible Society.
- "Daniel Rowland." Heath Christian Book Shop. http://www.christian-bookshop.co.uk/free/biogs/ row1.htm
- "Daniel Rowland." http://www.newble.co.uk/xheroes/rowlands.html
- Ryle, J.C. Five Christian Leaders. London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1963.
- Tokeley, Christopher. "Remembering Daniel Rowland." http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/ article_detail.php?515
- Wiersbe, Warren W. "The Neglected Awakening." Confident Living. July August 1987. pp. 32-33.
Last updated June, 2007.