John Elias (1774-1841) was described
as being in his lifetime ‘without a doubt the most popular
preacher that ever rose in Wales’. Not only were hearts moved
under his preaching, but, in the testimony of one of his hearers,
‘I felt as if the earth shook for miles around me’. Some
10,000 people attended his funeral in Anglesey, where much of his
ministry took place, and where, in days of revival, 44 churches were
built within 40 years.
‘When the Spirit of God convicts sinners they see what the law of
God requires of them, and that it threatens them. And as they hear
about the bad, miserable, condition of sinners, they see that they
themselves are those miserable and lost sinners, and they hear the
sentence of condemnation from the throne of God! Is it not reasonable
to fear and mourn? Who shall stand?
Again, when they perceive a complete Saviour for such persons, and a
free salvation, solely of grace, how can they but rejoice? Then the
things of the Spirit fill their affections. Is it not reasonable for
them to love and praise God, delight in his work, and seek to live to
his pleasure? It is then that the poorness of earth and of all temporal
things will be revealed to them. They see themselves as strangers on
the earth. They follow Christ, and travel towards a better country,
despising the world’.
(From a letter of 8
July 1840, in which Elias signed off, ‘Yours,
thirsting for revival’).
‘Oh robbers! Oh robbers! Oh thieves! Alas! stealing the day of
the Lord! What! robbing my Lord of his day! Oh robbers! the most vile
‘It may be hinted by some one that this fair is an old custom, it
will recover itself. If any one will give the least encouragement to
its revival, he will be accursed before the Holy Trinity, Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost. But blessed is the man that opposeth this and every
other species of iniquity’.
‘The Lord strengthened me, in the face of a great tumult, to
preach at Rhuddlan in a fair held there on a Sunday during the harvest
season. He gave me the victory. Very soon the custom was
(With reference to a
remarkable event in 1802).
‘Satan is not afraid of the soldiers, though they are armed
– of the knowledge or gifts of any preacher; but he is afraid of
the presence of God, the leader of the true army. As the Philistines
cried out, ‘Woe to us, God is come to the camp’. So a cry
would be made in hell, and a great alarm in the regiment of Satan, if
God should be pleased to appear among you’.
(From a letter to a