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April 2009

from John Elias

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 and abominable!’
‘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 discontinued’.
(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 fellow minister)