Evans, Christmas

Evans, Christmas an eloquent Welsh preacher, was born December 25, 1766, at Llandyssul, Cardiganshire. His father was poor, and he had no school education. At seventeen he was converted, and joined the Baptist Church. He then first learned to read the Welsh, Bible, and soon after began to exhort. His first settlement as a preacher was at Lleyn; two years after he went to Anglesea to labor as an evangelist at ten preaching places, on a salary at first of £17 a year. He died at Swansea, July 20, 1838. He early showed oratorical powers, but in Anglesea he began to be a wonder. For a series of years he made preaching tours through. South Wales, and the memory of his sermons remains to this day. The following sketch of one of these sermons is given by his biographer, the Reverend D. M. Evans: "In the midst of a general hum and restlessness the preacher had read for his text, 'And you that were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreproachable in his sight.' His first movements were stiff, awkward, and wrestling, while his observations were perhaps crude and commonplace rather than striking or novel; but he had not proceeded far before, having thus prepared himself, he took one of his wildest flights, bursting forth at the same time into those unmelodious but all-piercing shrieks under which his hearers often confessed his resistless power. Closer and closer draw in the scattered groups, the weary loungers, and the hitherto listless among the motley multitude. The crowd becomes dense with eager listeners as they press on insensibly towards the preacher. He gradually gets into the thickening plot of his homely but dramatic representation, while, all forgetful of the spot on which they stood old men and women, accustomed to prosy thoughts and ways, look up with open mouth through smiles and tears. Big burly country folk, in whom it might have been thought that the faculty of imagination had long since, been extinguished became: engrossed with ideal scenes. Men 'whose talk is of bullocks' are allured into converse with the most spiritual realities. The preachers present become dazzled with the brilliance of this new star on the horizon; they start on their feet round the strange young man, look hard at him in perfect amazement; loud and rapturous confirmations break forth from their lips: 'Amen,' 'Ben digedig,' 'Diolch byth,' fall tumultuously on the ear; the charm swells onwards from the platform to the extreme margin of the wondering crowd, and to the occasional loud laugh there has now succeeded the baptism of tears. The excitement is at its highest; the preacher concludes, but the weeping and rejoicing continue till worn out nature brings the scene to an end." His chief qualities as a preacher "include passion, or ardent excited feeling, a dramatic imagination, and grotesque humor. The published scraps of sermons which remain, and have been translated into English, illustrate these qualities, and almost only these." (Christian Spectator (Lond.) September 1863, reprinted in The Theolog. Eclectic, 1:147; Evans Memoir of Christmas Evians (1862); Stephen, Life of Christians Evans (London, 1847); Sermons of C. Evans with Memoir by Jas. Cross (Phila. 1854, 8vo).

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