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THE REV. STEPHEN J. DAVIS, 33, MOORGATE STREET, LONDON. Collector for London : Mr. W. Parnell, 6, Benyon Cottages, De Beauvoir Sq., Kingsland.
J. HADDON, PRINTER, CASTLE STREET, FINSBURY.
MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV, CHRISTMAS EVANS.
ABRIDGED FROM A PUBLICATION BY THE REV. DAVID RHYS STEPHEX.
CHRISTMAS Evans was born at a place had the care of him. During these called Esgairwen, in the parish of most valuable years of his life, no care Llandysul, Cardiganshire, on Christmas was taken of his heart, his mind, or Day, 1766. His father, Samuel Evans, morals ; and all the concern expended was a shoemaker, and in the very on the orphan was that which was humblest circumstances ; his mother called into exercise by the purpose to was Johanna Lewis by her maiden get as much work out of him as posname, and descended from a respectable sible, and that at the least practicable family of freeholders in the parish. expense. James Lewis was a cruel,
His father was far too needy to be able selfish, and drunken man; and all his to send his children to school, and he nephew's recollections of his boyhood died when this, his second son, was in were excruciatingly bitter and painful. the ninth year of his age, leaving his The hapless youth, on leaving his uncle, family in a state of utter destitution, went to a farm called Glanclettwr, in dependent on the parish, or on such the neighbourhood; afterwards he lived friends of the widow as might prove at Penyralltfawr, at Gwenallt, and at themselves disposed and able to assist Castell-hywel. Thus did he spend his her. Mr. James Lewis of Bwlchog, in youth in a servile condition, in the direst the parish of Llanfihangel-Yeroth, his poverty, and without either friend or maternal uncle, took Christmas home, home. Of books he knew nothing; with engaging to feed and clothe him for men of general intelligence he had no such labour on the farm as the boy | acquaintance; and his very condition in might be able to perform. Here he life condemned him to association with stayed for six years; and that period whatever was rude, unreflecting, and he seems to have spent in a state of brutal, in his neighbourhood. utter neglect on the part of those who Divine mercy, however, was vouch
VOL. X.-FOURTH SERIES.
safed to him, and the boyish fear of so much learning. This, however, did death grew into habits of reflection, so not satisfy me, but I borrowed books that, when a somewhat extended excite- and learnt a little English. Mr. Davies, ment took place in the district of his my pastor, understood that I thirsted residence, he found himself comprised for knowledge, and took me to his within its influence and yielding to its school, where I stayed for six months. sway. He does not give the date of his Here I went through the Latin gramuniting with the presbyterians at mar; but so low were my circumstances Llwynrhydowain, but it must have been that I could stay there no longer." about 1782 or 1783, when he was in About this time it was that he lost his the sixteenth or seventeenth year of eye, which took place in this wise :
Six young men fell upon him unawares Of the whole of this period of his life, in the darkness of night and beat him and of the predisposing causes of his unmercifully; one of them, using a stick, seeking membership in the church under struck him above the eye, which occaMr. Davies's care, Christmas Evans says, sioned the loss of its sight,“ though,” he "I was disturbed by certain operations piously observes, in recording the event, of mind which, I believe, were not com I had my life spared.” It is a great mon, from my ninth year upwards. The mistake that has gone abroad which fear of dying in an ungodly state makes Christmas Evans "a noted boxer.” especially affected me, and this appre- So far otherwise that he says, he never hension clung to me till I was induced fought a battle in his life. Indeed, he to rest upon Christ.
All this was was by no means a man of great physical accompanied by some little knowledge courage ; he was too much a man of of the Redeemer; and now, in my imagination, while his habits were the seventieth year, I cannot deny that simplest, the least offensive, and the this concern was the dawn of the day of most yielding that can be conceived. grace on my spirit, although mingled On the night after this accident he had with much darkness and ignorance. a dream, in which the day of judgment During a revival which took place in was represented to him; he saw the the church under the care of Mr. David world in a blaze, and conceived that he Davies, many young people united them- enjoyed great confidence in calling out, selves with that people, and I amongst “ Jesus, save me!” The Lord seemed them. What became of the major part to turn towards him and to say, "It of these young converts I have never was thy intention to preach the gospel, known, but I hope God's grace followed but now it is too late, the day of judgthem as it did me, the meanest of the ment is come.” This he felt as a rewhole. One of the fruits of this awaken. proof, that he had not yielded to the ing was the desire for religious know- strong promptings of his heart to preach ledge that fell upon us. Scarcely one the gospel, and it powerfully affected person out of ten could, at this time his mind. It was always his firm belief and in those neighbourhoods, read at that he had received some of the most all, even in the language of the country. | important intimations of his life in We bought bibles and candles, and were dreams, and it was utterly vain to ataccustomed to meet together in the tempt to persuade him to the contrary. evening, in the barn of Penyralltfawr; To preach the gospel was now the and thus, in about one month, I was object of his most ardent desire. There able to read the bible in my mother was a kind of law in force at Llwynrhytongue. I was vastly delighted with dowain that no member of the church
should preach until he had received ment of that ministry, which afterwards academical training. Of this law Mr. became so mightily influential and Davies was afterwards heard to com- proved of such extensive and enduring plain ; saying, it had deprived his advantage to the churches of Wales. church of the two greatest men it had | In after life no man disapproved plagiarever produced, namely, Christmas Evans ism more than he; that is to say, the and the Rev. David Davies, afterwards wholesale appropriation of other men's a minister at Mynydd-bach, near Swan- labours; but the use of all good and sea, eminent for his eloquence and zeal, striking thoughts, wherever heard or the publisher of a useful edition of the read, was what he constantly and bible in Welsh, with brief notes ap- earnestly urged upon his younger brepended to each chapter. These two young thren. During these earliest years of men commenced preaching within a his preaching, he was in frequent agony week of each other, their first sermons of mind in reference to his own condibeing delivered in a cottage occupied by tion before God. This is, we apprehend, a tailor, in the parish of Langeler, to be traced, in some degree, to the Caermarthenshire. Christmas preached “uncertain sound” given forth by the frequently on both sides of the Teivy, ministry he had most attended. The and received considerable encourage- tendency of that ministry to induce ment from the Rev. Mr. Perkins, then self-righteousness was constantly counindependent minister at Pencader, who teracted by his own consciousness of frequently put him in his pulpit and guilt and corruption. He frequently evinced a kindly sympathy with the considered himself, he says, “a little friendless and aspiring young man. His hell,” while he had the highest opinion recollections of this period are perfectly of other Christians, and especially of characteristic of the man, and expressive every minister. He was thus, he grateof the tenderness of conscience, and the fully records the fact, preserved from care and solicitude of his preparations the indurating influences of the low for the pulpit, which distinguished him and legal Arminianism that prevailed to the end of his life. He candidly amongst his first religious connexions. confesses that his first sermon was taken During this period he occasionally heard from Beveridge's “ Thesaurus Theolo- the celebrated David Morris, father of gicus,” borrowed, probably, from his the still more celebrated Ebenezer pastor. A Mr. Davies, an intelligent Morris, both very eminent ministers of man, a farmer, heard it, and was much the Calvinistic methodist connexion, and surprised to hear such a sermon from a he acknowledges his great obligations to poor boy. In a week's time, however, Mr. Morris's preaching. One can conMr. Davies had seen the book, and the ceive how the clear and unmistakeable sermon in it; and Christmas Evans's manner in which these great men reputation was gone. "Still," the good preached the doctrine of justificntion, man charitably added, “I have some must interest, instruct, and expand the hope of the son of 'Samuel the shoe- mind and heart of the young presbymaker,' because the prayer was as good terian. The itinerating ministry of the as the sermon.” This gave Christmas Rev. Peter Williams, Jones of Llangan, Evans no great assistance, for he had and T. Davies of Neath, he also attended actually taken that also from a collec- upon, and with the same happy result, tion of prayers by the celebrated clergy- as often as opportunity occurred. Durman Griffith Jones of Llanddowror. ing the same period he became acquainted Such and so humble was the commence with certain members of the baptist
church in the village of Llandysul; and disobedience, I applied to the church to his intercourse with them he always at Aberduar, where I was in due time referred with marked gratification and received. I was then about twenty thankfulness. They, by the simplicity years and six months old. of their spirit and the richness of their “There was a great revival in Aberscriptural knowledge, strongly attracted duar at this time; scores were added to his attention to the great doctrines of the church, and there was much excitethe gospel, and prepared him for the ment in the public services. This greatly change in his connexions and position astonished me, for I had known little of which soon ensued. A man named religious enjoyment. I had felt someAmos, a member of the church at thing of the kind once by preaching in Llwynrhydowain, who had recently left company with a Methodist who was that communion and joined the baptist kind to me, and that freshness of spirit church at Aberduar, visited Christmas had remained some time upon me. But Evans; the latter, with his usual sim- now with my new friends I looked at plicity, says, “I had always regarded myself as a speckled bird,' as I did not the baptists as anabaptists, as re-baptiz- feel what they seemed to feel, and I was ing, and from my infancy had always filled with most depreciatory thoughts heard them called anabaptists, nor had of myself. I was brought soon to preach I ever understood that any man of my in company with other preachers, and I condition had searched the bible for found them altogether better and godlier himself to ascertain what baptism it preachers than I was ; I could feel no enjoined. In the controversy with my influence, no virtue in my own sermons. old friend I was pressed severely, so It. occurred to me that this might be that I was beaten ; but this I attributed owing to my habit of committing my to my ignorance; I therefore carefully sermons carefully to memory, and that I examined the scriptures to mark down thus superseded the divine aid ; while I every passage that mentioned infant supposed other preachers had theirs baptism, for I believed there were ' direct from heaven. I accordingly hundreds of such there. But after a changed my plan, and would take a careful perusal, I was terribly dis-, text and preach from it without preparappointed to find none of that character ation, saying whatever would come there. I met with the circumcision of uppermost at the time; but if it was children, the naming of children, the bad before, it now was still worse, for I nurture and admonition of children in had neither sense, nor warmth, nor life; the fear of the Lord, and gracious but some weakly intonation of voice promises to call children princes in the that affected no one. It was painful to stead of their father; but not one verse me to hear my own voice in prayer or in about the baptizing of infants. While, preaching, as it seemed to proceed from on the other hand, I met with about a hard heart. I travelled much in this forty passages all giving their obvious condition, thinking every preacher a suffrages in favour of baptism on a pro- ; true preacher but myself ; nor had I fession of repentance and faith. These any confidence in the light I had upon passages spoke to my conscience, and scripture. I considered everybody to convinced me of the necessity of obedi- be before myself, and was frequently ence to the baptism ordained by Christ, tortured with fears that I was still a who called upon me to give him personal graceless man. I have since seen God's obedience ; when, after some contest goodness in all this, for thus was I kept between flesh and spirit, obedience and from falling in love with my own gifts,