John Elias (1774-1841)Preacher
When writing any biography it is useful to start with the background of the country in which the subject lived. As I have written about several Welsh men of God, I have written a summary of the religious state of Wales under ‘Revivals – Wales’ on this website.
John Elias was born on May 6th, 1774 at Crynllwynbach farm, in the parish of Aberch, four miles from Pwllheli on the LleynPeninsula. His father was a farmer and weaver, like his father before him. He was from humble, yet comfortable circumstances. Elias was always grateful to his religious and moral grandfather, for taking an interest in him and having him brought up in the way of duty, morality and religion. This upbringing kept Elias away from the usual vices and follies of youth. “He would set before me, when capable of understanding it, the evil and danger of using bad words, lying and swearing, and taking God’s name in vain; also of breaking the Sabbath. He would moreover teach me to respect and honour the worship of God.”
His grandfather was an Anglican, and he took Elias to church as soon as he could walk the few miles distance. He taught his grandson how to read Welsh when Elias was four or five and he had read from Genesis to the middle of Jeremiah by the time he was seven. Much of his thought was on godly matters, even as a child and he had frightening dreams about Judgement Day and about going to hell; something he would later preach about with great clarity. He was very conscious of doing wrong, and if he thought he had done something he shouldn’t, he would be very distressed and might cry and get out of bed to pray.
At seven Elias had a bad case of smallpox and was in danger of dying. He lost his memory for some days and was blind for two weeks, but he recovered, although it affected him for three or four years. Sometimes he would go and play with children on Sunday evening, but he would feel such guilt about doing this that he could not say the Lord’s Prayer and he found difficulty sleeping. So even at an early age Elias wanted to follow God’s laws, but felt terrible guilt if he transgressed in any way. Holy Spirit had hold of him and was teaching him to hate sin and love righteousness. He realised that he had to keep Sunday holy, but his parents used to be involved in worldly occupations on Sundays and this grieved him so much that he often cried. However he wrote, “Notwithstanding this I was ignorant of God and the way of salvation.”
When still a boy, Elias wanted to go to hear the Methodist preacher who used to preach nearby, so he asked his grandfather to take him. They went to Pentref uchaf one day and had to wait ages for the preacher to arrive. His grandfather was distressed that so many people were loitering about wasting their time while they waited for the preacher, so he told Elias to go into the pulpit and read from the Bible, as to hear a boy read well in those days was a wonderful thing. He obeyed, and while he was reading the preacher arrived; and he came down from the pulpit as fast as he could. Elias became more practised at reading the Bible in public and on Sundays used to teach other children how to read. His grandfather was sick for quite a while before he died, so the young Elias would go to church on his own, hungry to hear the Word of God and yet not really understanding a lot of what was said. When a popular preacher was speaking in the area he might walk ten miles to hear him speak, then go with him to the next place and then the next place, before coming home.
Elias would try to find good books to read but there were very few in Welsh at that time; one book he valued was by Griffith Jones (see this website), however life was a struggle. He writes, “I experienced a great inward conflict from 14 to 16 rears old. The corruption of my heart, I found exceedingly alive and stirring. As religious impressions were wakened in my heart, there was a strong inclination to become light and trifling, like my contemporaries. But the Lord was pleased, out of infinite compassion, to deliver and save me, so that the corruptions of my heart did not overcome me, nor break out in open transgressions.”
On the way back from hearing sermons, he would discuss them with some Calvinistic Methodists on the road and in this way he increased his understanding. It crossed his mind to join one of their societies that met to encourage one another and to ensure that each person was walking a godly path, but he was afraid that he might backslide as he was not properly saved and he would rather have died outside the church than be a backslider in it, so he held back. He felt this for three years, “sometimes I would go out to the fields to pray and to lament, on the day the society met. But I always failed in forming the resolution of seeking admittance among them; I feared that I had not experienced conviction of sin, though I saw myself a great and lost sinner; yet I did not feel brokenness of heart, self loathing, and godly sorrow, corresponding with that view.”
If his grandfather had been alive or if he had had a close Christian friend; maybe things would have been different.
By the time he was 17 Elias was beginning to think about making a trip to hear Daniel Rowland (see this website) speak. He had long heard about this great man from his grandfather and others, but it was a 70 mile journey to Llangeitho to hear him and Elias knew he had to be strong to make the journey. He thought that he would receive a particular blessing from Rowland so he was terribly upset when he heard a preacher announce his death.
The following year he had a particular desire to go the Bala Association meeting. An Association was organised by the Methodists and thousands would come from all around to hear maybe eight or nine great preachers preach in the open air all in one day. It was a very religious occasion, but it was also in a way an entertainment as there were no theatres, sporting stadiums or horse racing at this time. Bala was where Thomas Charles (see this website) was ministering. Some young Christians allowed Elias to go with them. They met at Pwllheli and from there linked up with many other young people at Lleyn a few miles away. For the last two years Christmas Evans (see this website) had been ministering powerfully in Lleyn and much of the area had been stirred up. It is surprising that Elias does not mention Evans in his autobiography; because with his hunger; one would have thought that he would have gone to hear him speak, even though he was a Baptist, as he was only about ten miles away.
This group of young people headed off to Bala, stopping on the way to hear several sermons. They would discuss scriptures and sermons, they would sing hymns and psalms and sometimes they would pray. They were all of one mind and were focused on the things of God. Elias remembered, “When we came there we observed crowds from different places, meeting together, and the whole multitude appearing as persons of one mind, and engaged in the same all important business.”
It must have been very exciting for the young Elias; he would never have been so far from home (40 miles), nor would he ever have seen so many people in one place before. The meetings were full of the Fire and Glory of God and Elias went home with his new friends, rejoicing and singing. He was determined now to join his new friends in fellowship.
Soon after the trip to Bala Elias recounts being touched by God. “A passage from the Scriptures struck me one day in a remarkable manner and on a certain spot on my way to Pwllheli which I recollect well. …the expression came into my mind with some new light and power, quite strange to me. O! my soul had such enjoyment on this subject, namely, that ‘God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.’ .. The doctrine of justification has been since that time, of infinite importance in my estimation.”
He was so excited by this that he wanted to go and preach it everywhere, but realised that he could not do this as he was not yet a member of a church. Elias was desperate to have fellowship with religious people, so he asked his parents if he could apply for a position as a farm hand with a Methodist preacher who was a farmer. His parents reluctantly allowed him to apply and he got the job. Pen-y-morfa was 14 miles away and he lived there under the care of the Methodist family. They would often talk on religious matters and would ask him why he was not in a church, but they never pressed him. One day in September 1793 they told Elias that they were going to the society meeting and he could come if he wanted to. He decided to go and followed them “weeping and trembling”
to the society at Hendre Howell. “I was afraid the preachers would examine me very minutely, and that upon finding my experiences unsatisfactory, they would not receive me among them: but they, to my great astonishment, were very kind to me; I was received into the society, for which I longed for many years; and had often feared I should never obtain a place in the house of God!”
For some time he feared that he would backslide and cause a terrible scandal, but slowly these fears subsided until eventually they disappeared.
Elias records, “There were very serious people at Hendre Howel, the community where I was admitted a member. They were humble minded, self-denying and broken hearted Christians. They valued and loved the Lord Jesus greatly, and they were very glad to speak of His excellencies. I enjoyed great privileges, benefit and pleasure among them.”
He was asked to teach at the night school that took place in different houses each evening and he was asked to read from the Bible at prayer meetings. One day an old man asked him to give a talk on the chapter he had read, and from then on Elias wanted to become a preacher. Soon after that a preacher failed to show up, so Elias was asked to preach and after that he was gradually led into the work of a regular preacher. He had a fire in him that made him speak of ‘justification by faith’ to his friends, family and even people he met on the road. He went into this work with great humility, not wanting to be presumptuous. As we have seen in his fears about not being good enough for the church; humility was part of his character. He did not want fame or admiration, he just wanted to lead sinners to Jesus and God can use a man like that. Elias was encouraged by the elders and other preachers to develop his gift; they recognised what he had in him and they helped him. I wish more pastors today would do this for their people; not just help potential preachers, but help in the development of the potential in all the people in their congregations.
It was the custom of the Methodists that you could not be a ‘preacher’ until you were examined by the monthly and quarterly meetings. He was encouraged by his friends to go for examination at the next monthly meeting at Brynyrodyn on Christmas Day 1794. Again he went in fear and trepidation in case he was condemned by his presumption. He was examined on, “my convictions and apprehensions as to my lost state, and my dying to the law; and also my views of the plan of redemption, my experience of salvation by Christ, and of the gracious operations of His Spirit in my heart.”
To his surprise they gave him permission to preach on Sundays wherever he was invited.
Elias was much in demand because, according to him, people wanted to hear such a young man preach, but I doubt if that could have been the only reason; he had strong talents as a preacher and Holy Spirit must have been powerfully on him as well. He travelled many miles to preach on Sunday and, in fact, was remonstrated for travelling so far out of his area. Someone remembered around this time Elias opening the quarterly Association at Llanfaircaereinion in prayer. He recalls that the power in his prayers were so great that, “all around me were in tears as well as myself; indeed we trembled as if we were going to appear before the Judgement Seat of Christ.”
The demand for his services increased and his popularity grew. His words stuck fast to the hearts of his hearers; they were like sharp arrows, until the vast congregation was overwhelmed and their eyes were full of tears, and many would cry out ‘what shall we do to be saved?’ Some even began to say that Elias was a greater preacher than Howel Harris (see this website.)
Around this time his reputation had spread to South Wales and two ministers were sent to the Bala Association to persuade him to come down to preach in the South. On arriving they met with one of the senior preachers and asked if it was alright to ask Elias to come south; but they were asked not to, because the leaders were waiting to see how the Lord would use him. They were protecting him so that one so young would not be puffed up with pride owing to his popularity. It was probably this same desire to keep him humble that led to the leadership to refuse him permission to go to Manchester to learn English for six months. Elias had a strong yearning to learn so that he might be more useful in the ministry; to make up for the lack of schooling as a child. Shortly afterwards he was given permission to study under a minister in Caernarvon; where he studied hard for a few months and learned some English. The minister recounted later that he never had anyone under his care who was so hungry to learn or so adept at acquiring languages as Elias. All his life he wanted to gain more knowledge. He learned something of Hebrew and Greek, Ancient history and Eastern customs, astronomy and medicine, and of course literature and religious works.
In 1799 Elias was asked to go and minister in Anglesey; an island, 29 miles long and 22 miles wide. His biographer talks about the great corruption and immorality that was all over the island and particularly highlights sex before marriage, drunkenness and wrecking ships on the coast. It was also the centre for Druidism. I am a little confused by the strong line taken by Morgan over this, because Christmas Evans had been ministering very powerfully in Anglesey for seven years by the time Elias arrived; his ministry must have had some affect on the community. It is amazing that this small area of Wales was blessed by two giants of their time. From the biographies I have read of Elias and Evans there is no discussion of how their ministries related to one another. Morgan says that Elias’ ‘preaching became the most attracting in the island
’ and does not even mention Evans, who some believe was the greatest preacher that Wales has ever produced. They laboured together in the same area for over 25 years, and yet the only mention of them being to together that I can find is that they enjoyed listening to one another preach. Anglesey is not very big and several local revivals hit the island in their time. Even though the revivals were in different denominations; would they not have spilled over into other churches? The big difference in their ministries is Evans spent a lot of time pastoring as well as preaching, whereas Elias was just an itinerant preacher. Amongst Methodists the pastoring was done by the elders within their weekly societies; leaving the itinerant preachers to concentrate on what they were gifted in.
Elias reported that on his arriving in Anglesey there were few chapels and few societies, but there were some very godly people in them and Holy Spirit was with them. His presence there through his energy, enthusiasm and talents stirred up these people so that they became more useful to the Body of Christ. As a result the chapels were strengthened and expanded and the society on the island began to change. He preached in the evenings as well as on Sunday, mostly in houses, as chapels were so few. He recalls, “Many I believe were saved by God through His infinite Mercy. I used to preach often to a great concourse of people, even in solitary places, such as the side of a mountain, sea shore and the way side.”
At the end of his ministry in Anglesey he looked back on the 40 years there and noted that 44 chapels had been built in that time and some of them were large. It is interesting to compare the huge difficulty Christmas Evans had to finance the building of Baptist chapels in Anglesey with Elias’s comparative ease.
In February 1799 Elias married Elizabeth and they settled in Llanfechell where she lived. He had spent much time in praying for the right wife and the Lord gave him a pious and conscientious woman. They had four children, only two survived infancy. His son and daughter were brought up in a disciplined, godly way; with Elias taking a lot of time to ensure that they had the right Christian education. It appears that he had a blessed marriage and a happy family. In the early years of his marriage he was worried about their finances, for he only had a small shop selling general goods. He was concerned that he might not be able to pay his debts and God would be dishonoured by his witness. However, God answered his prayers and they got by. Despite their lowly situation, they would entertain visiting preachers and still look after the destitute when they came for help. After a few years their business improved and they were able to live comfortably enough.
He had no time to read or to study because of the time the business took up, so his wife took over much of the business work to free him for his ministry. She had therefore the home, the business and the children to look after and she did an exceptional job. Their son wrote, “My mother endeavoured to take all the cares of the house and business on herself, so that father’s mind should not be disturbed. She would not give way to any consideration to slacken her exertions, but would significantly waive her hand, saying ‘his concerns are far more important than those of the shop.’ Her labours in the world were exertions for the Gospel. This was her language in the midst of her business, ‘Behold thy handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the minister of my God.’”
In her final illness in 1828 she overheard her children talking about calling their father back from a ministry trip as they were worried about their mother’s health. She told them, “No, by no means; for what is my life to the cause he is engaged in.”
A remarkable woman.
Like the other preachers in Wales at that time, Elias was exposed to hard conditions while travelling. He would travel many miles in the cold of winter on bad roads and sometimes over wild and dangerous terrain. Add to this the great exertions that he carried out to further the Gospel, and his health would suffer from time to time.
Although persecution was much reduced compared with fifty years earlier, there was still some opposition from a few members of the clergy and from a few individuals. There were also still some dangerous places left in Wales, where preachers might fear to tread. One of these was Rhuddlan in Denbighshire. That place had a very bad reputation, particularly for all sorts of activities on Sundays. Elias was determined to go there and confront the situation, even though several people advised against it. He decided to go one Sunday, when there was an agricultural fair where scythes, hooks and other tools of the harvest were sold. There was a real concern that if the people objected to the message Elias might be attacked, and with people wielding these implements he might get hurt. He spoke from the steps of the New Inn, telling the people how wrong it was to work, drink etc on a Sunday. To begin with there was much opposition and contention, but people who were there said that there was a great anointing on his words and people were very impacted. He spoke with passion saying, “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.”
The people began to look guilty and miserable and many put down their scythes etc. As a result of his preaching the fair never again took place on a Sunday and there was a change of attitude throughout the region. Several were converted during that sermon. “One man was so alarmed by hearing the awful things that Elias said of Sabbath-breakers, that on his way home he imagined that his arm on which the hook rested, was really withered; consequently the instrument fell to the ground, he feared taking it up lest the other arm should be disabled.”
This man was converted that Sunday.
The Lord used Elias in several instances to change the habits of society; particularly with regard to Sabbath breaking. On one occasion there were some horse races in the area and on the day of the great race Elias prayed passionately that the Lord would intervene in some way. There came a torrential downpour that lasted the whole day until five o’clock. The races were cancelled and did not reassemble again that year. The rain was only reported in that local area.
Elias was clearly a powerful preacher. His biographer, who was probably a little biased in his favour, states that, “Even Whitefield and Rowland, were not, perhaps, endowed with greater skill in attacking, overawing, and overwhelming a congregation… He was argumentative as well as zealous and powerful…Though he was perhaps more philosophical in his discourses than his predecessors, yet he possessed the art of spiritual painting, and representing things with new and vivid colours, as much as any of them.”
It is difficult to compare preachers from different ages, because the congregations were different. In the days of Rowland and Harris the people were uneducated in most matters, but in Elias’ time many understood religious matters and therefore the preaching was much more discursive. Elias was very intelligent and this came out in his sermons, although he kept his style simple, plain and clear. He would spend a lot of time preparing his sermon, even later in life when he had preached thousands of times. He did this because once, after finishing a sermon, he was unexpectedly asked to preach again. Relying on his powers of extemporisation he preached again, but felt that he completely failed. As a result of this experience he promised God that he would always fully prepare before speaking to His precious people. From Elias’ own writings he relied on Holy Spirit to guide him in his preparation, and he was grateful for the deep insights into the Bible that he was given. He wrote notes and then relied on Holy Spirit to give him the words to say. His knowledge on many subjects would surprise people. His descriptive powers of events in the Bible, particularly occasions like Judgement Day; brought the whole scene vividly to mind; much, I would suppose, as Christmas Evans did. One minister commented, “Elias’ method of making an impression on the mind of his hearers, was peculiarly figurative, especially when he was handling some weighty subject. He would at times suddenly say, ‘Stop! Silence! What are they saying in heaven on the subject?’ It seemed to bring them to the very precincts of glory! The effect was often thrilling.”
If you want to know more, the biography from which I am writing goes into a lot of detail about Elias’ preaching.
Morgan was talking with Christmas Evans in 1836 about the wonderful way Elias’ delivered his sermons and Evans commented that, “He has acquired the art of regulating his voice.”
On being asked if this was true, Elias said that Thomas Charles of Bala had taught him how to do it. He had a presence about him that gave him to have the appearance of command and authority when in the pulpit. When he was preaching at Brecon, a body of French prisoners were brought to the place where he was speaking, and although they could not understand a word because he nearly always spoke in Welsh, they were very impressed by his bearing and the way he spoke. One minister described his preaching as, “all eloquence
.” Elias clearly had a power over his audience; they were generally enwrapped in whatever he was speaking about.
One of the places where Elias displayed his talents was at the Association meetings. These were started by Howell Harris and Daniel Rowland as a place where the leaders of the Calvinistic Methodists could get together to discuss issues and encourage one another. As already mentioned, it was also a place where great preachers of the day would show off their gifts and people from all denominations would gather from all over the Principality to hear them. There were often up to 20,000 attending the meetings, so the preaching was always outside in a field that had been prepared for the purpose. A minister beautifully describes the scene at one of these meetings before Elias is due to speak, having commented that there was a good preacher on the stage, but still there were many in the town going about their business. “But just as the fluent precursor of Elias concludes his address, there is a perceptible change in the scene. A general stir ensues, the town pours forth some additional multitudes, consisting not only of tradesmen and common people, but also of ladies and gentlemen. The occupants of the several vehicles begin to gaze towards a certain spot, and to place themselves in the most favourable position. The loungers, from the heights and hedges, eagerly approach the main body; and now the whole irregular groups are consolidated into one common mass of rational beings. The grand focus, where the innumerable angles of vision all concentrate, is the stage; and just now the looked for individual makes his appearance at the stage-desk. In stature he is somewhat tall, slender and of dark complexion; having high cheek bones, discoloured teeth, considerably exposed when his mouth was opened, - his eyes animated and expressive, his posture erect, bold and commanding. He had naturally a serene and placid countenance, indicating true Christian meekness and humility.”
The grandson of Charles of Bala (see this website) writes the following about Elias. “As a preacher he was powerful and persuasive. He simplified everything, and set all truths forth in their clearest light, so that a child could understand him. His sermons invariably reached the heart. In all my journeys through Wales, I have not heard of any one minister whose preaching has been so universally blessed to the conversion of sinners, as that of John Elias. In almost every country place, village or town, you can find some person who will ascribe his conversion to one of his sermons. This I have witnessed in very many cases.”
He continued in his letter that Elias was above every preacher of his time. He remembers sermons as a boy that he still remembered decades later. An old friend of Elias, who had fallen out with him, heard him speak at an Association in Cardigan. He was so overwhelmed by what he heard that he went up to Elias at the end of the sermon and said to him, “My dear old friend, I greatly love you as an honoured minister of God: how sweet, delightful and precious, are these truths of the Gospel you have been preaching: they are the old, grand truths; they will uphold, satisfy and gladden our souls for ever.”
Elias was always worried that his popularity would make him proud and conceited. This was very wise because people would lift preachers up to great heights; they were the football celebrities of nineteenth century Wales. There was a significant danger that people would go and see the performance rather than hear the Word of God. Indeed Elias has been compared to the great orator of ancient Greece, Demosthenes. Oratory in Greece was an art that many people aspired to and it would later develop into a performance. It was far more the artistic performance that people admired, than what was actually said. It is far more important that one learns to preach in the power of Holy Spirit than worrying about form and style. For a gifted person it is not difficult to manipulate the congregation into tears, but that means nothing unless Holy Spirit is at the centre of it. Elias had this gift. When he was only twenty a popular preacher, David Cadwalladr, heard him speak and said, “God help that lad to speak the truth, for he’ll make the people believe, - he’ll make the people believe whatever he says.”
However, the Lord kept Elias humble, he did not get puffed up as a result of the adulation and expectations of the crowds. He would focus more on his lack of success with those who did not come to the Lord in his meetings, than on those who did. He would often remember that John Newton (see this website) would warn ministers that Satan would target them specifically, so they had to be watchful and humble.
He had such a passion to see people saved and this zeal was very evident in his preaching. It was this same zeal that drove him to travel around the whole country, to bring the good news of the Gospel to the lost. He was always wanting to see more of Holy Spirit; realising that nothing could be done without His presence and power. He would bewail the lukewarm state of the Church, even though Wales enjoyed such blessing from revivals. He spoke out repeatedly against immorality in Anglesey and Wales and saw some changes come as a result of his ministry in this area. Elias was used on several occasions to bring revival to an area. He lived in a time of revival in Wales; scarcely a year would go by without revival appearing somewhere in Wales.
I am very grateful to Geraint Jones who has made available to me his so far unpublished work on his history of Welsh Revivals from 1762-1862. He has tried to record every known revival during those years. As far as Anglesey is concerned, there were a couple of local revivals in the 1770’s, so the island could not have been completely corrupt and immoral, but the next revival was not until 1800-1802 under the ministry of Elias at Llanrhyddlad. The next revival was in 1811-1812 at Rhosybol, again amongst the Calvinistic Methodists, and there was another 1813-1814 at Talwrn where 60 were added to the church. Revival finally came to the Baptists in 1814 at Llangefni while Evans was away in the south. Evans reports “In the year 1814, a very pleasing revival took place in the church of Ebenezer, when eighty members were added in the course of a few months! The Lord was pleased, out of the abundance of His mercy, after much wrestling in prayer, and ardent longings after the enjoyment of divine influence, to bestow upon us the dew from heaven; which occasioned great awakenings, conviction, and concern to take place among the people throughout many neighbourhoods in Anglesey
.” In the two years of the revival 600 were added to the Baptist churches of Anglesey. Revival began again in 1821 amongst the youth at Bethel. In 1822 the revival became more general; mainly amongst the Calvinistic Methodists but other denominations were also touched. The Sunday School at Bethel grew from 40 to 200. This was the year of a wonderful Association at Llangefni where Elias preached very powerfully. Many were moved to rejoicing and such a sight was never before seen in Anglesey. Amlwch was also touched, with 170 being added to the church in that year. In a letter Elias wrote, “Very wild and hardened sinners are alarmed and converted; multitudes are made willing in the day of Christ’s power. I have had the privilege of receiving hundreds into church communion. I received one hundred at once in a certain place; in another place fifty, in another thirty, and in another thirty, and many in several other places. Besides, other ministers have received a great many into the church.”
An instance of the powerful way Elias was used was at the 1831 Pwllheli Association meeting. He took his text from Psalm 68:1, ‘Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered.’ He preached that day with tremendous power and as he spoke large numbers of people fell to the ground. His words were as flames of fire and that fire went out through the neighbourhood with around 2,500 giving their lives to the Lord.
Elias was a strong supporter of Charles of Bala and the Bible Society and after his death Elias was the main advocate in North Wales for this Society. He would defend it from attack, raise funds for it and attend many branch meetings. His work was rewarded with his being made an Honorary Governor for life. He also worked tirelessly for the London Missionary Society, the Temperance movement and the Sunday Schools.
In 1830 he married a Lady Buckeley and moved to Fron near Llangefni. His new wife was kind, pious and affectionate. She had an ample fortune, so he was able to live very comfortably. Elias relied on prayer for everything and his whole life was aimed at doing the will of God. He was always ready to pour out advice to anyone who needed it. His character, in summary, was one that reflects the time he spent in communion with his Lord. He was strong on unity and he enjoyed relationships with many ministers of different denominations. He was also very supportive of the established Church of England and would advise young ministers to remain in the Church and continue to pay tithes.
Elias was never truly well again after he fell from a carriage onto his head in 1832. It took several months for him to recover, but he was left with a nervous complaint, occasional giddiness and a stiff hand that restricted his writing. His final illness began after speaking at the Association at Llanerchymedd in 1840. A friend who often visited Elias in his last days said, “The state of Elias’ mind is very comfortable, and at times even ecstatic. One night when in great pain, he felt so happy, that he thought he was in heaven.”
He was confined to bed for the last three months of his life. He was so aware of his unworthiness and wished that he had done more for his Saviour. He died in June 1841. There was a funeral procession from Fron to Beaumaris, which at its end numbered about 10,000. All vessels in the port had their flags at half mast; every shop in the town was closed and all the blinds of the houses were down.
John Elias was a great man. He achieved much because he kept close to the source of life and always tried to do his Lord’s will.
This biography was taken from ‘The Reverend John Elias’ by the Rev E. Morgan, published in 1844.