Christman Evans was born at Ysgarwen, South Wales, on the 25th of December, 1766. The date of his birth accounts for his unusual Christian name. His parents were very poor, and he was brought up in an environment of vice, ignorance and unkind treatment, and did not learn to read until he was eighteen years of age. At eighteen he experienced a spiritual awakening, and became a member of the Arminian Presbyterians. His desire to know the Bible was the stimulus which moved him to learn to read. He now began to exercise his gifts in prayer and testimony, but had made little headway in his Christian life when, at the age of twenty-two, he was immersed in the River Duar and became a preacher of the Calvinistic Baptists. The first years of his preaching were marked by periods of doubt and gloom and spiritual dryness. But at length the day came when he received "an unction from on high," and henceforth he preached with great joy and assurance. At the age of forty-six he settled in the Isle of Anglesea, where he remained for twenty years on the salary of seventeen pounds a year. He had several other pastorates in different parts of Wales and in nearly every church had some difficulty or unhappiness. This is reflected in one of the petitions of the quaint covenant he made with God: "Suffer me not to be trodden under the proud feet of members or deacons, for the sake of Thy goodness." He died at Swansea in 1838, the seventy-third year of his age.
Christmas Evans was one of the great natural preachers. Some think that if he had been better educated his power and influence as a preacher would have been much greater than it was. But this is doubtful, for a more formal education might have toned down his imagination and stripped him of that garment of allegory which he wore with such splendid effect. After he once found his stride his popularity never waned, and his wonderful descriptive and pictorial powers were as marked in his old age as in his youth. Evans was six feet tall and had a noble appearance in the pulpit. On one of his early trips to England he was beaten by a mob of ruffians and lost the sight of an eye. But this injury seemed to add to, rather than detract from, the power of his presence, and he was known throughout Wales as "the one-eyed man of Anglesea." Sermons lose greatly in power when they are transferred from the pupit to the printed page, and still more when, as is the case with the sermons of Evans, which were delivered in Welsh, they must be read in a translation. But, not withstanding this handicap, the printed sermons of Evans clearly show the extraordinary power of his preaching.
Reports of the sermon on the Demoniac of Gadara, preached at one of the meetings of the Baptist Association, describe the alternate waves of laughter and weeping which swept like waves over the vast throng, and how the sermon ended with the congregation falling on their knees and calling upon God for mercy. The sermon selected for this volume, "The Triumph of Calvary," shows Evans at his best. It first appeared in the celebrated "Specimens of Welsh Preaching."
[From Clarence Edward McCartney, Great Sermons of the World, 1958, pp. 279-280. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Baptist Biographies
Baptist History Homepage