December 3, 2013 · 7:09 AM
Baptists preceded the Reformation
1847 – Thomas Rees Davies, the Welsh Baptist pastor, known as “Old Black Cap”, because he wore a velvet cap in the pulpit, provided a great verbal description of himself in a letter he wrote to a deacon in London, who was to meet him at the train. He wrote, “At Euston Station…about nine in the evening, expect the arrival of a gray-haired old man; very tall, like the ancient Britons, and without an outward blemish, but a Jewish high-priest. Like Elijah, he will wear a mantle, not shaggy, but superfine, and like Jacob, he will have a staff in his hand, but will not be lame, it is hoped. But most especially, he will have a white string in his hat, fastened to his coat button. There will be many there with black strings, but his will be white. Let the friend ask, ‘Are you Davies?’ and his answer will be, ‘Yes.’” Baptists in Wales preceded the Reformation. The Venerable Bede (673-735) wrote, in his work, that Welshmen followed the Bible only and opposed the superstitions of Rome. It is clear that there were those who held Baptist convictions in Wales at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The first Baptist church in Wales after the Reformation was formed at Ilston, near Swansea, in Glamorganshire, in 1649. Wales has also had a great influence in America by sending entire congregations to our shores. Christmas Evans was one of the greatest of their preachers, so named, because he was born on Christmas day. When Davies started his last preaching tour and sensed that his days were few he said that he wanted to be buried in the same grave with Evans. He preached on July 22, 1859, died on Sunday the 24th, and was buried in Evans tomb.
[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 661-62. Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists (New York: Bryan, Taylor, and Co., 1887), pp. 599-600.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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Tagged as Baptist history, Britons, christmas evans, deacon, Elijah, pastor, pulpit, Reformation, the Reformation, Thomas Armitage, Thomas Rees Davies, Welsh, Welsh Baptist
July 19, 2013 · 11:17 AM
They named him “Christmas”
Perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher that Great Britain ever produced was the Welsh preacher Christmas Evans. Born on Christmas Day 1766 into an impoverished home, he lost his father when only nine years old, and spent the next few years with a disreputable uncle. When he was 15 he still couldn’t read but when he was 18 he was converted and joined the Presbyterians. He was six feet tall and His very presence spoke of leadership and they urged him to preach. The development of his untrained mind is an amazing story. He learned to read his Welsh Bible in one month. He read every book in the scant local libraries. “He became skilled in Hebrew, Greek and English.” With a desire to expose the Anabaptists, he studied the New Testament carefully and came to the conclusion that there were no verses that taught infant sprinkling and at least forty for baptism on profession of faith. In 1788 Christmas was immersed in the River Duar by the Rev. Timothy Thomas. He began a pastoral ministry until he was called to the Isle of Anglesea in 1791. There were two chapels and 8 preaching stations. Spiritual deadness prevailed when he began his 35 year ministry. In a short time the Isle was revived, and by 1826 the preaching stations multiplied to scores, and 28 preachers flooded the Isle with the message of grace. He traveled to Velin Voel for an associational meeting in 1794. After two ministers had addressed the assembly in the heat of the open air, Christmas Evans was asked to speak. He spoke for 3 hours on the Demoniac of Gadara. This became his landmark sermon. He lost an eye early in life but the one eye it was said was like a brilliant star, it shined like Venus. On his death bed, he waved his hand as if with Elijah in the chariot of fire, and cried the words of an old Welsh hymn: “Wheel about, coachman, drive on!”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 295-97.
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Tagged as anabaptists, Baptist history, baptist preacher, chariot of fire, christmas, christmas evans, converted, disreputable uncle, Great Britain, Greek, Hebrew, preacher, Presbyterians, profession of faith, Welsh, welsh bible, welsh hymn