John Elias

1774-1841. Regarded by many as the greatest of all Welsh preachers, he was born John Jones, but adopted his grandfather's name out of respect for the spiritual nurture he had received from him. His only formal education was at a private school in his native Caernarvonshire. He was ordained a Calvinistic Methodist* minister in 1811. Although his published sermons are somewhat laborious, his power as a preacher was extraordinary. He had an overwhelming conviction of the truth and efficacy of the Gospel as a means of salvation, and of the inerrancy of Scripture. There was an intense seriousness in his preaching, and never a suggestion of humor. His voice was haunting and powerful; his finger stretched in accusation or raised in warning brought mockers to their knees. In theology he was an unreserved Calvinist and opposed with great determination the tendency to flirt with “Modern Calvinism,” still less with Arminianism.

After the death of Thomas Jones* he was the unchallenged leader of the Calvinistic Methodists. He was a man of indomitable will and unyielding principle, and this produced a kind of autocracy which many younger men-and some of his contemporaries-resented. In political matters too he was a bitter critic of the radicalism that was emerging among Welsh nonconformists. He was a constitutionalist of the old school, with a decided bias in favor of Toryism. On the other hand, he was energetic in his promotion of moral virtue and social betterment. This, however, did not prevent his being nicknamed “the Anglesey Pope” because of his hostility to democratic agitation and Catholic emancipation. Even so, his influence as a preacher far exceeded that of any of his contemporaries, and the legend of his miraculous eloquence in the cause of the Gospel has not died away even yet in Wales.

See E. Morgan, Memoir (1844), and Letters, Essays...of...John Elias (1847).