MEMOIR OF JOHN EVANS,
(late of Clunbury Hill, Ludlow circuit.)
John Evans was born Dec. 28, 1759, at Easthope, Salop; was brought up in neglect of religion, became hardened in sin, and a stranger to the way of peace till the year 1809. The Wesleyans visiting those parts, his wife attended on their ministry, became a steady pious member through life, and finally died in the Lord.
When his wife set out for heaven he opposed her much; but she was steadfast as a wall of brass. Her firmness had a great effect on his mind; and one day whilst at work, a thought crossed his mind, “If Mary be going to heaven, I should like to go there also.” He followed her to a preaching, where he crept behind the door from a fear of being seen by his companions. The Lord’s two-edged sword pierced his heart, he attended diligently the means of grace, and set himself with all his might to obtain salvation by the deeds of the law. But seeking it not by faith, his burden, for two years, seemed to increase. He found that by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified; and his cry was, ‘Oh! that I could find him of whom Moses and the prophets did write!’
One evening, while musing at home on his present state, having been disappointed of attending a meeting to which he had looked with hope, he said within himself, “Is not the Lord both able and willing to speak peace to my soul, at this time, and in this place?” He felt encouraged, pressed on believing, was enabled to cast his soul on the Atonement; and by the eye of faith, saw his Saviour, with a look of benignity, holding out a glittering crown; which crown he never after lost sight of.
He grew strong in faith, as was evidenced on many occasions. His wife being at one time taken ill, medical aid was tried without effect, she grew worse and worse, until her life was despaired of. He, smiling on her, said, “Mary, the Lord can remove your pain. Let us try what prayer can do in this case.” And before he rose from his knees, she cried out, “The Lord has healed me. O, let us praise him together.”
Mary, a short time before her departure, was brought into great heaviness, and was much tempted. The struggle was great and painful. He, however, pressed forward, urging the promises with a confidence which astonished his daughter, who is a zealous local preacher on our plan. By faith satan was defeated, and fled; and the shouts of halleluia and glory burst from his lips.
Others when in distress have felt the happy effects of his believing prayers.
In 1827, he united with the P. M. society, and soon became a class leader. And as a leader he was faithful, zealous, and affectionate. He felt the responsibility, and often travailed in birth for souls. If any walked disorderly, he felt much before the Lord; and has often been seen to weep copiously on their account.
His great love to the cause was manifested by diligent attendance on the means of grace, and by giving to its support to the utmost of his ability. When Bro. H. Bourne preached at the opening of Twitchen chapel, be was unable to attend; but he sent by his daughter the only shilling he had; saying with a smile, “It’s all I have, and the Lord must provide for my next wants.” Shortly after, a friend sent him half-a-crown, and he cried out, “The new chapel shall have another shilling.”
As a Christian he was remarkably circumspect, his walk and conversation were such as became the gospel; insomuch that among all who knew him, it was a saying, “John Evans is a good man.”
June 16, 1837, he was taken ill whilst at work, and it was with difficulty he got home. Medical aid was obtained, but in vain. God was about to place on his head the long-expected crown. About four o’clock the same day he was enabled to get up; and he conversed freely on the things of God.
It was said to him, “You are a great sufferer, but yet seem happy in the midst of it all.” He said, “Look happy! So I ought, for I feel happy; – and why should I not? for these afflictions are but for a moment; and they work out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Many such expressions dropped from his lips.
On Sunday morning his voice was so altered that it was with difficulty he could be understood. Many of the friends called to see him. He grew weaker and weaker, but was unspeakably happy. About four o’clock in the afternoon, without a single groan, he changed mortality for life.
Oh! may we follow him so as to meet where parting is no more, is the prayer of the writer.
(Approved by the Circuit Committee.)
Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1838. Pages 144-145.
Transcribed by David Tonks