Revivals, Awakenings, and Misrepresentations

by Richard Riss

During the course of my study of revivals over the past twenty-three years, one of the things that has fascinated me is the extent to which they are misrepresented. These misrepresentations are usually widely believed, creating stumbling blocks which prevent many people from partaking in the forgiveness, love, joy, refreshing, healing, reconciliation, character development, and other benefits which are freely available through a move of God of this kind.

Jonathan Edwards wrote of this phenomenon in connection with the outset of the Great Awakening, which began at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts in December of 1734. In the introductory portion of his FAITHFUL NARRATIVE OF THE SURPRISING WORK OF GOD, he said that the Great Awakening was being "exceedingly misrepresented by reports that were spread . . . [to] distant parts of the land." These reports were spread by other Christians, many of whom were in positions of leadership in the churches. Edwards wrote that, "When this work of God first appeared, and was so extraordinarily carried on among us in the winter, others round about us seemed not to know what to make of it, and there were many that scoffed at and ridiculed it; and some compared what we called conversion to certain distempers." Because people really didn't understand what was happening, they began to say negative things about it.

These bad reports spread throughout the entire country, and this had a lasting effect on peoples' willingness to accept that what was happening was a work of God. He wrote, "A great part of the country have not received the most favorable thoughts of this affair, and to this day many retain a jealousy concerning it, and prejudice against it." Unfortunately, when people begin to become predisposed against something, it is no longer an easy matter for them to benefit from it, and they will sometimes attempt to put a stop to it.

In the concluding remarks of the same work, Edwards referred again to "the innumerable misrepresentations which have gone abroad" concerning the revival that began in his church. He stated that because of this, it had been necessary for him to go into great detail about what God was actually doing within the context of the beginning of what we now know as the Great Awakening.

One of the reasons that people misunderstand revival is that it tends to create a great deal of chaos and disorder. Normal church programs are usually suspended. People are caught up in the things of God. They often fall to the ground or make unusual noises; they weep or laugh or act as though drunk. This was as true for the Great Awakening as it was for any other revival (for details, see my paper "The Manifestations Throughout History.)

During the Second Awakening in America, Charles Finney said some of the same things about misrepresentation of what God was doing. He lamented in his MEMOIRS that "it has been common for good men, in referring to those revivals, to assume that although they were upon the whole, revivals of religion, yet . . . they were so conducted that great disorders were manifest in them, and that there was much to deplore in their results. Now all this is an entire mistake."

This is a very common phenomenon during revivals. People will assume, based upon misleading reports, that there is a great deal of mixture in them and that there is "much to deplore in their results." Yet, one could be a perfect leader and still encounter storms of criticism; this is exactly what happened to Jesus Christ.

A little bit later, Finney wrote, "Until I arrived at Auburn, I was not fully aware of the amount of opposition I was destined to meet from the ministry; not the ministry in the region where I had labored, but from ministers where I had not labored, and who knew personally nothing of me, but were influenced by the false reports which they heard." Finney found it amazing that his critics would believe so many of the reports that they had heard.

However, there is a sense in which this phenomenon is not surprising at all. The spread of false reports and negative attitudes with respect to a work of God is a sure sign that it is genuine, because it indicates that the enemy is at work, attempting to discredit it.

The temptation to belittle the work of God is greatest among those who might have a tendency to feel that they would have something to lose if people were allowed to partake in it. There are strong temptations to jealously even among Christian leaders. Those who yield to such temptations are in danger of undermining the work of God by belittling the very thing that is bringing life and blessing to those who love Him.

God, in His wisdom, has His own reasons for allowing false reports to arise concerning His work. The stumbling blocks will therefore inevitably come, but woe to those through whom the stumbling blocks come.

Written by Richard Riss

Reprinted with Permission of Richard Riss.

The Manifestations Throughout History

St. Louis CATCH THE FIRE Conference, May 3-6, 1995

by Richard M. Riss (This is a link)

Oliver Cromwell was drunken in the spirit and filled with holy laughter just prior to the Battle of Naseby. This was in 1645 during the civil war in Britain that brought about an end to the reign of king Charles I. Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan, and his so-called New Model Army has been described as an army of God-fearing, psalm-singing Puritans. When not fighting, they studied the Bible, prayed, and sang hymns.

Of course, Oliver Cromwell, who eventually became Lord Protector of England, was very, very far from perfect. Even some of his admirers have admitted that his bigoted anti-Catholic and anticlerical stance may have warped his judgment.

Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that the Puritans really suffered during the reigns of James I and Charles I. During that time, The Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud caused so many serious problems for the Puritans, that they eventually began migrating to North America in large numbers, especially from 1628 onward.  But in 1640, there was a majority of Presbyterian Puritans in what has become known as the "Long Parliament," and many reforms were made. The Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Laud were cast into prison. Charles I was furious, and charged the five leaders of the opposition in Parliament with high treason. The House of Commons refused to give them up, so the king decided to use military force against them from new headquarters that he set up in Nottingham, plunging England into civil war.

Oliver Cromwell was originally a Colonel of a troop of cavalry on the side of Parliament during this civil war known as Cromwell's Ironsides, which had so much success that an army of twenty-one thousand men was organized, and patterned after it, called the New Model Army. This army was composed almost entirely of people known as "men of religion." They did not swear or drink, and they advanced to the charge singing psalms.

At the Battle of Naseby, the King's forces were scattered as chaff before the wind, and the king surrendered. It was just prior to this decisive Battle of Naseby that Oliver Cromwell was filled with holy laughter and was drunken in the Spirit.

Here's a quote from George Lavington's book, THE ENTHUSIASM OF METHODISTS AND PAPISTS COMPARED, 2d ed. (London: Printed for J. and P. Knapton in Ludgate-Street, 1749), vol. 2, pp. 72-73:

 I don't remember any of these laughing-fits among Papists. But they were very common among the French Prophets in their agitations.

Mr. Aubrey, in his MISCELLANIES (Page 117), relates the same thing of Oliver Cromwell. "Oliver, says he, had certainly this afflatus. One that was at the Battle of Dunbar told me that Oliver was carried on with a divine impulse: he did laugh so excessively as if he had been drunk. The same fit of laughter seized him just before the battle of Naseby." 'Tis a question undecided, whether Oliver was more of the enthusiast, or the hypocrite: and I presume the fits are no proof of a good cause either in the protector or the Methodist."

In this quotation, Lavington refers to the Methodist cause. This is because, in the section immediately prior to this passage, he discusses the same phenomena among the Methodists under John Wesley. Lavington also states that this was very common among the French Prophets.

 Manifestations and Wesly -1

Although Whitefield influenced John Wesley with respect to open-air preaching, it was Wesley who had originally influenced Whitefield to take another look at the manifestations. He wrote of Whitefield as follows in his Journal on July 7, 1739: I had an opportunity to talk with him of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion; a second trembled exceeding; the third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans; the fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God, with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him.

Nevertheless, when Wesley was exposed to the more cacophonous manifestations at the meetings of the Moravians a few months later, he was shocked. On October 18, 1739, Philip Henry Molther of Germany stopped off in England on his way to America. J. E. Hutton, in A HISTORY OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH, 2d ed. (London, Moravian Publication Office, 1909), p. 296, describes what happened:

 [Molther] set forth his views in extravagant language, which soon filled Wesley with horror. . . . Four times a week, in broken English, he preached to growing crowds. At first he [Wesley] was utterly shocked by what he saw. "The first time I entered the meeting," he says, "I was alarmed and almost terror-stricken at hearing their sighing and groaning, their whining and howling, which strange proceeding they call the demonstration of the Spirit and of power."

Wesley speaks of the manifestations on many occasions throughout his journals, and although at times he attributes some of them to causes other than God, he still speaks favorably of them in most cases. It was at the outset of some of these things that Wesley wasn't always so sure, as we've already seen with respect to the Moravian meetings. Less than a year later, one of the manifestations that worried him was the spirit of laughter: In the evening such a spirit of laughter was among us that many were much offended. But the attention of all was fixed on poor L[ucretia] S[mith], whom we all know to be no dissembler. . . . Most of our brethren and sisters were now fully convinced that those who were under this strange temptation could not help it. Only E[lizabeth] B[rown] and Anne H[olto]n were of another mind, being still sure any one might help laughing if she would. This they declared to many on Thursday; but on Friday the 23rd God suffered Satan to teach them better. Both of them were suddenly seized in the same manner as the rest, and laughed whether they would or no, almost without ceasing. Thus they continued for two< days, a spectacle to all; and were then, upon prayer made for them, delivered in a moment (John Wesley's JOURNAL, June 21, 1740).

In this case, Wesley attributed the laughter to satan, but not all of his contemporaries agreed with this conclusion. In 1749, George Lavington (p. 72) wrote: Though I am not convinced that these fits of laughing are to be ascribed to satan, I entirely agree with Mr. Wesley, that they are involuntary and unavoidable, and don't in the least question the facts. Physical writers tell us, that laughing-fits are one species of a delirium, attending on some distempers and particularly on the hypochondria, or spleen (the principal ingredient of enthusiasm) called by some the organ of laughter, whence laughing people are said to vent their spleen.

In any case, as far as John Wesley was concerned, most of the other manifestations were of God, and he refers to them as such on many occasions in his Journal. Here are some examples: In the evening, I was at St. Ewe. One or two felt the edge of God's sword, and sunk to the ground; and indeed it seemed as if God would suffer none to escape Him; as if He both heard and answered our prayer (August 28, 1755). I preached in a ground adjoining to the house. Toward the conclusion of my sermon, the person with whom I lodged was much offended at one who sunk down and cried aloud for mercy. Herself drooped down next, and cried as loud as her; so did several others quickly after. When prayer was made for them, one was presently filled with peace and joy in believing (July 19, 1757). After a busy and comfortable day, I preached once more in the Castle. The word seemed to sink deep into the hearers, though many of them were of the genteeler sort. In the Society we were much refreshed. Many followed me to Thomas Gl--'s house, where two or three were cut to the heart, particularly both his daughters, and cried to God with strong cries and tears (September 1, 1758). In the evening, while I was enforcing those awful words of the Prophet, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved," a young woman, who had contained herself as long as she could, sunk down and cried aloud. I found this was a new thing in Norwich. The women about her got water and hartshorn in abundance. But all would not do. When the service was ended, I asked her, "What do you want?" She immediately replied, "Nothing but Christ" (January 3, 1760).

Of particular importance to Wesley was the outpouring of the Spirit in Everton during the summer of 1759. The vicar of Everton, John Berridge (1716-1793), had undergone a fresh understanding of justification by faith alone in 1757, and from that moment onward had resolved to preach Jesus Christ and salvation by faith. He had burned all of his old sermons, shedding tears of joy over their destruction. This attracted the attention of the entire neighborhood, and his church soon became crowded whenever he preached. He wrote, "as soon as I preached Jesus Christ, and faith in his blood, then believers were added to the Church continually."

Within a year and a half, John Wesley was on the scene, and what he found made a profound impression on him, to the extent that he made occasional references to it in his Journal throughout the rest of his life. In one of his first references to it (July 29, 1759), he quotes a very long account of the work of God in Everton, probably by John Walsh, who wrote: On Monday, July 9, I set out, and on Wednesday noon reached Potton, where I rejoiced at the account given by John Keeling of himself and others. He was justified, it seems, on that memorable Sabbath, but had not a clear witness of it till ten days after; about which time his sister (who was, on that day, in great distress) was also set at liberty. I discoursed also with Ann Thorn, who told me of much heaviness following the visions with which she had been favored; but said she was at intervals visited still with such overpowering love and joy, especially at the Lord's Supper, that she often lay in a trance for many hours. She is twenty-one years old. We were soon after called into the garden, where Patty Jenkins (one of the same age) was so overwhelmed with the love of God that she sunk down, and appeared as one in a pleasant sleep, only with her eyes open; yet she had often just strength to utter, with a low voice, ejaculations of joy and praise; but, no words coming up to what she felt, she frequently laughed while she saw His glory. . . . June 6, 1759--I spoke this morning, at Orwell, on Isa. 55:1. One who had been before convinced of sin fell down in a kind of fit, and broke out, in great anguish of soul, calling on the Lord Jesus for salvation. He wrought as in the agonies of death, and was quite bathed in sweat. He beat the chair against which he kneeled, as one whose soul drew nigh unto hell. His countenance then cleared up at once . . . Fri. 13.--Mr. R[omaine], as well as Mr. M[adan], was in doubt concerning the work of God here. But this morning they were both fully convinced. . . . We walked this forenoon to Tadlow, in Cambridgeshire, to hear Mr. B[erridge], but came too late for the sermon. However, the account we received of the wonderful works of God in this and the neighboring places was matter of great rejoicing to me, as are all manifestations of the world to come. Sat. 14--Mr. B[erridge], being ill, desired me to exhort a few people in his house, which the Lord enabled me to do with such ease and power that I was quite amazed. The next morning, at seven, his servant, Caleb Price, spoke to about two hundred people. The Lord was wonderfully present, more than twenty persons feeling the arrows of conviction. Several fell to the ground, some of whom seemed dead, others in the agonies of death, the violence of their bodily convulsions exceeding all description. There was also great crying and agonizing in prayer, mixed with deep and deadly groans on every side. . . . A child, seven years old, sees many visions and astonishes the neighbors with her innocent, awful manner of declaring them. While Mr. B[erridge] preached in the church, I stood with many in the churchyard, to make room for those who came from far; therefore I saw little, but heard the agonizing of many, panting and gasping after eternal life. In the afternoon Mr. B[erridge] was constrained, by the multitude of people, to come out of the church and preach in his own close. Some of those who were here pricked to the heart were affected in an astonishing manner. The first man I saw wounded would have dropped, but others, catching him in their arms, did, indeed, prop him up, but were so far from keeping him still that he caused all of them to totter and tremble. His own shaking exceeded that of a cloth in the wind. It seemed as if the Lord came upon him like a giant, taking him by the neck and shaking all his bones in pieces.. . . Another roared and screamed in a more dreadful agony than ever I heard before. . . . Some continued long as if they were dead, but with a calm sweetness in their looks. I saw one who lay two or three hours in the open air, and, being then carried into the house, continued insensible another hour, as if actually dead. The first sign of life she showed was a rapture of praise intermixed with a small, joyous laughter. . . . Tues. 17--We walked toward Harlston, near which Mr. B[erridge] overtook us. He was greatly fatigued and dejected, and said, 'I am now so weak, I must leave off field-preaching.' Nevertheless, he cast himself on the Lord, and stood up to preach, having near three thousand hearers. He was very weak at first, and scarce able to speak; but God soon performed His promise, imparting new strength to him, and causing him to speak with mighty power. A great shaking was among the dry bones. Incessant were the cries, groans, wringing of hands, and prayers of sinners, now first convinced of their deplorable state. . . . Wed. 18--We called at the house where Mr. B[erridge] had been preaching in the morning and found several there rejoicing in God and several mourning after Him. While I prayed with them many crowded into the house, some of whom burst into a strange, involuntary laughter, so that my voice could scarce be heard, and when I strove to speak louder a sudden hoarseness seized me. Then the laughter increased. . . . Thur. 19-- . . . I had left Mr. J[ennin]gs but a little while when I heard John Dennis loudly praising God. I no sooner kneeled by him than the consolations of God came upon me, so that I trembled and wept much. Nor was the Spirit poured out upon us alone; all in the house were partakers of it. J[ohn] D[ennis] was kneeling when his fit came. We laid him on the ground, where he soon became stiff as last night, and prayed in like manner. Afterwards his body grew flexible by degrees, but was convulsed from head to foot. When he was quite recovered he said he was quite resigned to the will of God, who gave him such strength in the inner man that he did not find any of these things grievous, neither could ask to be delivered from them. I looked after service at every ring which the people made about those that fell under the word. Here and there was a place with only one, but there were generally two or three together, and on one spot no less than seven who lay on the ground as if slain in battle. . . . Fri. 20--. . . I was glad to see a woman, supposed the chief sinner in the town, now rolling on the earth, screaming and roaring in strong convictions. . . . From Triplow I walked to Orwell, and thence to Everton, in weakness of body and heaviness of spirit. Mr. B[erridge] was preaching when I came in. Here God again refreshed my soul. I shook from head to foot, while tears of joy ran down my face, and my distress was at an end. . . . Sun. 22--The church was quite filled, and hundreds were without. And now the arrows of God flew abroad. The inexpressible groans, the lamenting, praying, roaring, were so loud, almost without intermission, that we who stood without could scarce help thinking all in the church were cut to the heart. But, upon inquiry, we found about two hundred persons, chiefly, men, cried aloud for mercy; but many more were affected, perhaps as deeply, though in a calmer way.

Probably because of these reports from John Walsh, Wesley decided to go to Everton himself. He arrived there on August 5, 1759, and he wrote of it as follows: Between eight and nine I reached Everton, faint and weary enough. During the prayers, as also during the sermon and the administration of the sacrament, a few persons cried aloud; but it was not from sorrow or fear, but love and joy. The same I observed in several parts of the afternoon service. In the evening I preached in Mr. Hicks's church. Two or three persons fell to the ground, and were extremely convulsed; but none cried out. . . . Mon. 6--. . . I talked largely with Ann Thorn and two others, who had been several times in trances. What they all agreed in was: (1) that when they went away, as they termed it, it was always at the time they were fullest of the love of God; (2) that it came upon them in a moment, without any previous notice, and took away all their sense and strength; (3) that there were some exceptions, but in general, from that moment they were in another world, knowing nothing of what was done or said by all that were round about them. . . . I have generally observed more or less of these outward symptoms to attend the beginning of a general work of God. So it was in New England, Scotland, Holland, Ireland, and many parts of England; but, after a time, they gradually decrease, and the work goes on more quietly and silently. . . . Tues. 28--I rode on to Mr. Berridge's at Everton, and in the evening went to the church; but unusually heavy, and hardly expecting to do any good there. I preached on those words in the Second Lesson, 'We know that we are of God.' One sunk down, and another, and another. Some cried aloud in agony of prayer. I would willingly have spent some time in prayer with them; but my voice failed, so that I was obliged to conclude the service, leaving many in the church crying and praying, but unable either to walk or stand. One young man and one young woman were brought with difficulty to Mr. B[erridge]'s house, and continued there in violent agonies, both of body and soul. When I came into the room the woman lay quiet, wrestling with God in silent prayer. But even the bodily convulsions of the young man were amazing: the heavings of his breast were beyond description--I suppose equal to the throes of a woman in travail. We called upon God to relieve his soul and body, and both were perfectly healed. He rejoiced in God with joy unspeakable, and felt no pain, or weakness, or weariness. Presently after the woman also was delivered, and rose rejoicing in God her Saviour.

During this outpouring of the Spirit in Everton, Lady Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon (1707-1791), sent two envoys to investigate what was happening. She was the patroness of Methodism in her era. After her conversion in 1739, she attended some of John Wesley's meetings and soon began to function as a bishop by virtue of her right as a peeress to appoint Anglican clergymen as household chaplains and assign their duties, and to purchase presentation rights to chapels, enabling her to decide who would conduct services and preach. Among the many chaplains whom she appointed and continued to finance for many decades was George Whitefield. Much later, in 1779, after sixty chapels were already functioning under her auspices, this practice was disallowed by a consistory court of London. But Under the Toleration Act, she was able to register her chapels as dissenting places of worship, which became known as "The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion."

In 1759, she sent two people, including William Romaine (1714-1795), the well-known Calvinist preacher, to investigate what was happening at Everton. Her biographer wrote as follows: It was now [28 Feb. 1759] that John Berridge, the vicar of Everton, in Bedfordshire, and Mr. Hicks, vicar of Wrestlingworth, by their preaching, produced the same convulsions in their hearers as had formerly prevailed at Bristol. Lady Huntingdon wrote to Mr. Romain from Bath, requesting him and Mr. Madan to repair immediately to Everton, and examine minutely into the circumstances. They were warmly received by Mr. Berridge and Mr. Hicks. At first they were astonished, and for a time doubted whether the work was genuine; but after they had conversed with several of those who had fallen into violent convulsive fits, and had accompanied Mr. Berridge and Mr. Hicks in some of their itinerant excursions, and witnessed the effects of their preaching, they were filled with a solemn awe, and felt fully convinced the work was of God, though occasionally mingled with the wild-fire of enthusiasm.

([Seymour, Aaron Crossley Hobart,] THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SELINA COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON, vol. I (London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., stationiers' court: and Painter Strand, 1839), pp. 387-398).

 Continue reading: About Wesly -2

Some of John Wesley's biographers have mistakenly asserted that he was only open to the manifestations in the earliest period of the awakening in England, but then became more and more convinced that they were not of God as the decades went on and the revival matured, deepened and broadened....

Some of John Wesley's biographers have mistakenly asserted that he was only open to the manifestations in the earliest period of the awakening in England, but then became more and more convinced that they were not of God as the decades went on and the revival matured, deepened and broadened. This is actually very far from correct; favorable descriptions of the phenomena can be found in his Journal throughout the remainder of his life. Here are some examples: Hence we rode to Barley, where I preached at one. A middle-aged woman dropped down at my side, and cried aloud for mercy: it was not long before God put a new song in her mouth (January 7, 1762). [Quoting a letter of July 20 from Limerick:] All were in floods of tears: they trembled, they cried, they prayed, they roared aloud; all of them lying on the ground. I began to sing; yet they could not rise, but sang as they lay along(July 28, 1762). At Macclesfield, . . . inquiring how the revival here began, I received the following account:--In March last, after a long season of dryness and barrenness, one Monday night John Oldham preached. When he had done, and was going away, a man fell down, and cried aloud for mercy. In a short time so did several others(August 6, 1762). In the evening the Mayor [of Grimsby] and all the gentry of the town were present; and so was our Lord, in an uncommon manner. Some dropped down as dead, but after a while rejoiced with joy unspeakable. One was carried away in violent fits. I went to her after the service: she was strongly convulsed from head to foot, and shrieked out in a dreadful manner. The unclean spirit did tear her indeed; but his reign was not long. In the morning both her soul and body were healed, and she acknowledged both the justice and mercy of God (April 4, 1764).

I rode over to Montrath, a wild place as most in Ireland, and preached in the shell of a new house, to many more than it would contain. All were quiet and attentive. In the middle of the sermon, a young woman, who was a sinner, endeavored for a while to hide her tears, by creeping behind another, till in a few minutes her strength failed, and she sunk down to the ground. I was sorry they carried her away, otherwise I think she would have soon lifted up her head with joy (June 30, 1769). Last summer the work of God revived, and gradually increased till the end of November. Then God began to make bare his arm in an extraordinary manner. Those who were strangers to God, felt as it were a sword in their bones, constraining them to roar aloud. Those who knew God were filled with joy unspeakable, and were almost equally loud in praise and thanksgiving. . . . A farther account was drawn up by the Leaders:--"On Sunday afternoon, December 1st, as William Hunter was preaching, the power of God fell on the congregation in a wonderful manner. Many, being cut to the heart, cried aloud for mercy. . . . We endeavored to break up the meeting at ten, but the people would not go; so that we were constrained to continue till twelve. Near this time one was asked, 'What he thought of this?' He answered, 'I wish it be all real.' He then turned to go home; but after taking a few steps, began to cry aloud for mercy. He cried till his strength was quite gone, and then lay as one dead till about four o'clock in the morning; then God revealed his Son in his heart. During this meeting, eleven persons found peace with God" (June 5, 1772). I left John Fenwick . . . to examine the Society, one by one. . . . The account of what ensued, he gave in the following words:--"On Saturday evening, God was present through the whole service, but especially toward the conclusion. Then one and another dropped down, till six lay on the ground together, roaring for the disquietude of their hearts. Observing many to be quite amazed at this, I besought them to stand still, and see the salvation of God; but the cry of the distressed soon drowned my voice; so I dismissed the congregation. About half of them went away. I continued praying with the rest, when my voice could be heard; when it could not, I prayed without a voice, till after ten o'clock. In this time, four of those poor mourners were clothed with the robes of praise. . . . Mention was made of four young men, who were affected on the second Wednesday in December. These, hearing of the roaring of the people, came out of mere curiosity. That evening six were wounded and fell to the ground, crying aloud for mercy. One of them, hearing the cry, rushed through the crowd, to see what was the matter. He was no sooner got to the place, than he dropped down himself, and cried as loud as nay. The other three pressing on, one after another, were struck just in the same manner. . . . Edward Farles had been a hearer for many years, but was never convinced of sin. Hearing there was much roaring and crying at the prayer-meetings, he came to hear and see for himself. That evening many cried to God for mercy. He said, he 'wished it was all real,' and went away more prejudiced than before, especially against the 'roarers and criers,' as he called them; but soon after he got home, he was struck to the ground, so distressed, that he was convulsed all over. . . ." Thus far John Fenwick. . . . The work in Wardale resembled that at Everton . . . in the outward symptoms which have attended it. In both, the sudden and violent emotions of mind, whether of fear, or sorrow, of desire or joy, affected the whole bodily frame; insomuch that many trembled exceedingly, many fell to the ground, many were violently convulsed, perhaps all over, and many seemed to be in the agonies of death; and the far greater part, however otherwise affected, cried with a loud and bitter cry. . . . Although the outward symptoms were the same, yet in Wardale there were none of the dreams, visions, and revelations, which abounded at Everton; and which, though at first they undoubtedly were from God, yet were afterwards fatally counterfeited by the Devil, to the great discredit of the work of God. . . . On Saturday [I] went again to Sunderland. In the evening we mightily wrestled with God for an enlargement of his work. As we were concluding, an eminent backslider came strongly into my mind; and I broke out abruptly, "Lord, is Saul also among the prophets? Is James Watson here? If he be, show they power!" Down dropped James Watson like a stone, and began crying aloud for mercy (June 5, 1772). After preaching to an earnest congregation at Coleford, I met the Society. They contained themselves pretty well during the exhortation, but when I began to pray the flame broke out: many cried aloud; many sunk to the ground; many trembled exceedingly; but all seemed to be quite athirst for God, and penetrated by the presence of his power (September 8, 1784)

Continue reading about what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic..

Manifestations in the USA

by Richard M. Riss.

On the other side of the Atlantic, what is known as the Second Great Awakening in America broke out on or about the year 1800. This, also, was characterized by many manifestations, or bodily agitations as they were called. However, prior to the outbreak of the awakening, there were also many preliminary signs of revival, with accompanying manifestations. Two catalysts for this were the Shakers, and separately, a revival among Baptists on the James River in 1785.

James and Jane Wardley, two of the original founders of the Shakers in England, had at one time been Quakers. In the early 1700s, they felt that the Quakers were losing the power of prophecy, but that this power did appear in another group, the French Prophets, who came to England in 1706 and began testifying in London and its vicinity. According Marywebb Gibson (SHAKERISM IN KENTUCKY [Cynthiana, Ky.: The Hobson Press, 1942], p. 2), through the labors of the French Prophets, a number of persons received the Spirit. As a result, in 1747, a small Society of Believers was formed under the auspices of James and Jane Wardley in Lancashire, England. The Wardleys severed themselves from the Quakers at this time, but continued to meet according to the custom of the Quakers: One of the Quaker customs followed by James Wardley was to assemble his Society together for silent meditation, but it did not end with that. After sitting for a while the congregation began to tremble "and, at times, they were affected with the power of God with a mighty shaking; and were occasionally exercised in singing, shouting, or walking the floor, under the influence of spirited signs, swiftly passing and repassing each other, like clouds agitated by a mighty wind." It was from these strange exercises that the name Shakers was derived(ibid, p. 3).

When the Shakers moved to Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, it became known as Shakertown. The influence of the Shakers upon the great Kentucky revival that ushered in the second awakening is unmistakable; one commonly used primary source for the study of this awakening is Richard McNemar's book (1808), the full title of which is: "THE KENTUCKY REVIVAL; or, a Short History of the Late Extraordinary Out-Pouring of the Spirit of God, in the Western States of America, Agreeably to Scripture Promises and Prophecies, Concerning the Latter Day: With a Brief Account of the Entrance and Progress of What the World Call SHAKERISM, among the Subjects of the Late Revival in Ohio and Kentucky."

But the Shakers were not the only catalyst for the Cane Ridge Revival. In THE BIOGRAPHY OF ELD. BARTON WARREN STONE, edited by John Rogers (5th ed., Cincinnati: J.A. & U.P. James, 1847), we read: Mr. Benedict, in his Abridgment of the History of the Baptists, on page 345, speaking of the great revival that began among them, on James River, in 1785, says,

"During the progress of this revival, scenes were exhibited somewhat extraordinary. It was not unusual to have a large proportion of the congregation prostrate on the floor, and in some instances they lost the use of their limbs. . . . Screams, groans, shouts, hosannas, notes of grief and joy, all at the same time, were not unfrequently [sic] heard throughout their vast assemblies. . . . It is not unworthy of notice, that in those congregations where the preachers encouraged them to much extent, the work was more extensive, and greater numbers were added. It must also be admitted, that in many of the congregations, no little confusion and disorder arose, after the revival had subsided. Even then, among the old fashioned Calvinistic Baptists of the Old Dominion these strange bodily agitations obtained; and many of the preachers 'fanned them as fire from heaven,' and the excitement and confusion that pervaded their vast assemblies well nigh fills Mr. J. L. Waller's measure of a 'New Light Stir' in Kentucky"(pp. 356-357). Whitefield countenanced and encouraged these exercises. Professor Hodge, in his History of the Presbyterian Church, pages 85 and 86, says "The manner in which Whitefield describes the scenes at Nottingham and Fagg's Manor, and others of a similar character, shows he did not disapprove of these agitations. He says he never saw a more glorious sight, than when the people were fainting all around him, and crying out in such a manner as to drown his own voice"(p. 361).

The events described here which took place among Baptists in 1785 were a prelude to the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky, which, of course, was also characterized by these manifestations. Mark Galli's article, "Revival at Cane Ridge," in CHRISTIAN HISTORY 45 (vol. xiv, no. 1), pp, 12-13, provides an overview. After a discussion of some similar events which took place prior to the Cane Ridge revival, he quotes Barton W. Stone on what actually happened during that spring of 1801: The scene to me was new and passing strange. . . . Many, very many fell down, as men slain in battle, and continued for hours together in an apparently breathless and motionless state--sometimes for a few moments reviving, and exhibiting symptoms of life by a deep groan, or piercing shriek, or by a prayer for mercy most fervently uttered (p. 12).

He also paraphrases another eyewitness, Richard McNemar: Then the tumultuous bodily 'exercises' began. Along with the shouting and crying, some began falling. Some experienced only weakened knees or a light head (including Governor James Garrard). Others fell but remained conscious or talkative; a few fell into a deep coma, displaying the symptoms of a grand mal seizure or a type of hysteria. Though only a minority fell, some parts of the grounds were strewn like a battlefield (p. 13).

Galli then quotes another eyewitness who described the jerks: Their heads would jerk back suddenly, frequently causing them to yelp, or make some other involuntary noise (ibid).

There are more extensive eyewitness descriptions of these phenomena in another article, "Piercing Screams and Heavenly Smiles" (p. 15), which consists of excerpts of Barton W. Stone's 1847 autobiography, which devotes a few paragraphs each to falling, the jerks, dancing, barking, laughing, running, and singing. Here is what he said of the laughing exercise: The laughing exercise was frequent, confined solely with the religious. It was a loud, hearty laughter, but one sui generis; it excited laughter in none else. The subject appeared rapturously solemn, and his laugher excited solemnity in saints and sinners. It is truly indescribable (Rogers, p. 41)

About twenty years later, in 1821, Charles Finney was converted to the Christian faith. In his MEMOIRS (New York: A. S. Barnes & Co., 1876), pp. 20-21, he provides an extensive account of his experiences at this time, including the following: Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings. No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, "I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me." I said, "Lord, I cannot bear any more;" yet I had no fear of death. How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir--for I was the leader of the choir--came into the office to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, "Mr. Finney, what ails you?" I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, "Are you in pain?" I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, "No, but so happy that I cannot live." He turned and left the office, and in a few minutes returned with one of the elders of the church, whose shop was nearly across the way from our office. This elder was a very serious man; and in my presence had been very watchful, and I had scarcely ever seen him laugh. When he came in, I was very much in the state in which I was when the young man went out to call him. He asked me how I felt, and I began to tell him. Instead of saying anything, he fell into a most spasmodic laugher. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.

Where Finney says that he "literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings" of his heart, he is, in all probability describing what John Wesley described in several places as "roaring" at his meetings. The fact that the person who found him in this state asked if he might be in pain could also be indicative of groaning on Finney's part. It is also of interest that, when one of the elders of his church arrived, the power of the Spirit came upon him in the form of laughter.

Elsewhere in his Memoirs, Finney describes some of the same phenomena that took place in John Wesley's meetings: [In Adams, New York, in 1822:] Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets" (pp. 44-45). [In Antwerp, New York,] The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell" (p. 103).

At the same time, some of the same things were also happening in England. For example, on July 23, 1839, William Chalmers Burns, at Kilsyth, was preaching on Psalm 110:3, and retelling the story of the Kirk of Shotts, another great incidence of revival. He wrote, "the power of the Lord's Spirit became so mighty upon their souls as to carry all before it, like the 'rushing mighty wind' of Pentecost. Some were screaming out in agony; others--and among these strong men--fell to the ground as if they had been dead" (Charles G. Finney, REVIVALS OF RELIGION [Virginia Beach, Va.: CBN University Press, 1978], p. 57, note 1).

Falling Under The Power of God

by Charles G. Finney

The following excerpt is taken from The Autobiography of Charles G. Finney, condensed and edited by Helen Wessel, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publications, 1977) pages 100-101.

From Gouverneur I went to DeKalb, another village still farther north some sixteen miles. Here were a Presbyterian church and minister, but the church was small and the minister did not seem to have a very strong hold upon the people. However, I think he was decidedly a good man. I began to hold meetings in different parts of the town.

A few years previously there had been a revival in DeKalb under the labors of the Methodists. It had been attended with a good deal of excitement, and many cases had occurred of what the Methodists call "falling under the power of God." This the Presbyterians had resisted; consequently a bad state of feeling had arisen between the Methodists and the Presbyterians. The Methodists accused the Presbyterians of having opposed the revival among them because of these cases of falling. As nearly as I could learn, there was a good deal of truth in this, and the Presbyterians had been decidedly in error.

I had not preached very long one evening when just at the close of my sermon, I observed a man fall from his seat near the door, and the people gathered around him to take care of him. From what I saw I was satisfied that it was a case of falling under the power of God, as the Methodists would express it, and supposed that it was a Methodist. I must say I had a little fear that it might reproduce that state of division and alienation which had existed before. But on inquiry I learned that it was one of the principal members of the Presbyterian church that had fallen! And it was remarkable that during this revival there were several cases of this kind among the Presbyterians but none among the Methodists. This led to such confessions and explanation among the members of the different churches as to secure a state of great cordiality and good feeling among them....

In his Memoirs (New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1876), Finney described the following events in Adams, New York, in 1822: "Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all of their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closests" (pp. 44-45)

He also describes a church in Antwerp, New York: "The congregation began to fall from their seats in every direction, and cried for mercy. If I had had a sword in each hand, I could not have cut them off their seats as fast as they fell" (p. 103)

Manifestations China

by Richard M. Riss.

Here's a report that appeared in THE APOSTOLIC FAITH, vol. 1, no. 10 (September, 1907): Missionaries in China have been seeking the baptism with the Holy Ghost ever since they received the first Apostolic Faith papers from Los Angeles. One dear missionary, Brother B. Berntsen from South Chih-li, Tai-Ming-Fu, North China came all the way to Los Angeles to receive his Pentecost. And, bless God, he went to the altar at Azusa Mission, and soon fell under the power, and arose drunk on the new wine of the kingdom, magnifying God in a new tongue.

On January 29, 1907, T. B. Barratt wrote from Chistiania, Norway that "One man was thrown on his back, a preacher, last Sunday morning in the Students' Hall, and when he rose, he spoke in four languages, one of these was English. He could speak none of them before" (THE APOSTOLIC FAITH, vol. 1, No. 6 [February- March, 1907], p. 1).

John Barclay, a policeman from Carlton, Melbourne, Australia, wrote in the May, 1908 issue (vol. II, no. 12): "Presently some mighty, marvelous unseen power took hold of me, and I was thrown downward on the floor. Everything around me disappeared. The other friends were as if they never existed. I saw the heavens opened and my precious Jesus sitting on the throne. . . . [At another meeting,] about 1 o'clock a.m., a brother laid hands on me, and I received my baptism. My hands, arms, and whole body trembled greatly and I was thrown on the floor. All the others were praising the Lord."

A. S. Copley of Cambridge, Ohio, was quoted by THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (January 1907), p. 4, as follows about a meeting that had taken place on December 8, 1906 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hebden in Toronto: "One young woman . . . laughed incessantly for hours and hours. Sometimes she speaks in a tongue while at her work."

Henry Prentiss reported as follows in the May, 1907 issue (vol. 1, no. 8, p. 4): We went to the meeting where Bro. Blassco is. The Lord wonderfully blest in the service, and one precious sinner was saved, sanctified and baptized with the Holy Ghost. The Lord filled her mouth with holy laugher and she spoke in new tongues and has been under His power ever since, filled with joy and gladness.

The following month, A. A. Body wrote from England as follows (vol. 1, no. 9, p. 1): The next morning the Holy Ghost came in mighty power, causing me to laugh as I had never done in my life.

A. A. Body's wife wrote something very similar in a later issue (vol. 1, no. 11 [October 1907 to January 1908], p. 1): After a long time of silent waiting upon Him, God gave me a wonderful vision of Christ in the glory at the right hand of the Father, and from Him came a wonderful light on to me, causing me to laugh as I had never done before.

Here's another example, from vol II, No. 13 (May, 1908), p. 4: Then the power fell. There were times when we were all shouting, screaming and laughing together under the power of the Spirit.

The ninth issue of THE APOSTOLIC FAITH (September, 1907), p. 4, published a warning from Kedgaon, India, about attempts to suppress manifestations of this kind: We do not need to worry over these manifestations, nor seek to suppress them. IT IS FRUIT IN THE LIFE AND SERVICE THAT WE WANT TO SEE [Emphasis in the original]. These manifestations do not hinder fruit-bearing but we have seen over and over again during the past fifteen months, that where Christian workers have suppressed these manifestations, the Holy Spirit has been grieved, the work has stopped, and no fruit of holy lives has resulted. Who are we to dictate to an all-wise God as to how He shall work in anyone? When the Spirit is poured out upon anyone in strong conviction, why should we tell them that it is wrong to cry? Because among idolaters the devil imitates the trembling caused by the Holy Spirit when He comes in so as to overpower the physical, why should we say that the person has worked it up or is possessed by an evil spirit? The writer testifies that she has in the silence of the midnight hour, alone in her room without a sound in the house, been shaken from her innermost being, until her whole body was convulsed, and filled with joy and consciousness that the Holy Spirit had taken possession of every part of her being. No one had greater prejudice against religious excitement than she, but every time she put her hands upon the work at Mukti to suppress joy or strong conviction, or reproved persons being strongly wrought upon in prayer, the work of revival stopped, and she had to confess her fault before it went on again.

Of course, accounts of this kind were not limited to the APOSTOLIC FAITH newspapers, but can be found in much of the literature of the early Pentecostal movement. For example, in CHRONICLES OF A FAITH LIFE by Elizabeth V. Baker, 2nd ed. (Rochester, N.Y.: Elim Tabernacle, 1924), pp. 96-97, Mrs. Nellie A. Fell wrote: Thus the Lord led me on to that wonderful day in June [1907] when the Spirit fell in Pentecostal power [at Rochester Bible Training Center in Rochester, N.Y., associated with Elim Faith Home]. The convention in June opened on Wednesday with an unusual presence of God and power of the Spirit. . . . My sister, Susie, came into the room, and as she looked around, said, "Oh! the slain of the Lord. Pentecost has come to Elim." With that I was laid down as by a gentle pressure, which I did not try to resist; she also was prostrated at the same time. The Spirit within me began to laugh, and such joy and restful laughter I had never known. As I saw the complete finished work of Christ on the cross and we in Him, it filled my whole being with joy and praise. This continued until about seven that evening. In the meantime several others who had come in were prostrated under the power. Then some one thought we had better get up and go over into the meeting. (The Lord forgive us for our ignorance!) We were really unable to walk, literally drunk with the Spirit, but we went to the service and the power died out of us, for the time.

In RADIANT GLORY: THE LIFE OF MARTHA WING ROBINSON (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Bread of Life, 1962), pp. 299-301, there is an account of a Mr. Waldvogel, who received a number of manifestations: Sometimes he would pray with groanings and would weep bitterly. At other times, he would laugh uproariously and his whole body would shake. One minister advised him, "Brother, you had better ask God to cause that to stop." Perplexed and certainly not wanting to have any fleshly manifestations, Mr. Waldvogel met Mrs. Robinson in the hall of the Meeting House one day and, stopping her, told her of his quandary. "Every time I touch the Lord, I have such violent manifestations and I have been told to pray that they would stop. What should I do?" Quietly she smiled and answered, "Well, I certainly wouldn't." Then she went on to give her own experience in this respect and what the Lord had taught her. "In the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement there was a great deal of shaking and violent manifestations that people didn't understand. I didn't understand it either, but I said, 'It's either of God or not. If it is of God, it must be wonderful. It must have a very real purpose.'" . . . Relieved and instructed, Mr. Waldvogel went his way, and this teaching became a guiding light to him not only for himself but in his ministry. "I went on seeking the Lord, never trying to interfere with His operations either in myself or in others," Mr. Waldvogel comments. "I found out that God's plan and God's way is always the best way. . . ."

There were also manifestations of drunkenness in the Spirit and Holy Laughter in Kathryn Kuhlman's meetings. Beyond Productions (P.O. Box 3000, Dana Point, CA 92629, phone: 800- 468-4588, fax: 714-493-7544) has made available a two-hour videotape of a Kathryn Kuhlman miracle service which took place in 1969 at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim, California. This video contains two sections pertinent to this topic. One of them is only about a minute or two in length, and the other lasts for about five minutes. The first is an outbreak of holy laughter in the audience, and both Kathryn Kuhlman and Ralph Wilkerson refer to it in that way. The second is an example of drunkenness in the Spirit, and lasts longer. Here, also, Kathryn Kuhlman specifically refers to it as drunkenness in the Spirit. A portion of this second clip was shown in a recent television report by Peter Jennings, IN THE NAME OF GOD, which was aired on March 16, 1995.

by Richard Riss

World Missions Update -

C. Peter Wagner

Via Doug_Demick@WYCLIFFE.ORG


I would like to summarize portions of three messages delivered by Peter Wagner of the Fuller School of World Missions. His area of specialty is church growth. These messages were given at the Living Way Christian Fellowship in Greensboro, North Carolina, on April 25 and 26, 1997. Because they were such a blessing and encouragement to me, I want to pass that on to others. I am writing from my notes and memory; if I misrepresent Peter in any way, I apologize in advance.

Peter proclaimed that we are ALREADY living in a time of a greater outpouring of God's Spirit than Pentecost. The reason that we in America don't realize that is that most of the activity is in other parts of the world, notably the third world. Some facts: -

We are having a greater HARVEST than ever before.

* 140,000 people a DAY are coming to the Lord. This is 46 times the number that believed on the day of Pentecost. In China, a country officially closed to the Gospel, over 20,000 a DAY are turning to the Lord. In the Fungao area of the Hunan province of China, over 90% of the people are Christians. Significant mass conversions are happening in Hindu and Buddhist countries.

* Over the last 10 years, more people have become Christians than in all of church history prior to that.

We are having more MIRACLES than ever before.

Again, this is happening more in the third world than the western world. The messages contained many inspiring examples. My favorite: -

Wagner became aware of an African pastor who pastors a church numbering 70,000, which has spawned FIVE THOUSAND other churches. Since his specialty is church growth, he invited this pastor to California to speak to the faculty and students at Fuller.

When asked how his church had achieved such phenomenal growth, the pastor replied to the effect that "miracles help a lot". As an example, one of the satellite churches of the "Deeper Live Bible Church" was having its Thursday night meeting. (On Sundays, the churches focus on Bible teaching; on Thursday nights, they pray for the sick).

During prayer for the sick, the pastor became burdened for the friends and relatives of those present who were too sick to come to the meeting. He asked those who had very sick friends and relatives to hold up their handkerchiefs while he prayed. (By the way, there is a Biblical precedent for this: Paul in Ephesus). They were then instructed to take those handkerchiefs home and lay them on the sick people, proclaiming them healed in the name of Jesus.

Unknown to the pastor, there was a Moslem man present who was headman of his village. This man had never been in a Christian church before. He could not think of any friends or relatives who were sick; however, not wanting to miss a blessing, he held up his handkerchief anyway.

The headman went home. Some time later a couple in his village came to him, saying that their 9 year-old daughter had died. The headman came to where the body had been washed and laid out for burial, and was comforting the mourners. Then he remembered the handkerchief, and went back to his house to retrieve it.

When the headman laid the handkerchief on the girl, and proclaimed her healed in the name of Jesus as he had been instructed, she came back to life! The elders of the village had a meeting and decided that even though this village had been Moslem for hundreds of years, they would now convert to Christianity. Small wonder!

This is only one of many exciting stories of God showing his glory to folks traditionally closed to the gospel, resulting in their conversion. The efforts over the past 5 years of focusing prayer on the "10/40 window" are showing positive results.

Another exciting fact: the church is now TRULY GLOBAL in scope.

The third world is now sending out more missionaries than the western world. Some of the top leadership in the church is coming from the third world.

The above are only brief excerpts of Wagner's talks.

The tapes are available for $6.00 by writing to:

Grace Presbytery Missions Office 5117 Cliffdale Rd. Fayetteville NC 28314

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