The original ‘Pentecostal Movement’ was first written during the Second World War and gives readers a detailed account of the people, places and events that gave British Pentecostalism its influential place amongst world Pentecostal movements. Though it deals mainly with British history it frequently reflects upon personalities from other nations who played a part in the formation of Britain’s Pentecostal movements.
Beginning with the Welsh Revival and the Azusa Street Outpouring, the author documents the spreading flame of Pentecost from Barratt in Sunderland, Smith Wigglesworth in Bradford and a host of other pioneers who became leaders of the fledgling Pentecostal denominations.
This book will always be a primary source for the history of British Pentecostalism. In 1966, just before his death, Gee brought the story up to date, including reference to the second-wave of the Spirit through the Charismatic Movement, when it’s name changed to ‘Wind and Fire.’
We have included 5 of the 17 chapters.
INTRODUCTION. – THE SPRINGS OF THE MOVEMENT. – THE HOLINESS MOVEMENTS. - THE WELSH REVIVAL. – THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT. – PENTECOSTAL PHENOMENA IN HISTORY.
THERE is something both wise and winsome in the straightforward reason given by Luke for the writing of the third Gospel. He sees the increasing value of an authentic and orderly record of the things “most surely believed” among the early Christians; and realises the importance of this being based upon a first hand knowledge of facts in the possession of those who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word.” Therefore he collates his material and, inspired by the Spirit of God, writes for his “most excellent Theophilus.”
Something of the same conviction and urge will arise in those who have been connected with powerful and far-reaching revival movements within the Church, when they realise the time has arrived that calls for a record of “those things” that have become the heritage of multitudes. The generation who participated in the rise of what has come to be called the Pentecostal Movement is swiftly passing away. We owe it to our children to place in their hands as true a record as may be of the beginning of the Movement with which their parents, either natural or spiritual, have been identified, and with whose progress many of them are still deeply concerned.
Nevertheless, the fact that a “history,” however brief, is desired, and even possible, gives reason for some heart-searching. On the one hand the fact of survival, world-wide expansion and establishment in the teeth of great opposition, until there is now something to write history about, cannot but be gratifying to those who have borne the brunt of the battle. Whatever explanation is offered for the facts, this is now proved to be more than a mere “flash-in-the-pan,” and it merits consideration by the thoughtful. On the other hand, it is with something of a pang that those who shared in the first flush of a new-born revival movement hear any suggestion to write its “history.” To them it sounds ominous. The morning is passed. Whence is the Movement now trending? The pioneers of “Pentecost” visualised a revival that was to touch and inspire every section of the Christian Church; for they belonged to so many different sections. Above all things, their hearts glowed with the expectation and conviction that this was destined to be the last revival before the coming of the Lord, and that, for them, all earthly history would soon be consummated by the “Rapture.”
That Hope remains: but the passing decades, the inevitable development produced by the formation of distinctive Pentecostal Assemblies, the resultant rise of organisation, and finally of recognised denominationalism, has now produced a situation and an outlook vastly different from that which pertained at the beginning. The clock cannot be put back. But Vision can still inspire and direct. The significance of the Movement should be interpreted. This, however, demands an examination of the facts from the staff.
The Springs of the Movement
The Pentecostal Movement had its rise as a recognised entity during the early years of the twentieth century; and to understand its origins we must recall the general situation in the more spiritual sections of the Church about that time.
This is the more important because of one highly significant feature of the Movement that distinguishes it in a striking way from most of those that have gone before. The Pentecostal Movement does not owe its origin to any outstanding personality or religious leader, but was a spontaneous revival appearing almost simultaneously in various parts of the world. We instinctively connect the Reformation with Luther, the Quakers with George Fox, Methodism with Wesley, the Plymouth Brethren with Darby and Groves, the Salvation Army with William Booth, and so on. But the outstanding leaders of the Pentecostal Movement are themselves the products of the Movement. They did not make it; it made them. Some of them have been powerfully used to extend its borders, and some have been the founders of particular sectional organisations within it or arising from it; but perhaps one of the facts most needed to be understood correctly is their relationship to the Movement as a whole. To many the profound spiritual significance of this has always been one of the most beautiful things about the Movement. They felt it provided something peculiarly of the Spirit of God.
The Holiness Movements.
The last quarter of the Nineteenth Century was blessed on both sides of the Atlantic by the outstanding evangelistic movement associated with Moody and Sankey; and by the growth, within the Church, of what may broadly be called the Holiness Movement. In England, beside the rise of the now world-famous Keswick Convention for the deepening of spiritual life, there were Conferences associated with such names as W. E. Boardman. These attracted visitors of the spiritual calibre of men like Pastor Stockmayer of Germany, and exerted a far-reaching spiritual influence.
These movements all agreed in stressing a deeper experience for the Christian than just conversion. Although differing in points of doctrine, they mostly agreed in teaching some kind of definite “second blessing” for believers. The scriptural phrase the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost” began to appear and become familiar in the sense of a real spiritual crisis for the Christian subsequent to regeneration.
In the hands of teachers like Reader Harris, K.C., in England, who founded a Holiness Movement known as “The Pentecostal League”; and under similar teaching from godly and powerful leaders in America; the term “The Baptism of the Holy Ghost” came to be used for a vivid experience of sanctification received by faith. The emphasis was upon cleansing from sin. The “baptism” was essentially a purifying baptism, and the “Fire” was refining fire. There can be no doubt that thousands did receive a very real and definite experience that changed their whole Christian testimony. One of the most abiding and beautiful evidences of this remains in the special hymns produced by such writers in the Holiness Movement as Mrs. C. H. Morris, whose hymns have been enthusiastically adopted by the Pentecostal Movement all over the world. It should also be remembered that the Salvation Army is a “Holiness Movement” as far as its doctrines for the progress of the Christian life are concerned. When the Holiness Movement was at its zenith in America great Camp Meetings were held that probably equaled for scenes of enthusiasm, even if they did not exceed, anything more recently seen in the Pentecostal Movement. Although the old Holiness Movements were certainly not free from scenes of grievous fanaticism, they also produced some mighty saints. Many of the first Pentecostal leaders had originally been in the Holiness Movement.
It was, perhaps, Dr. Torrey who first gave the teaching of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost a new, and certainly more scriptural and doctrinally correct, emphasis on the line of “power from on high,” especially for service and witness (Acts I. 8). His logical presentation of truth did much to establish the doctrine. About that time he visited Berlin, and his preaching there of the Baptism of the Spirit sowed seeds that undoubtedly flourished a few years later when the Pentecostal Movement broke out in Germany. In America a parallel ministry in many ways was being accomplished by the saintly A. B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He also, like others in Europe, began to boldly teach the truth of divine healing. It was in connection with the renowned Dr. Dowie that Divine Healing received its greatest notoriety at that time. Critics made much capital out of some of the later phases of Dowie’s work, but it is the testimony of all who knew him that he was, in the beginning, a man signally and genuinely used by God for some undoubted miracles. Some of his followers also became the first Pentecostal leaders, among whom in England were Mr. and Mrs. Cantel of North London.
There was inevitable theological and denominational opposition to the doctrine of a “second blessing,” and all testimony arising from it, among prominent preachers and influential sects that found no place for such things in their systems. Doubtless extravagances and extremes not only in testimony, but in presentation of the doctrine, merited some criticism; but by the year 1900 the phrase “The Baptism in the Holy Ghost” had become familiar among all circles of more spiritually-minded believers, and those interested in the subject of revival. Many were testifying that they had actually received such an experience, and were exhorting others to seek for the same.
The Great Welsh Revival of 1904.
Then came the great Welsh Revival of 1904. It is impossible, and would be historically incorrect, to dissociate the Pentecostal Movement from that remarkable visitation of God’s Spirit.
The profound impression which the Welsh Revival made upon the entire Christian world can scarcely be realised by those who were not living at the time. Visitors came from far and near. Newspapers sent special reporters, and published lengthy reports. Some mocked; some were converted; all were impressed. It seemed, for a time, like an irresistible torrent.
Perhaps the most formative result was the creation of a widespread spirit of expectation for still greater things. Men justly asked “Why Wales only?” Why not other lands? Why not a world-wide Revival? Prayer to that end received a tremendous new impetus. And while so many were interceding for a wider outpouring of the Holy Spirit, others were pleading equally for a deeper work. Faith was rising to visualise a return to apostolic Christianity in all its pristine beauty and power.
Consequently there were, at that time, earnest and hungry groups of Christians, and individual believers, all over the British Isles, on the Continent of Europe, over in America, away in India, and scattered throughout the whole world who were eager for every bit of news that seemed like an answer to their prayers. In this manner the spiritual soil was prepared in the providence of God for the rise of the Pentecostal Movement.
Of special interest to British people is the little group that gathered around the godly vicar of All Saints’ Parish Church, Sunderland. Alexander A. Boddy had been their spiritual leader since 1886. When the Revival broke out in Wales in 1904 he made a special journey to Wales, and stood beside Evan Roberts in the midst of some of the amazing scenes of Tonypandy. When he recounted to his people at All Saints what he had personally seen in Wales it stirred both pastor and people up to yet more earnest prayer and expectation of great things from God. Sunderland was being prepared in the purposes of God to become a centre of new and far-reaching blessing.
The Scriptural Basis for the Pentecostal Movement.
It is advisable, before proceeding further with the history of the Movement, to state very briefly the scriptural basis for its distinctive testimony.
The designation “Pentecostal” arises from its emphasis upon a baptism in the Holy Spirit such as that recorded in Acts II. that occurred on the Day of Pentecost. The Pentecostal Movement shares with most sections of the Holiness movement and some others in the Church, the conviction that such a baptism in the Holy Spirit remains as a separate individual experience possible for all Christians, irrespective of time or place (Acts II. 38, 39). The dispensational significance of the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is fully recognised (Acts II. 33); but there were also subsequent local repetitions of that blessing (e.g. at Samaria, Acts viii.; at Caesarea on the Gentiles, Acts X.; and twenty-three years later at Ephesus, Acts xix.) Moreover, for the individual recipient of the baptism in the Spirit it is subsequent to, and distinct from, regeneration (e.g. at Samaria, after their baptism as believers by Philip — Acts viii. 12 and 17: in the case of Saul of Tarsus, three days after his conversion — Acts ix. 6 and 17: the Ephesian believers who were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise after they had believed — Eph. I. 13 and Acts xix. 6). Our Lord Himself received the fulness of the Spirit as a separate and distinct enduement of power when He “was about thirty years of age” (Luke iii. 22 and iv. I).
The particular and distinctive testimony of the Pentecostal Movement has been that the outward evidences that accompanied the baptism in the Holy Spirit in primitive Christian experience can be, should be, and are being repeated up to date. It is this special witness that has earned for it among its opponents the sobriquet of the “tongues” Movement.
The New Testament is clear that the gift of the Spirit in the beginning was invariably witnessed to by some physical manifestation — something others could “see and hear” (Acts II. 33). The most usual and most persistent manifestation was speaking with tongues (Acts II. 4; X. 44; XIX. 6). In order to safeguard the vital point that the baptism in the Holy Spirit ought to be regarded by Christians as a perfectly definite experience and spiritual crisis for the individual. The Pentecostal Movement has consistently taught that speaking with tongues is the scriptural initial evidence of that baptism. This challenging doctrine has proved to be the most provocative feature in the testimony. Sometimes it may not have been presented wisely or well, but Pentecostal people feel that God has entrusted them with this testimony on that point. Our present task is not controversy, but history. The emphasis of the movement upon the matter is an historical fact whatever controversialists may have to say about the matter.
Arising from a belief in the restoration, or continuance of the manifestations of the Spirit occurring at the baptism in the Holy Spirit, is the logical expectation that the following supernatural spiritual gifts that operated in the Early Church may also be enjoyed to-day. These gifts are particularly referred to in I. Corinthians xii. to xiv., with some added notice in other parts of the New Testament. They include not only the gift of Tongues, but Prophesying, Healing, Visions, etc.
Further to the individual gifts of the Spirit the Pentecostal Movement also stands for gifted ministers as a bestowal of Christ upon His Church, as distinct from trained natural talent (Eph. iv. II). They regard these offices as arising from Spiritual Gifts.
Summed up broadly, the distinctive testimony of the Pentecostal Movement within the Church is to the abiding possibility and importance of the supernatural element in Christian life and service, particularly as contained in the manifestation of the Spirit. The real value of such a witness and such a faith would seem to be beyond question, whatever divergence of view may exist upon details.
Pentecostal Phenomena in History.
It is a commonplace of Church History that the special phenomena now associated with the Pentecostal Movement have occurred again and again during periods of spiritual revival and enthusiasm. A long list of such happenings could be cited, but it will be sufficient to quote such an acknowledged authority as the Encyclopedia Britannica (vol. 27: pp. 7 and 10; 11th edition) that the Glossolalia (or speaking with tongues), “recurs in Christian revivals in every age; e.g. among the mendicant friars of the thirteenth century, among the Jansenists and early Quakers, the converts of Wesley and Whitefield, the persecuted Protestants of the Cevennes, and the Irvingites.”
In David Smith’s Life and Letters of St. Paul we have, in his notes on the gift of tongues, a scholarly account of modem appearances of the phenomena.” The most striking instances of the gift of tongues in modem times are the prophets of the Cevennes at the close of the seventeenth century, and Irvingites early in the nineteenth.” With reference to the latter Movement, which had its rise in Scotland, he goes on to say, “The gifts, especially prophesy and tongues continued and increased; and the fame of so marvellous a manifestation spread abroad and the two dwellings were frequented by visitors from far and near. One of these was the wise and saintly Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, who after sojourning six weeks with these people published this testimony: “Whilst I see nothing in the Scriptures against the reappearance, or rather the continuance, of miraculous gifts in the Church, but a great deal for it, I must further say that I see a great deal of internal evidence in the West Country (of Scotland) to prove their genuine miraculous character, especially in the speaking with tongues . . . after witnessing what I have witnessed among these people, I cannot think of any person decidedly condemning them as imposters without a feeling of great alarm. It is certainly a thing not to be lightly, or rashly, believed, but neither is it a thing to be lightly or rashly rejected. I believe that it is of God.”
It is fair to record that Smith goes on to relate that some of the subsequent developments, especially in the community that gathered around Edward Irving, compelled Erskine to revise such an unqualified approval. Even then, however, Erskine questioned not the gifts themselves) but rather their flagrant abuse — exactly as Paul found himself compelled to do regarding their abuse in Corinth.” But surely they shall yet appear,” said Erskine, “when God has prepared men to receive them.” That sentence seems prophetic.
The guarded language of reverent scholarship recognises that neither Scripture, nor logic, nor history can produce any sound and convincing argument against the continuance of the early Pentecostal phenomena of the Church. Great leaders of Christian thought and work, like John Wesley, William Booth, and others have fearlessly placed on record their personal conviction that the manifestation of the Spirit is highly desirable, and that the Church only ceases to enjoy His gifts through her own lukewarmness and unbelief, and not because God arbitrarily withdraws them as unnecessary today.
A condition of spiritual revival seems essential for their reappearance. Surely this is in their favour. The student of Church History concerning recurrences of speaking with tongues, and similar phenomena, may feel inclined to attribute some aspects to sheer natural emotion, deeply stirred by religious experience. Even so, the fair-minded student should at least agree with the sober judgment of Conybeare in his footnote to his translation of I. Corinthians xiv. “If,” says Conybeare, “the inarticulate utterances of ecstatic joy are followed (as they were in some of Wesley’s converts) by a life of devoted holiness, we should hesitate to say that they might not have some analogy to those of the Corinthian Christians.” Many of us would be prepared to go much further than that. Surely nothing but inexcusable prejudice will admit less.
ASUZA STREET. T. B. BARRATT. EXPECTATION IN ENGLAND AND SWEDEN. REASONS FOR OPPOSITION.
THERE have been testimonies in several places to individuals receiving a spiritual experience accompanied by speaking with tongues before the commencement of the recognised Pentecostal Movement, though in many cases it was not until long afterward that they understood what had really happened to them in the sense of connecting it with New Testament precedent. They usually describe an infilling of the Spirit accompanied by what Finney, in his own testimony, calls “unutterable gushings” of the heart in praise and prayer.
Earlier outpourings of a more collective nature are also recorded by Stanley Frodsham in his excellent book With Signs Following, at Topeka, Kansas, in 1900, at Galena in 1903, and again in Houston, Texas, in 1904 and 1905.
It is usual, however, to connect the appearance of the Pentecostal Movement as such, with remarkable meetings in the old Asuza Street Mission of Los Angeles, California, that continued throughout 1906. It was that which happened there that first received widespread attention, and attracted visitors from all over the world.
The circumstances were humble enough. The meetings were held in a wooden barn-like structure now pulled down, but of which the writer was fortunate enough to secure a snapshot in 1928. The leader was a humble coloured minister of the name of W. J. Seymour, who apparently possessed this, at least, in common with Evan Roberts’ leadership in the Welsh Revival, that he preached very little, and more or less allowed things to go their own way, or perhaps we ought to say — the Lord’s way. He had come from the revival meetings referred to above in Houston, but on plainly testifying of what had been happening there, they locked the door against him and called the President of the Holiness Association to come down to Los Angeles and settle that the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was simply sanctification. Yet when that good man heard Seymour speak of the Baptism according to the Book of Acts, accompanied by speaking with tongues, he said that he wanted it too. It was remarkable that Brother Seymour himself had not so received at that time.
The meetings were transferred to a private home at 214, Bonnie Brae Street, where a company were fasting and praying for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost; and there, on April 9th, 1906, the “Fire Fell.” Brother Seymour received his personal Pentecost on April 12th. More and more began to come to the meetings, and so they secured the premises at 312, Asuza Street to accommodate the people.
The news of what was happening in Los Angeles began to spread far and wide, and a little four-page paper, published free month by month, carried it even to distant lands. Sensational reports in the daily papers, though published from a very different motive, all helped to spread the news. Of course the main emphasis of the newspaper reporters was on the speaking with tongues, or anything spectacular that occurred. They had little interest in the times of tremendous heart-searching and emptying of self that were going on.
Visitors now began to come from many different parts of North America, and finally from Overseas too. They were from various walks of life and church connections.
The refined and educated mixed freely with the ignorant and lowly. Christian workers, pastors, evangelists, missionaries and others came to investigate for themselves. Many were hungry for God and tarried to seek and receive a personal “Pentecost”. Today there are leading large Pentecostal churches and organisations right across America, both among the white and the coloured peoples.
The prayerful expectation we have noted in Europe was very present in America also at that time, and when individuals who had received a powerful experience in Los Angeles returned to theft home-towns and churches they became the channels for many a local “Pentecost.” The Christian and Missionary Alliance also received the impact of this new wave of spiritual power, and both at their big Conferences, and at their Training School at Nyack, N.Y., there were remarkable visitations and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Some of the students at Nyack have since become outstanding leaders in the Pentecostal Movement
In June, 1907, one of these workers was called to take part in a Convention at the Elim Home, Rochester, N.Y., and thereafter the Bible School and Conventions there became for many years a fruitful centre of Pentecostal blessing. Their magazine, called Trust, was welcomed all over the world.
About the close of 1906 similar manifestations occurred in Toronto, Canada, among those who had made no contact with any others. About the same time hungry Canadian ministers journeyed all the way to Asuza Street, while others received a personal “Pentecost in Chicago; and during 1907 hundreds received the Baptism of the Spirit in Winnipeg alone. Among these was ArchdeaCon Phair, an Episcopal minister among the Indians in North-west Canada, and the writer well remembers the visit of this venerable figure to Pentecostal Conventions in England a few years later. Another minister among the Indians in Canada in those days was A. G. Ward, and one day when preaching to them through an interpreter he began to speak in other tongues under the power of the Spirit. His interpreter suddenly exclaimed, “Why, you are now speaking to us in our own language.”
The Fire spread all over North America until it reached the great City of New York and eventually led to the establishment of Glad Tidings Tabernacle in 33rd Street, just opposite the General Post Office. Here, under the God-given leadership and ministry of Robert Brown and his gifted wife, who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1908 and 1906 respectively, a great work has been carried on through the years whose influence literally extends to the ends of the earth.
T. B. Barratt.
It was in the year 1906 that a Methodist minister from Norway, T. B. Barratt by name, visited America for the particular purpose of raising funds to build a large central mission in the city of Christiania (now Oslo). Pastor Barratt was a Cornishman by birth whose parents had emigrated to Norway when he was four years old, and he spoke English and Norwegian with equal fluency.
His trip was a disappointment financially, but while still in New York he received a wonderful baptism of the Holy Spirit on October 7th, 1906. It is affirmed that a supernatural light was seen like a cloven tongue of fire over his head. Fortunately, Brother Barratt preserved for us a vivid account of his own experiences, and as it is so typical of the experience of multitudes it seems worth-while to repeat it in full.
“I was filled,” says Brother Barratt, “with light and such a power that I began to shout as loud as I could in a foreign language. I must have spoken seven or eight languages, to judge from the various sounds and forms of speech used. I stood erect at times, preaching in one foreign tongue after another, and knew from the strength of my voice that 10,000 might easily have heard all I said. The most wonderful moment was when I burst into a beautiful baritone solo, using one of the most pure and delightful languages I have ever heard. The tune and words were entirely new to me and the rhythm and cadence of the various choruses seemed to be perfect.” (Brother Barratt was a student of the great Norwegian composer Grieg, and so was well fitted to appreciate such matters.) “I sang several times later on. Oh, it was wonderful! Glory! Hallelujah! That night will never be forgotten by any who were there. Now and then, after a short pause, the words would rush forth like a cataract. At times I had seasons of prayer in the Spirit when all New York, the United States, Norway, Scandinavia and Europe, my loved ones and friends, lay like an intense burden on my soul. Oh, what power was given in prayer! My whole being was at times as if it were on fire inside, and then I would quiet down into sweet songs in a foreign language. Oh, what praises to God arose from my soul for His mercy! I felt as strong as a lion, and know now from whence David and Samson got their strength. To-day I have been speaking and singing in tongues wherever I have been. Glory to God!”
However we may choose to explain an experience such as the above, it is a true and faithful account of similar emotions and manifestations that, in varying measure, have been enjoyed by many, many thousands all over the world; and it is these facts of quite definite and vivid experience that constitute the solid core of the unique testimony of the Pentecostal Movement.
Mr. Barratt sailed from New York on December 8th, 1906, and a great movement on Pentecostal lines began immediately he resumed his ministry in Norway.
Prayerful Expectation in England and Sweden
When that eventful year 1906 drew to a close the Pentecostal Movement had not yet commenced in the British Isles, but there were, as we have already seen, prayer meetings being held all over the country for a yet deeper Revival than that which had so recently visited Wales. Foremost among them were those in connection with All Saints’, Sunderland, under the leadership of Alexander A. Boddy. By this time news had reached them there of what had been happening in Los Angeles, and the progress of spiritual events was being watched with keen interest and eager expectation. Prayer redoubled.
The same kind of thing was happening in Sweden where, especially among the Baptists, there were many groups gathering in the homes to pray for Revival. Among them was a young preacher of the name of Lewi Pethrus, who had already received a powerful experience of deep inward cleansing in 1905. After reading a book by Dr. A. J. Gordon, he began to long and pray for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, though he had never seen anyone receive that blessing. Moreover, to quote his own words. “There were thousands of others” (in Sweden) “at the same time crying to God:’Give us Revival, and fill us with the Holy Spirit.’ “The same spiritual conditions prevailed in Holland and Germany.
By the end of 1906 it was evident that a powerful new revival movement had appeared, the main emphasis of which was upon a personal spiritual experience which was emphatically declared to be the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost,” and was invariably accompanied by speaking with tongues and other manifestations of a supernatural or deeply emotional character. It immediately appealed to multitudes of those who had been prayerfully expecting just such a further world-wide outpouring of God’s Spirit, and they naturally and legitimately saw in these things an answer to their prayers. There was, moreover, a scripturalness about “tongues” recurring as an initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that was not only deeply satisfying in itself, but logically led on to an expectation of the restoration of other features of Primitive Christianity such as miraculous healings, prophesying, and the like.
The Problem of Opposition to the Movement.
It may well cause surprise that a Revival which seemed to possess so many scriptural features, and to be the answer to so many prayers, should have rapidly become the object of the most violent attacks from some of the most spiritual sections and leaders of the Christian Church. The less spiritual ones either heard nothing of it, or treated it with disdain and held aloof. It is a reasonable question as to why this was so, and after this lapse of years we should be able to bring to the matter a dispassionate judgment.
(a) Various explanations must be recognised. It should be remembered that among the more conservative elements of the Christian Church (and these constitute the largest part) all “Revival” movements are looked at askance. Even the preceding “Holiness” movements had been either rejected or treated with cool caution. The Welsh Revival had come in for much criticism in many quarters on account of its emotional scenes. How much more, therefore, the new Pentecostal Movement, or “Tongues Movement,” as its critics and opponents soon began to call it.
(b) Very few notable personalities were connected with the Movement in its beginning, and one looked in vain for any influential name that might have swayed multitudes among the masses of church members and pulpit admirers. This, of course, is no real argument where the truth is concerned. The same actually was said of our Lord, and His apostles, and the primitive churches. Respectability, wealth, learning and influence came later to the Church, and are no necessary attendants to the power of the Holy Spirit. But their lack is sufficient discouragement to those whose religion is far more a matter of social respectability, or religious reputation, than a vital necessity of the heart.
(c) Fear was inculcated through garbled reports of what actually transpired in Pentecostal meetings. The press naturally concentrated on anything spectacular or unusual, and this gave to those whose only impressions were gained by reading the newspapers, a very twisted idea of the actual facts. Unfortunately those religious agencies that unreservedly lent themselves to opposition to the Movement lost no opportunity of exploiting anything that could promote fear or dislike, passing the good in silence. Among more select circles of spiritual Christians there began to be much talk of “counterfeits,” until there were those who bitterly condemned the whole Movement as satanic, in spite of so much “good fruit” as evidence to the contrary. Genuine and sincere warning as to the possibility of deception was justified and opportune, but in only a very few cases was it given in a loving and gracious spirit.
(d) Truth must honestly admit that there were scenes in the first rush of new spiritual enthusiasm and experience that no reputable Christian worker would now seek to defend or excuse. Emotions were deeply stirred, there was a reaction against the prevailing stiffness and formality of most of the churches, and some elements were bound to be attracted within the orbit of such a free Movement that possessed very questionable qualities. There were, let it be quite frankly admitted, some scenes of indisputable fanaticism. At the beginning there were few leaders with sufficient experience of just this type of movement who could lay their hand on extremists without fear of quenching the Spirit. That phase, however, has long since passed. Most of the early fanaticism in the Pentecostal Movement arose from the utmost sincerity, and in the midst of many mistakes hearts were right, and therefore God was able steadily to bring things into a healthier condition.
(e) As the Movement grew it inevitably affected more and more church members who were nominally attached to the various denominations or previous outstanding spiritual movements. A clash was bound to occur where the personal Pentecostal testimony was not received, and in many cases strongly opposed. This produced division, and usually forced those who had received a personal Pentecostal experience ultimately to withdraw, though with great reluctance. It was natural that pastors and organisations that thus lost some who had been among their most spiritual members should bitterly oppose the Movement that was responsible. It must also be recorded with deep regret that the Pentecostal people themselves have not been without blame in the language which they have sometimes used, both in private and in public, when describing those other sections of the Christian Church from which their testimony has compelled them to withdraw. This has only tended to exasperate the opposition to themselves still more. Happily this phase, also, is now passing away.
(f) Finally, there seems to be a law which students are compelled to observe, that the last wave of spiritual revival in the Church nearly always seems to offer the greatest opposition to the new wave of oncoming blessing and advance. It must be remembered, and that with deep sympathy, that when the teaching and testimony of the Pentecostal Movement came to the front there were great numbers of Christian leaders who already were claiming to have been baptised in the Holy Spirit in connection with preceding revival movements. Only a most gracious spirit, and an unusual humility of mind, could accept the new and more scriptural standards which, certainly not always wisely nor winsomely, the Pentecostal preachers now set up. The Pentecostal testimony provided a personal challenge of a very searching nature. Where that challenge to seek, receive and manifest at least something of apostolic Christian experience in the Spirit was not accepted, the obvious line of excuse and self-defence was to repudiate and finally slander, the Movement that provoked it. Delicate though the point may be, we are compelled to recognise that here we touch a fundamental reason for much of the opposition.
The history of the Pentecostal Movement might have been very different had the Church as a whole received it into its bosom forthwith. But the providence of God permitted otherwise, and the Movement therefore was compelled to develop as a separate entity.
THE PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT BEGINS IN THE BRITISH ISLES. REVIVAL IN SCANDINAVIA. THE OUTPOURING AT MUKTI, INDIA.
EARLY in 1907 Alexander A. Boddy personally visited Norway to see for himself the Pentecostal Revival which was now spreading like a fire through the ministry of T. B. Barratt. A reference in the latter’s Journal reveals the hunger existing at that time in England — “March 4th, 1907. On Saturday evening, Pastor A. A. Boddy from England spoke. He is a minister of the Established Church, and is come here to pray with us for the fulness of the Holy Spirit. He spoke at all three meetings, and read aloud the names of some of the members of his church who had specially desired the prayers of the assemblies. They were assembled for prayer in England at the same time as us last night.”
In an article to several English papers Mr. Boddy wrote “My four days in Christiania (Oslo) can never be forgotten. I stood with Evan Roberts in Tonypandy, but have never witnessed such scenes as those in Norway.” Mr. Boddy urged Pastor Barratt to visit England, and ultimately he felt led of God to arrange for some special meetings in Sunderland early in the autumn.
To the Keswick Convention of 1907 Mr. Boddy took a pamphlet he had prepared and written entitled Pentecost for England, and thousands were distributed. In his opening sentences he claimed: “It is said that 20,000 people today are speaking with tongues, or have so spoken yet not more than perhaps half-a-dozen persons are known by the writer to have had this experience in Great Britain.”
The first to “receive” in England.
Those to whom Mr. Boddy referred had been blessed in the home of Mrs. Price, 14, Akerman Road, Brixton, London, S. W. Very early in the New Year of 1907 Catherine S. Price had been kneeling in quiet worship and adoration in her own room about midnight. She was taken in spirit to Calvary, and when she opened her mouth to adore the Lamb of God found that she was doing so in another language. While attending a Convention meeting the following night this sister found a great burden to pass on the fulness of her heart to those present, but again found that she was doing so, by the Spirit, in another language. A minister sitting by asked her if she knew the language, and that if it were by the Holy Ghost would she ask for the interpretation. The Lord, she said, at once gave it to her in English. The result was conviction, confession, and whole-heart yieldedness to the Lord Jesus all over the hall.”
During that summer, Mrs. Price opened her house at Brixton for prayer meetings, and these may be regarded as the first definitely “Pentecostal” meetings established in England. But later on it became known that other individuals in Wales, on the South Coast, and in the North of England, had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the sign of tongues before the great outpouring that commenced in Sunderland in September of that year.
“The Fire Falls” at All Saints’ , Sunderland.
Just before Pastor Barratt sailed from Norway at the end of August, 1907, he received a letter from A. A. Boddy informing him that visitors were already gathering at Sunderland from many parts of England. They had been praying for months that God would send His servant over, and that Pentecostal blessing would graciously crown his ministry. Mr. Barratt records in his Journal a deep feeling of his own unworthiness, but a conviction that the call to the land of his fathers was of the Lord, and therefore he set forth in complete dependence upon God.
He landed at Newcastle, and early in September, 1907, T. B. Barratt, a former Methodist minister, found himself again on his native soil, and the guest of a Church of England clergyman. He arrived on Saturday, and that evening in Sunderland, they held the first prayer meeting in the vestry “with great blessing.” On the next day Pastor Barratt was asked to preach in All Saints’ Parish Church immediately following the usual evening service conducted by the vicar. The service was followed by a prayer meeting in the vestry, where “many received very marked blessings, and a few came through to a scriptural baptism in the Holy Ghost for we heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.’” That meeting continued until 4 a.m. on Monday morning. The Pentecostal Revival had commenced in the British Isles.
Meetings were then held in the large Parish Hall every afternoon and evening, with a waiting meeting in the vestry after each service that usually continued far into the early morning. Added to those who had previously gathered at Sunderland for these special meetings there now began to come a steady stream from various sections of the Christian Church. The meetings grew continually both in numbers and influence.
The daily newspapers were used by Divine Providence almost more than any other agency to bring the news of what was happening in Sunderland before the notice of multitudes who otherwise might never have heard. Of course they fastened upon the more spectacular phenomena accompanying the services, particularly the speaking with tongues, but almost without exception the reporters were impartial, and not one paper contained a bitter word. The extent of these reports probably justified Mr. Barratt’s words on September 13th, that “the eyes of the religious millions of Great Britain are now fixed upon Sunderland.” Yet the religious periodicals, as a whole, maintained a frigid silence.
When the vicar’s wife received the gift of the Spirit in a meeting that lasted until 1 a.m., she not only spoke clearly in tongues, but sang most beautifully. Sometimes those newly-filled with the Spirit would go home through the empty streets in the small hours of the morning as outwardly intoxicated as those who had been drinking the wine of this world (compare Acts II, 13). But how different both the cause and the effect! In this case even their bodies were renewed, strengthened and filled with new life, while the aftermath was pure blessing.
T. B. Barratt returned to Norway on October 18th, after a few weeks’ ministry of incalculable future influence for the Kingdom of God. One mute testimony to the blessing of those memorable days still remains in the wall of the Parish Hall in the shape of a stone inscribed with the words:
WHEN THE FIRE OF THE LORD FELL IT BURNT UP THE DEBT
An outstanding debt on the hall was swiftly cleared as a result of the Revival.
A constant stream of seekers continued to come to Sunderland to see and hear for themselves these scenes of reported Pentecostal blessing and phenomena. Some were critical, and one local minister violently attacked the new Movement that had sprung up with such power in his vicinity. Mr. and Mrs. Boddy were unmovable in their conviction that the work was of God, and were ready to help and receive all who came seeking the Promise of the Father. Those were busy days for an already busy parish minister, and the vicarage became a hallowed spot for many a visitor. It must surely have been in the Providence of God that at that time the Bishop of Durham was the saintly Handley G. Moule; for no ecclesiastical hindrances were raised to these remarkable scenes in connection with a Parish Church in his diocese. Two lady secretaries kindly handled the immense amount of correspondence that now began to pour in from all over the world, and made this their special ministry.
Destined later to become an outstanding world-wide Pentecostal preacher was Smith Wigglesworth, then leader of Bowland Street Mission, Bradford, and a master-plumber, who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the sign of tongues in All Saints’ Vicarage on Tuesday, October 28th, 1907.
According to Brother Wigglesworth’s own testimony he received an outstanding blessing, which up till then he had considered to be the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (in July, 1893) and this had been accompanied by a manifestation of special gifts of ministry to the sick, and a constant seeking to bring others to Jesus. But from time to time his reading of the New Testament led him to believe that there could, and should, be an even more scriptural Pentecostal experience, and he attended various Conventions, yet without finding anything satisfying. So in October, 1907, he and a friend decided to go to Sunderland, having been encouraged by the reports of what God was doing there. They found, he says, “the enemy very busy discouraging believers”: but they went with an open mind, praying much to be convinced if there was anything contrary to the glory of God.
The story of Mr. Wigglesworth’s personal Pentecost should be given in his own words.” On Sunday morning, October 26th, after waiting upon God, I went to the Salvation Army meeting, Roker Avenue, . . . after praying, the glory of God covered me. I was conscious at the same time of much of the experience I believe Daniel had in his tenth chapter. After this I regained strength to kneel, and continued in the Holy Ghost glow all the day, still realising a mightier work to follow. I went to All Saints’, to the Communion Service, and after this was led to wait in the Spirit, many things taking place in the waiting meetings that continued to bring me to a hungry feeling for holy righteousness. At about II a.m., on the Tuesday at All Saints’ Vicarage . . . the fire fell and burned in me till the Holy Spirit revealed absolute purity before God. . . . My body became full of light and holy presence, and in the revelation I saw an empty Cross, and at the same time the Jesus I loved and adored crowned in the Glory in a reigning position. The glorious remembrance of those moments is beyond my expression to give — when I could not find words to express, then an irresistible Power filled me and moved my being till I found to my glorious astonishment I was speaking in other tongues clearly. After this a burning love for everybody filled my soul . . . . To-day I am actually living in the Acts of the Apostles’ time almost I am persuaded to believe that twenty years is not too long to wait for the holy anointing of the Holy Ghost.”
In later years Mr. Wigglesworth was constrained to enter upon a remarkable ministry that took him to all the five continents. Huge crowds, sometimes having to be controlled by special police, gathered in Scandinavia, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and America in response to his absolutely fearless preaching of faith and the willingness of Christ to perform miracles to-day. Much of this can be read in his book’ Ever increasing Faith’ . * (See also Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith. Stanley H. Frodsham. 1948) Brother Wigglesworth has always remained unique in his ministry, his methods, and his personality, but he is beloved by thousands all over the world, and has continued to the end an outstanding character in the Pentecostal Movement. His vigour in old age has been amazing. A special telegram of greeting for his 80th birthday was sent from the great Stockholm Conference in 1939.
The Revival in Scandinavia.
In January, 1907, Pastor Lewi Pethrus in Sweden picked up a Stockholm newspaper with a picture of T. B. Barratt of Norway, and an article describing how a remarkable revival had broken out there, and people were talking in tongues as on the Day of Pentecost. He said to his helper, “I am going to Christiania (Oslo) to-morrow.” To those who assured him of a welcome back to his Baptist Church in Sweden he said: “I will never come back again unless the Lord baptises me with the Holy Spirit.” God met such intense earnestness in seeking, and he received that for which he had so long been yearning. Returning to Sweden with a transformed ministry he commenced what was destined finally to become one of the most outstanding ministries not only of his own country, but of the world, and certainly of the Pentecostal Movement. Before very long thousands and thousands had received the baptism of the Spirit, accompanied by speaking with tongues in Sweden. Great meetings were held in Gothenburg as well as Stockholm, and indeed all over the country.
In June, 1907, T. B. Barratt visited Copenhagen, Denmark, and a remarkable incident of his ministry was the conversion of the great Danish actress, Anna Larssen. This provoked a storm of opposition and produced a stir in the Press and throughout the country. Pastor Barratt was mobbed by the young Socialists. The doctors apprehended Anna Larssen for observation as they concluded that something must have gone wrong with her mind. Some said it was a kind of “hysterical spell.” After six weeks she was allowed her liberty, and one professor actually declared after the examination that she was the only really sane person in the place! These happenings only tended to increase the Revival in Scandinavia.
Finland also felt the blessing and a great Pentecostal work started there too. Their paper is still called Ristin Voilto, which is Finnish for “The Victory of the Cross,” which has been the name of Pastor Barratt’s own paper in Norway. When the present writer visited Finland in 1939, it was computed that there were 25,000 Pentecostal people in that little land.
Mention must also be made of Holland, where there were some who had received papers telling them of what God was doing over in America, and set themselves to definite prayer and Bible searching on the matter. On October 27th, 1907, the Lord filled Mrs. Polman of Amsterdam with the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking with tongues. Her husband, who was leader of a small assembly in that city, received his own baptism of the Spirit at the first Sunderland Convention in England in 1908. Immediately their hall in Amsterdam became too small to hold the people, and they twice had to move into larger halls. For several years there was an intimate connection between the Dutch work under the leadership of the Polmans, and the English Movement, and there was frequent interchange of ministry. The first Dutch Pentecostal missionaries went out in connection with the British Pentecostal Missionary Union.
The Outpouring at Mukti, India.
The name of that great Indian Christian woman, Pandita Ramabai, is well-known and justly revered among Christians everywhere. Her saintly character, her gifts of administration, the great work done in her home for 2,000 widows and orphans at Mukti, have been appreciated by all. In 1907 there occurred an outstanding Pentecostal outpouring there, both among the Indian girls, and then the missionaries and workers.
A veteran missionary who visited Mukti at that time states that he entered a room where about twenty of the Indian girls were praying, and presently heard one praying very distinctly in English. He was struck with astonishment, as he knew that no one in the room, except the lady missionary accompanying him, could speak English.” I opened my eyes,” says Albert Norton, “and within three feet of me, on her knees, with closed eyes and raised hands was a woman whom I had baptised at Kedgaon in 1899, and whom my wife and I had known intimately since as a devoted Christian worker.” A few other illiterate Marathi women and girls were speaking in English, and some speaking in other languages unknown to any present.” This was not gibberish,” continued Mr. Norton, “but it closely resembles the speaking of foreign languages to which I have listened but did not understand . . . . I was impressed as I would have been had I seen one, whom I knew to be dead, raised to life.”
It is worth recording that before the Spirit was thus poured out at Mukti there had been deep preparations of heart through times of conviction, confession, repentance, restitution, prayer and praise. The first speaking with tongues that was made public in India really occurred as the result of a mission held by one of the Mukti bands in the Church Missionary Society schoolroom in Anrangabad in 1906. A little girl of nine years was wonderfully anointed there, and on returning to the Church Missionary Society boarding school in Bombay she succeeded in getting four girls to join her daily in prayer for the Holy Spirit. On one of these, a girl of sixteen, the Spirit was poured out with the speaking with tongues. When it was discovered that she was speaking in a language she did not understand, Canon Haywood was called in. He suspected that it might be an experience analogous to the Day of Pentecost, and took advantage of being in such a cosmopolitan city as Bombay to try and find out what language she was speaking. Ultimately he discovered one who understood much of what was said. She was pleading with God for Libya. This incident was published in a Prayer Circular in September, 1906, and only during that month did these friends in India receive the first news of what was happening simultaneously in Los Angeles.
It was strange that in some quarters an attempt was made to affirm that the Pentecostal Revival that broke out so spontaneously at Mukti was all right, but that elsewhere it was all wrong. The leaders themselves at Mukti did not feel there was any such distinction, and warmly welcomed Pastor Barratt and others into their midst. Pandita Ramabai’s chief helper was Miss Minnie Abrams. The manifestations of the Spirit first occurred among the Indian girls, and the white missionaries were sceptical. Ultimately, however, they were compelled to recognise the hand of God, and humbly sought for themselves a similar blessing. God did not disappoint them, and many missionaries of various denominations received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with signs following.
Among these was Miss Louise F. Boes. She had gone out as a missionary in fellowship with a Baptist Church in London, and the present writer recalls with something like amusement the consternation of her good Baptist friends in London when the news arrived that she was speaking with tongues in India. They attributed it to sunstroke! Later she came home on furlough, and these old friends met her with some trepidation, wondering if she might not be “strange.” She proved to be perfectly sane, and radiantly happy in Christ, and through our introduction to her in Baptist circles my mother made her first contacts with the Pentecostal Movement that ultimately brought me in touch with it also. The author feels that he can justly regard Miss Boes as his “Pentecostal mother”. This lady is still labouring faithfully for the Lord in India, and charmed the British Assemblies during her last furlough by her quaint vivacity of style.
The Pentecostal Movement in India was not limited to Mukti. Almost at the same time God was working in Coonoor, Calcutta, Dhond, Allahabad, Gujerat and other places.
A review of the remarkable spread of the Pentecostal Movement throughout 1907 reveals that although God was using preachers like T. B. Barratt, and centres like Sunderland, to spread the glorious news of the outpourings, yet there was also occurring a truly spontaneous and simultaneous Revival on Pentecostal lines in widely separated places. The only agency was a deep hunger for such a Revival produced in the hearts of Christians by the Holy Spirit Himself.
The student should note, also, that the central attraction of the Movement consisted purely of a powerful individual spiritual experience. The stress was not on any system of doctrine, for Arminians and Calvinists found themselves on the same platforms, and teachers with diverse views upon Holiness or Eschatology were conscious of a new, deep fundamental unity in spirit. Neither was the emphasis upon any ideas about Church government, for Episcopalians, Methodists, Brethren, Salvation Army members, and indeed some from practically every section of the Church, participated in the Movement. There was no particular cult or method practised, for if there was one thing above another that marked the meetings it was their amazing diversity. It was not the magnetic personality of some great religious leader that forged the unity of the young Pentecostal Movement, nor any network of official organisations, for there was none. Yet the spiritual unity was outstanding, and the unanimous witness to “this one thing” the secret of its power.
The point of cohesion was that fine scriptural thing — the “unity of the Spirit” (Eph. iv. 3). God’s children sought with all their hearts the Promise of the Father as received in apostolic days, and believed that their prayers were answered. None of the inevitable extravagances and mistakes accompanying a young spiritual Movement disturbed their conviction, founded upon a powerful personal experience that agreed with the Word of God that “This is that” (Acts ii. 16).
THE VISITATION AT KILSYTH. “CHILDREN OF THE REVIVAL” IN WALES. THE HISTORIC SUNDERLAND CONVENTIONS. CHARACTER OF EARLY SEEKERS.
IN the little mining-town of Kilsyth, about twelve miles from Glasgow, a live company of believers had separated from the worldliness in the churches, and were meeting in a converted theatre known as “Westport Hall.” They had formed their own constitution, calling themselves the “Church of God.” They heard of what God was doing in Asuza Street, in far-away Los Angeles in 1906, and then nearer home in Sunderland during the autumn of 1907, and in their prayer meetings were crying unitedly, “Lord, come in a new way, and manifest Thyself in our midst.”
Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Boddy spoke at a “Faith Mission” Conference held in Edinburgh on January 1st and 2nd, 1908. Some believed, and some rejected, their testimony as to what God had wrought in Sunderland; but among the leaders of Christian work in Scotland who heard and received were Andrew Bell and Victor Wilson. The church at Westport Hall knew and esteemed these brethren, and invited them to come and explain about the Movement, and their own experience, for by that time they, also, were baptised in the Holy Spirit and speaking with tongues.
On Wednesday night, January 29th, Victor Wilson did so, and a “great impression was made on the meeting.” It was decided to hold a special meeting on the Friday night. Meanwhile Mr. Wilson went home to Andrew Murdoch’s, the secretary, and while praying in the home about midnight the Holy Spirit fell on Mr. Murdoch, and he began to speak in a new tongue. The following night William Hutchison, who later became the leader, went to see him and immediately on his embracing Brother Murdoch he also was filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with tongues.
On the Friday night eleven brothers and sisters received the blessing, while on the ever-memorable night of Saturday, February ist, 1908, “the Fire fell” and between thirty and forty were prostrated under the power of God, and all received a scriptural “Pentecost.” Crowds flocked to the hall, which seats about 500, and those who could not possibly get inside climbed up to the windows. Probably 200 were baptised in the Holy Spirit about that time. There were remarkable manifestations of divine power.
The work at Westport Hall has flourished to this day, and as recently as 1934 nearly fifty of the younger members of the Assembly received the fulness of the Spirit inside one week of renewed Pentecostal Revival. Mr. Harry Tee, and other ruling elders of this fine Assembly, are among those who received when young men in the famous outpouring of 1908.
During that year, and those immediately following, the Pentecostal Movement spread rapidly throughout Scotland. The work at Kilsyth drew seekers from every direction and it also was an easy journey to Sunderland. Mr. and Mrs. Beruldsen of Edinburgh were among those who attended that Faith Mission Convention in the New Year of 1908. Mr. Beruldsen was born in Norway, and so was keenly interested in the ministry of T. B. Barratt. Following the Convention they both became so hungry for blessing that they made a special private journey to Sunderland, and there received the baptism of the Spirit with the sign of tongues. On returning to Edinburgh they opened their beautiful home in Murrayfield for waiting meetings, and commenced a mission at Leith Docks. Very shortly three of their children — Mr. John Beruldsen, Mrs. Bristow, and Mrs. Gulbrandsen went to China as some of the earliest Pentecostal missionaries from Great Britain. Mr. John Beruldsen went out in 1910, and is our senior British Pentecostal missionary.
In another part of Edinburgh, Mrs. MacPherson, who had received a miraculous healing, also commenced Pentecostal meetings in her home, where many were blessed. John Miller led a virile work in Glasgow. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Bell (the compiler of “Songs of Victory”) ministered in Dunfermline, where many received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Mr. and Mrs. D. H. Small were leading a similar work at East Wemyss, Fifeshire, while quite a flourishing assembly existed at that time in Stirling under the joint leadership of Brothers Mair and Millie. Mr. Victor Wilson was greatly used of God. Centres sprang up in Dundee, North Berwick, Galashiels, Clydebank, Airdrie, Motherwell, and many villages throughout Scotland had their little waiting bands whose lives God was touching with blessing and power.
The years brought an inevitable sifting and while some stood firm and pressed on, others fell back. The writer and his wife recall a moving incident twenty years after in their home in Edinburgh when old John Martin of Motherwell met Thomas Myerscough of Preston with an iron handgrip, and the words, “May you stand the test, till He come.” Not long afterwards both those grand old veterans passed into the Presence of the King.’ They had “stood the test,” and maintained an unwavering testimony to the end.
In the city of Belfast, in Ireland, there were those who had been waiting upon God for a Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Ghost ever since they had heard of what God was doing in Los Angeles. They greatly rejoiced when the news came that God had commenced working nearer home in England. Robert J. Kerr crossed over and spent twelve days in Sunderland over Christmas, 1907, and while there the Lord baptised him with the Holy Ghost and fire with the sign of tongues. The next Easter a few of these Irish friends visited Kilsyth, and caught the holy flame. Pentecostal meetings were very soon established in the North of Ireland, and a number were rejoicing in the fulness of the Spirit in 1908. There is also mention of a Pentecostal interest in Dublin, but the day of Ireland’s greater visitation was yet to come.
The “Children of the Revival” in Wales.
When the great Welsh Revival of 1904 began to subside it left many outside the conservative element in the churches who longed to carry on the good work, and press on into all the fulness of God. These “children of the revival” as they were called, formed a definite and formative spiritual element in the land of their fathers at that time. Outstanding among their leaders was Seth Joshua. The writer has a sacred cause for remembering that good man, in that it was while he was conducting a Mission in Finsbury Park Congregational Church, London, N., in October, 1905, that he personally accepted Christ as his Saviour. Seth Joshua encouraged a “Forward Movement” among these hungry hearts from the Revival, and to help forward the purpose instituted a series of Conventions at Neath, largely on Keswick lines. These proved an undoubted step in the working of the Spirit of God in Wales.
Some of the churches also nursed the fire of revival, kept their meetings “open”; engaged in much open air preaching and encouraged cottage prayer meetings. Among these was the English Congregational Church at Waunllwyd, near Ebbw Vale, of which Thomas Madog Jeffreys was the pastor. In November, 1907, a mission was conducted in this church by A. Moncur Niblock, of London, who boldly taught the full truth about the Pentecostal blessing, even though he had not, at that time, received the baptism of the Spirit himself. Subsequently Mr. Niblock received at Sunderland, and on a further visit to Waunllwyd they were all greatly stirred to renew their seeking for a local “Pentecost” as he narrated to them his experiences. Mr. Niblock was accompanied by A. H. Post, an American missionary on his way out to Ceylon, who had received his baptism of the Spirit at Los Angeles in 1906. On December 22nd, 1907, at a wonderful praise meeting held in the study of the pastor, the Spirit fell on one of the brethren. The pastor himself soon received also, and so did a few others.
Then followed wonderful months at Waunllwyd. On his birthday, April 16th, 1908, T. M. Jeffreys records how the leader of a neighbouring Salvation Corps was baptised in the Spirit. He wrote: “As we knelt down together to wait upon God I asked for this dear brother’s baptism as a birthday present from the Throne. Hallelujah! I could not have obtained a better. The room was filled with glory, and I shall never forget the shining face of this faithful warrior in Christ’s army as the Lord spoke through him.”
On the Easter Tuesday night four young men went over from Dowlais to Waunllwyd. They had been quietly tarrying in one another’s homes, but on this night, while sitting side by side on the back seat in the church, they were all four baptised in the Holy Ghost, speaking with new tongues. On the following Saturday evening in Dowlais the Spirit was poured out upon the company that gathered there for fellowship, and a number began to speak with tongues, and from then on there began a steady stream of Pentecostal blessing in that locality.
One of the four young men to receive the Spirit on Easter Tuesday night at Waunllwyd was Price Davies, and he, with others, used to visit Maesteg and the home of the now world-famous Jeffreys family. It was Price Davies who had the privilege of baptising in water both Stephen Jeffreys, George Jeffreys, and the former’s young son Edward. At that time Stephen Jeffreys was still working in the colliery, while George Jeffreys held a position in The Co-operative Stores.
Hungry hearts came from every direction to Waunllwyd in those days; while from Dowlais the work spread to Aberaman, adjoining Aberdare. “Alfy” and John Griffiths used to go over to Dowlais, and after a time a number of these brethren from Aberaman received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, among whom was “Danny” Davies, for many years the beloved pastor of the local Pentecostal Assembly.
On an identical day when the Spirit was being poured out so copiously in Waunllwyd there occurred a simultaneous outpouring at Gorseinon, away beyond Swansea, and near Loughor, once the home of Evan Roberts. One of the brethren baptised that day in the Spirit at Gorseinon actually prophesied to the effect that the Spirit had also fallen upon the waiting band at Waunllwyd, over in Monmouthshire.
Among those to receive at Gorseinon were some brethren from an assembly in Tonypandy, in the heart of the Rhondda Valley, who had gathered together under the leadership of George Vale. These hungry “children of the revival” were resolved to nurse the Fire of Revival, and had commenced Conventions among themselves every Easter, Whitsun, and August. They had formed an assembly in Tonypandy about nine months before the Pentecostal Movement broke out. After the blessing received at Gorseinon the Tonypandy Assembly soon became what was probably the first completely Pentecostal Assembly in Wales. Mrs. George Vale received the Spirit in May, 1908.
There was a time of great blessing at Seth Joshua’s Convention in Neath at Whitsuntide, 1908, and this seemed to pave the way for still more to follow. The Pentecostal showers began to fall at Brynhyfryd, Swansea, where Mrs. George Griffiths of Cwmtwrch received a few days before her friend Mrs. Vale.
From then on the Pentecostal Movement spread rapidly all through South Wales, though unfortunately not without some regrettable scenes of extravagance which the daily press exploited to the disadvantage of the work. It was not to be surprised at, that among these “children of the revival,” temperamentally disposed to emotionalism, and left by the ministers like sheep without a shepherd, there should arise those who knew not how to control the deep surges of pure emotion occasioned by the new blessing. But God watched over His own work to save it from destruction.
All eyes were now turned towards Sunderland, from whence so many had entered into Pentecostal blessing either directly or indirectly. In May, 1908, an advertisement was inserted in the Cardiff Echo by some unknown friend whose initials were “T. B.” worded as follows —
“PENTECOST WITH SIGNS. TO ALL IN SYMPATHY: SIX DAYS’ CONVENTION IN SUNDERLAND: JuNE 6th TO 11th. WHITSUN HOLIDAYS. CHEAP EXCURSIONS.”
The Historic Sunderland Conventions.
Alexander A. Boddy had sent out — “In the name of the Lord, and in obedience we believe to His promptings,” an invitation to a special Whitsuntide Conference at Sunderland in 1908. Such a conclusive blessing of God bore witness to this step that these Whitsuntide Pentecostal Conventions forthwith became an annual arrangement. In the providence of God it was permitted to hold a series of exactly seven of these memorable Conferences, from the years 1908 to 1914 inclusive. To those who enjoyed the privilege of attending them they remained among the outstanding memories of a lifetime, and the Parish Hall of All Saints’, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, became ever after hallowed ground. From the point of view of the early history of the Pentecostal Movement in the British Isles the Sunderland Conventions must occupy the supreme place in importance.
The attendances were never large, as Conventions sometimes are reckoned, only numbering a few hundreds at the most. In later years, however, the hall became packed out, and numbers had to be turned away. The importance of the Sunderland Conventions was not in their size but in their formative influence in attracting and helping to mould not only the immediate leaders of the multitudinous little Pentecostal meetings which were springing up all over the land, but the younger men who were destined to become leaders of the Movement when it came to years of maturity. Moreover, the Conventions provided a needed focal point for those who either had received, or were seeking, the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the scriptural evidence throughout the British Isles. Not only so, but they almost immediately became international in character, and attracted notable leaders of spiritual work from the Continent and America.
It is interesting to record that admission to the 1908 Conference was by ticket. These were given freely to those who could sign the following, which was printed on the Admission Card—
“I declare that I am in full sympathy with those who are seeking’ Pentecost’ with the sign of tongues. I also undertake to accept the ruling of the Chairman.”
A careful Conference Programme was arranged, but it is worthwhile to notice the excellent recommendations which accompanied it, to ensure both order and liberty: —
I. Prayer and praise should occupy at least one third of even our meetings for Conference.
It is suggested that everyone should make a point of being very punctual, and, if possible, to have a quiet time of prayer before the meeting, and that there be as little talking in the room before the meeting as possible, but silent prayer only, while waiting.
2. As to choruses, etc., it is suggested that, as far as possible, they shall be left to the Leader to commence or control, and friends are asked to pray (silently) that he may be led aright. Confusion is not always edifying, though sometimes the Holy Spirit works so mightily that there is a Divine flood which rises above barriers.
3. The Chairman’s ruling should be promptly and willingly obeyed in cases of difficulty. There should at those moments, if they occur, be much earnest prayer (in silence) that God may guide aright and get glory through all.
It is evident that the Conveners already had become familiar with some of the unique situations likely to arise in Pentecostal gatherings. The great blessing of the Holy Spirit that rested upon the Sunderland Conventions certainly appears to endorse the wisdom and propriety of such rulings. Over the platform, in very large letters, were the words, “FERVENT IN SPIRIT.” The Scriptures reveal that there is no essential conflict between the sacred Fire of the Spirit of God and all things being done “decently and in order.”
A. A. Boddy proved to be a master of assemblies, possessing a commanding and gracious presence, a sonorous voice, and a background of ministerial experience, all anointed by a personal participation in that Pentecostal experience into which he was so anxious to help others. There was able ministry of the Word from both British and overseas preachers, but there was also care that preaching alone should not be the sole object of the meetings. Ample time was allocated for prayer, and, more particularly, as the spiritual tide deepened, for worship.
All were free to take part, though the Conferences were quick to sense those who were not “in the Spirit.” There was frequent exquisite singing in the Spirit (I. Cor. xiv. 15), when almost the whole congregation would be swept with inspired chanting in perfect harmony, like an angelic choir, some in their own, and some in other, tongues; yet all in the one Spirit, spontaneous and free. Those were heavenly occasions, and it is little wonder that those privileged to participate returned to their homes in distant places with their hearts burning within them. The sense of the Presence of God became overwhelming at times. From those early Sunderland Conventions the Pentecostal flame was carried into practically every corner of the British Isles.
The feature which reporters found most attractive for their purpose of news was the speaking with tongues. In the Convention meetings this was accompanied by the gift of interpretation of tongues, so that all might understand and be edified (I. Cor. xiv, 5, 27). In those early days of the Movement there was a tendency to seek after identification of the languages spoken, doubtless because of traditional, but mistaken and unscriptural, views that the gift of tongues was “for preaching the gospel to the heathen.” More careful study of the New Testament made clear that tongues were never so used in apostolic days, for even on the Day of Pentecost the “tongues” occurred before the multitude came together (see Acts ii. 6). The crowd simply overheard that which was noised abroad from the house where the recipients had been sitting, and the multitude was not addressed directly until Peter stood up to preach in the language obviously understood by all. Moreover, in the Church, God has given an equally supernatural gift for interpretation, without which the tongues remain literally unknown (I. Cor. xii. 10). The recognition of the languages spoken at Pentecost evidently was intended in the Divine economy as all part of the special phenomena marking that special day.
Nevertheless for the purpose of a sign God does sometimes cause the language given by the Spirit to be recognised by one or more present (I. Cor. xiv. 22). One memorable instance of this, that occurred in one of the later Sunderland Conventions, is thus recorded by Mr. Howard Carter, who was present: “A brother under the power of the Spirit gave a peculiar cry and then shortly afterwards a message in tongues. Mrs. Crisp interpreted the message. It happened that in that convention there was a missionary from the Congo, Miss Alma Doering. She testified that the language spoken was that of the Kifloti tribe of the Congo. She said that in the Congo sentries were put at certain places and when an important message was to be sent from one tribe to another they would send out a warning note. It was a call to attention. This brother under the power of the Spirit had given the call to attention before the message came forth. She further stated that the interpretation embodied the message that he had given in this language of the Congo.” For quite an impressive number of similar instances the student is referred to Stanley H. Frodsham’s book “With Signs Following.”
During these Conventions there was always some special time allocated for teaching and conference concerning the truth about Divine Healing, for although not directly and essentially a part of the distinctive Pentecostal witness to the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with signs following, yet from the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement there has been a recognised place for the intimate relationship of faith for physical healing arising from the same grace of the risen and glorified Christ who bestows the Holy Spirit. There were continuous testimonies to Divine Healing among those who became associated with the Pentecostal Movement, although it was only in later years in connection with the period of great Evangelistic Campaigns, that Divine Healing took such a large place in the Pentecostal testimony. There was much more emphasis in the earlier days upon the Baptism of the Spirit and His gifts. The message of Divine Healing for the body had been gradually coming into prominence, through much bitter opposition and ridicule, for many years before the commencement of the Pentecostal Movement.
The Publication of “Confidence.”
In the spring of 1908 Alexander A. Boddy had published freely the first issue of a little magazine which he called ‘Confidence’. Although described as a “Pentecostal Paper for Great Britain,” it rapidly acquired a world-wide circulation, and from the first aimed at keeping its readers informed of news of the Pentecostal Movement all over the world.
In his opening article the Editor affirmed that the paper was “meant to be a means of grace and encouragement. Encouragement to lonely ones and scattered bands, to those who are attacked by doubt and difficulty, but longing to be loyal to the Almighty Deliverer. They will find from these columns that they are not alone, as regards even human fellowship, but there are many who have perfect ‘confidence’ that this work is of God, and who will be rejoiced to know that His Pentecostal blessing is spreading all the time.”
“What hath God Wrought?” Mr. Boddy went on to say: “A year ago the writer only knew of some five or six persons in Great Britain who were in the experience. At the time of printing (April, 1908) there are probably more than 500.” After the formation of the Pentecostal Missionary Union Confidence became the official organ of that body, and for several years it was the authoritative voice of British Pentecostal Leadership. A rare anointing rested upon those early issues, and they must have been edited and sent forth with much prayer from the little group at Sunderland. They were eagerly secured, and then highly treasured, by hungry hearts all over the land. I remember, as a young Congregationalist, finding my mother reading loaned copies of Confidence almost surreptitiously.
The contents must have appeared strange indeed to those accustomed to the ordinary type of religious periodical. But God honoured Confidence in a special way, and was pleased to make it one of His principal channels at that time through which to bring many in touch with Pentecostal blessing.
The Pentecostal Movement on the Continent.
While all this was happening in Britain the Movement was making great strides on the Continent. One outstanding feature of the Sunderland Conventions right up to 1914 was the large group of German Pentecostal pastors who came every year, and whose ministry always formed a dominant side of the Bible teaching. There were reciprocal visits from the British Pentecostal leaders to the larger German Pentecostal Conventions, and in some respects the two works grew side by side for a short time. Important manifestoes were signed jointly.
The two most prominent early leaders of the Pentecostal Movement in Germany were Pastors Paul and Vogen. Jonathan Paul, of Berlin, journeyed to Norway in the beginning of the Pentecostal Revival there and received a great blessing and began to speak in tongues at Friedrichstadt. He was a clergyman of the Established Church (Lutheran) of Germany, but resigned his charge in order to be free for itinerating. Pastor Voget was minister of a church of 3,000 members at Bunde. Jonathan Paul was a great holiness preacher and teacher, and was called “the unsurpassed exponent of perfect love.”
Just prior to the Pentecostal Revival his fervent preaching in the industrial district of the Rhur resulted in the conversion of over 2,000 and stirred many believers to renewed consecration. It was among these that the Pentecostal Movement commenced, and the first German Pentecostal Conference was held at Mulheim in 1908. Other important conferences were held at Hamburg, but Mulheim steadily became the headquarters of the Movement in Germany, and by 1910 the Assembly there, under the leadership of Emil Homburg, had attained a membership of 1,100. An official organisation was formed, and one of their first services was to publish an extremely fine Pentecostal hymn book called Pfingst Jubel. Martin Gensichen, who became known in the Sunderland Conventions as the “Hallelujah Pastor,” was very gifted musically, and consecrated his talents wholly to the Lord.
There were great manifestations of supernatural power in the beginning of the Pentecostal work in Germany, and some notable miracles are reported to have taken place. By 1912 the country “was honeycombed with Pentecostal missions and assemblies” and thousands had received the baptism of the Spirit, while His supernatural gifts were being manifested in a notable degree.
At this time the Movement was also spreading in Switzerland, and also among the missionaries in China several were receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost with signs following.
A Revival in South China.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance published in August, 1908, an interesting account of a Pentecostal Revival in connection with their Wuchow Schools. In March, at the time of the opening of these schools, they had two weeks’ marvellous meetings, marked by a time of deep heart-searching before God. The regular order had to be set aside; confession of long-hidden sins, united prayer for pardon, and then great joy in believing were the main features. Often many were praying at the same time, and the meetings continued until after midnight.
When the schools re-opened for the second term of study there was a further step of blessing. At a quiet Saturday night meeting, without any special exhortation or prayer on that line, a number began to speak with other tongues. It was an entirely new experience, both to the Chinese and the foreigners, but they recognised the manifestations that now occurred in their meetings as similar to those they had read about in other parts of the world. These missionaries felt keenly alive to the dangers accompanying outward physical manifestations, and sought earnestly for the gift of “discerning of spirits” in order to guard the work. At the same time they recorded that “we cannot for a moment doubt that a genuine and profound blessing has indeed come to many of our brethren and sisters, both foreign and native, and this was not merely a temporary joyous ecstasy, but a blessing which has had lasting fruit in the life and has given power and blessing in service such as was never experienced before.”
This outpouring was quite spontaneous, and without the intervention of any human leader. The wise attitude of the responsible missionaries was most commendable, and in welcome contrast to the fear and prejudice so often exhibited.
The Character of the Early Seekers
When A. A. Boddy recorded in the first issue of Confidence that at that time there were probably 500 who had received the Pentecostal blessing in Great Britain he added the significant words, “This is quite different to 500 conversions.” Those who had thus received were almost all of them experienced Christians, and many of them active workers. Their influence, therefore, was likely to be much more far-reaching than that of young converts.
This fact is of considerable importance. A profound difference is to be understood by the student as between those who tarried for the gift of the Spirit in the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement, especially, perhaps in Great Britain, and the multitudes of new converts who often seemed to receive so easily in later years. This factor is likely to have an important bearing upon the trend of the Movement.
Almost all those who gathered in those comparatively small early Conventions, or still smaller prayer groups were Christians of mature spiritual experience. Many of them were missionaries or workers, and they had often tasted a previous experience of the Spirit’s grace and power in connection with the Holiness and Keswick Movements. In such cases the baptism of the Holy Spirit came to those who already knew much of His sanctifying power. Even, then they usually experienced a more or less prolonged time of deep heart-searching before the Lord, and knew much of emptying before there was a filling. Moreover much that had to be emptied was an accumulation of previous religious opinion and self-righteousness in human tradition and ministerial experience. Those early waiting meetings were both glorious and awful. It could truly be affirmed that the pioneers of the Pentecostal Movement paid a great price for their experience. Even then there were some who went back in face of the storm of opposition occasioned by such a challenging spiritual movement. To those who stood firm their personal experience became more precious than any words can tell. Later years saw an amazing growth of the Movement, but the battle and the glory of those who were the pioneers will ever remain theirs, and theirs alone. God alone knows the full story, but The Day will reveal it.
THE PENTECOSTAL MISSIONARY UNION. - SION COLLEGE. - THE South COAST. - PRESTON AND THE NORTH. - THE METHODIST PENTECOSTAL CHURCH OF CHILE.
ONE conspicuous result of the new Pentecostal Movement in the British Isles, as elsewhere, was the kindling of an ardent zeal for foreign missions, and the need became apparent for some kind of Pentecostal missionary organisation. Young men and women were coming forward in an increasing stream who evidently needed some kind of training before they left; whilst experienced missionaries connected with existing Societies were finding themselves forced out on account of coming into fresh blessing through the Pentecostal Movement. Strange indeed seems the anomaly contained in the last statement.
The Pentecostal Missionary Union.
A memorable meeting therefore was held on January 9th, 1909, at All Saints’ Vicarage, Sunderland, when the little company of leaders present decided to form the “Pentecostal Missionary Union.” Rev. Alexander A. Boddy was in the chair, but at a subsequent meeting on October 14th, when the first official records begin, the Minutes record that Mr. Cecil Polhill was elected President — a post which he retained until the Pentecostal Missionary Union became merged with Assemblies of God in 1925. Other members present at that October meeting, besides Messrs. Boddy and Polhill, were T. H. Mundell (a London solicitor), and D. H. Small of East Wemyss. Andrew Bell of Dumfermline was also on the Council. W. H. Sandwith of Bracknell, Berks, became the first Treasurer.
The principles of the Pentecostal Missionary Union were very largely formulated upon the model of the China Inland Mission. This is not surprising in view of the fact that Cecil Polhill was also a member of the Council of the China Inland Mission. It was therefore what is generally known as a “faith mission,” and the Directors did not guarantee any fixed amount of support to workers, but sought faithfully to distribute the funds available. It was undenominational in character; and missionaries were at liberty to adopt whatever form of church government they personally believed to be most scriptural in any churches formed by the blessing of God through their ministry. The decision of the Council was to be regarded as final in any appeals from the Field, and the Council managed the affairs of the Union. New members were chosen and appointed by the existing Council as was deemed necessary. The Pentecostal nature of the new Society was affirmed by candidates being required to hand in a written statement as to their soundness in the Faith on all the usually accepted fundamental truths held by evangelical believers, adding — “the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with the sciptural signs.”
It appears that the first missionaries to go forth under the auspices of the Pentecostal Missionary Union were Miss Kathleen Miller of Exeter, and Miss Lucy James of Bedford, who sailed for India on February 24th, 1909. Miss Miller had been a missionary in India before but now returned under Pentecostal auspices. Miss James went out for the first time, intending to go to Pandita Ramabai’s at Mukti. A farewell meeting was arranged by D. H. Small at East Wemyss, when Cecil Polhill and John Martin were also present. It is interesting to note that Miss Boes was also home on furlough at the time, and joined the party in Scotland. At that time Miss Boes was with the Indian Village Mission, but was baptised in the Spirit.
The first four missionaries really trained by the Pentecostal Missionary Union went out in 1910: one of them being, as already noted. Mr. John C. Beruldsen, who laboured faithfully for over thirty-five years in North China, principally at Kalgan.
A further party opened up extensive work for the Pentecostal Missionary Union in the Province of Yunnan, South-West China in 191I, where a large field was allocated to them. In the same year the Pentecostal Missionary Union commented work of their own in India. Mr. F. D. Johnstone, later of the Congo Evangelistic Mission, opened up work for the Pentecostal Missionary Union in the Belgian Congo in 1914. But the particular emphasis of the Pentecostal Missionary Union was always upon China, and reaching the closed land of Tibet. A specially urgent emphasis was placed upon taking the gospel to the last few lands that had never heard, and a further party went to the North-West Frontier of India, in an attempt to reach Afghanistan. The main body of missionaries from the Pentecostal Missionary Union always remained in Yunnan, however, where official Field Headquarters were established in the provincial capital of Yunnan-fu (now Kunming). The Dutch section commenced work in Likiang, near Tibet, where they were later joined by British missionaries.
The choice of Cecil Polhill, Esq., of Howbury Hall, Bedford, as the President of the Pentecostal Missionary Union was almost inevitable. After many years of devoted personal missionary service among Chinese and Tibetans he had recently returned to England owing to duty to his family and the large estate. Originally he had gone out to China twenty years before as one of the famous “Cambridge Seven”—a party of university men who had left all to become missionaries. C. T. Studd was another of that company.
Mr. Polhill had visited the outpouring of the Spirit at Los Angeles and had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost with signs following at a quiet meeting in a private house there. He quickly became friendly with Alexander Boddy, and for the first ten years of the Pentecostal Movement in the British Isles these two men were the most outstanding figures. In many ways they were ideally complementary, Mr. Polhill lacking Mr. Boddy’s commanding presence and marked ability in chairmanship, but providing many other things equally needful in leading a young revival movement.
Mr. Polhill was pre-eminent as a zealous soul-winner. Although one of the local gentry, he would often be seen preaching with others in the streets of Bedford. He quickly devoted his talents, his personal influence, and great wealth to the young Pentecostal Movement in Britain, and sponsored local Conventions in London, Edinburgh, and other strategic centres all over the country. Although his home duties prevented him returning permanently to China as a missionary he paid heartening visits to the young Pentecostal Mission Union missionaries on the Field. He retained his place on the Council of the China Inland Mission until his death.
Sion College, London, E. C.
With his trained missionary eye for a strategic centre for gospel work Mr. PolhiII soon concentrated his efforts upon London. He first commenced meetings at 9, Gloucester Place, W., and then went on to hold meetings at mid-day for business men in the Cannon Street Hotel; and then in Eccleston Hall. It was in March, 1909, however, that he commenced the well-known regular Pentecostal Meetings in Sion College on the Thames Embankment near Black-friars that still continue in Bloomsbury Chapel. A hearty invitation was given to “all seeking Salvation, Sanctification, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and Divine Healing.”
A word about Sion College may be of interest. It was founded over three hundred years ago by a vicar of St. Dunstan’s, in Feet Street, Dr. Thomas White, who left £3,000 for establishing an almshouse for twenty people, and for buying a house where clergy could “maintain love by conversing together”. Sion College, therefore, is really a club without an entrance fee, and with a modern subscription of a guinea and a half for incumbents, and a guinea for clergymen who have no benefice.” Its first place was in London Wall, and in comparatively modem times the present charming building was erected. The beautiful hall is available for religious gatherings, and Pentecostal people have appreciated the gracious hospitality of this Church of England establishment for many years. They have happily maintained the vision of the founder “to maintain love by conversing together.”
Mr. and Mrs. Smith Wigglesworth of Bradford were among the very first to speak at the Pentecostal Meetings in Sion College, and on that occasion about a dozen received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. Another early visitor, in May, 1909, was Daniel Awrey, of Oklahoma, U.S.A., who at that time was concluding a fruitful journey around the world. At Sion College in 1909, Daniel Awrey stated that he first spoke with tongues eighteen years before (this would have been in 1891). When the Revival came to Los Angeles he was in Arizona. He at once journeyed to Asuza Street, and found himself quite at home with what was going on there. The regular Pentecostal meetings at Sion College soon became recognised as a place where one might expect to hear welcome speakers and witnesses to the truth from all parts of the world, its central position in London being ideal for that purpose. So it always remained.
It was Cecil Polhill who also introduced subsidiary meetings in London to the annual Whitsuntide Conventions in Sunderland. The various overseas speakers usually found it convenient to minister in London also, either just before or just after Whitsuntide in the North. The first such London Conventions were held in the Holborn Hall or Caxton Hall, but finally, when the Sunderland Conventions ceased after 1914, they became fixed in the beautiful Kingsway Hall of the Methodists, and have been held there at Whitsuntide ever since. Mr. Polhill, instead of Mr. Boddy, then became the chairman.
At that time there were only a few little Pentecostal Assemblies existing in London, so the central meetings were the more welcome. Mr. H. E. Cantel, however, was carrying on work in Islington, N., and there was a small meeting out at Plumstead, S. E., with which Mr. W. T. Greenstreet was already associated. A Holiness Mission in Croydon, led by H. Inchcombe, had embraced the Pentecostal testimony; and with this was associated T. H. Mundell, Esq., whose city offices in Godliman Street, beneath the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral, housed many an early meeting of the Pentecostal Missionary Union Council.
Dean Tait, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, was an intimate friend of the parents of T. H. Mundell, to whom he became godfather. As a Christian solicitor, Mr. Mundell always laid his legal advice freely at the service of poorer members of the Body of Christ. He attended Sion College regularly; and retained his position as Missionary Secretary of the Pentecostal Missionary Union after it became merged with Assemblies of God, until advancing years compelled his resignation in 1929. He retained his place on the Council right until his death in 1934. Mr. Mundell was always uncompromising in his stand for the central truths of the Pentecostal Movement. He received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in his own home in September 1908. He says, “I awoke full of joy and praise. I lifted up both my arms in the dark (it was 6 a.m.), praising Jesus aloud, full of joy and peace, and whilst I was doing so the whole room seemed to be filled with the very Presence of God . . . I immediately got down on my knees at my bedside to worship God and thank Him, and in trying to praise Him I could no longer speak in my own language, but a volume poured from my heart in adoration and praise to God in various languages, and I seemed unable to speak in my own language.”
The South Coast
T. B. Barratt paid a return visit to England in 1909, having returned to Europe after a fruitful visit to Syria, Palestine and India.’ His Journal records “glorious meetings in Sion College.” Mrs. Carrie Judd Montgomery, the well-known American authoress and Christian worker, from Oakland, California, also spoke that day, and gripped the audience for an hour with her testimony to having received the fullness of blessing.
Following the 1909 Whitsuntide Convention at Sunderland, Mr. and Mrs. Barratt, with Mr. Boddy (Just embarking on a brief visit to America), Mr. Polhill and others went to Bournemouth. His Journal records how he stayed with “young Mr. Frodsham, the editor of a Pentecostal paper in this town, its name is Victory.” So it is evident that right at the outset of his Pentecostal experience Stanley H. Frodsham was consecrating his marked editorial ability to the Lord. At that time the Frodsham brothers rented three restaurants from the Bournemouth Corporation, but steadily refused to open on Sundays though it would have brought them much gain. A year or two later he finally emigrated to America, where he shared much of the struggle and privation, but also the glory, of pioneering the young work over there. His first wife was also an English woman, and after her death her husband wrote the story of her life in a charming little book called Jesus is Victor. Mr. Frodsham edited the Pentecostal Evangel, the official organ of Assemblies of God, U.S.A., and from the Gospel Publishing House there he exerted a world-wide influence through his consecrated pen. His name has become one of the best known throughout the Pentecostal Movement. He is now retired.
Stanley Frodsham received the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Sunderland, and thus describes his experience in his own style: “I can well remember when I came across that passage in Acts I. 5,’ Ye shall be baptised in the Holy Ghost not many days hence’ , I marked that verse in my Bible, and putting my finger on it, said’ Lord, please fulfil this promise in my life not many days hence.’ Shortly after I had an opportunity of taking a vacation, and for three weeks I gave myself to the Word and to prayer. It seemed by the end of, that time I was prayed up, and I took a 300-mile journey to Sunderland, where God had been graciously pouring out His Spirit. I said,’ Lord, I don’ t seem to have a prayer left in me, but wilt Thou please accept this railroad journey as a prayer 300 miles long?’ The following morning I wended my way to the home of Brother and Sister Boddy. After an hour of fellowship I was on my knees, and looking to the Lord Jesus Christ to do for me what He did for the one-hundred-and-twenty on the Day of Pentecost . . . the Spirit of the Lord literally fell upon me, and there was no need for anyone to tell me I had received Him. I knew it for myself. The Lord took away my English, and I praised Him in a way I had never praised Him before, and in another tongue as the Spirit of God gave utterance. From that day (1908) to this I have not had the slightest doubt that the Comforter has come.”
As early as 1902 a little company of believers used to meet daily for prayer in the home of B. W. Moser, Esq., in Southsea that God would pour out His Spirit upon His people “and establish a real Pentecostal Church in their midst.” During those six years they met with much opposition and discouragement, but they never wavered in their confidence that the nine gifts of the Spirit (I. Cor. xii. 8-10) were all part of the Divinely intended spiritual equipment of the Church. Mr. Moser was always an ardent teacher of holiness. On July 22nd, 1907 (before the revival that started in SunderIand that autumn), one of their number was baptised in the Holy Ghost and began to speak with tongues. By the following year others had received a similar blessing, and a definitely Pentecostal Assembly was established. Mr. Moser became one of the early members of the Pentecostal Missionary Union Council, and later Treasurer, which important position he continued to hold after the merging with Assemblies of God. He was a most acceptable speaker in the earlier official Conventions, and always took an uncompromising stand for the distinctive truths of the Pentecostal Movement. Although of a private nature, the little Assembly at Southsea has exerted a wide spiritual influence, and has been pre-eminent as a missionary centre.
Every Monday evening for some years Mr. Moser used to cross over to the Isle of Wight, and conduct a Pentecostal meeting in the Railway Mission at the back of Ryde.
To this place a Methodist local preacher conducted the writer when on holiday in the Island during the summer of 1912, and it was on that occasion that I first heard for myself the speaking with tongues that there had been so much talk about. I well remember that I had no personal difficulty in believing in the possible fact of a gift so plainly spoken about in the New Testament, and the manifestation that lovely summer’s evening in a rather stuffy little hall aroused in me neither fear nor resentment. We walked the four miles home mildly excited, and indeed were rather surprised when the keeper of a coffee-stall to whom we spoke on the way did not get converted on the spot!
Preston — Thomas Myerscough.
Among the first to receive the Pentecostal blessing at Sunderland was Thomas Mogridge, a Methodist Class leader, of Lytham, Lancashire; and remarkable meetings were held in his home during the winter of 1907 - 8.
During 1908 the ground was being prepared for what was destined to become a centre of far-reaching spiritual fruitfulness and influence, when a small company of devoted followers of the Lord Jesus were meeting together in Preston to seek’ the deeper things of God under the leadership of Mr. Thomas Myerscough, a local estate agent. They heard of the new so-called “Tongues Movement,” and a deputation of four went to Lytham to investigate.
“On leaving the meeting,” says Mr. Myerscough, “we stood together in the road, each of us testifying we had never before heard such glorifying of the Lord Jesus, nor such fervency in prayer.” For nine months more they continued to search the Scriptures, and became finally convinced that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had been lost to the Church through unbelief, and not because God had withdrawn them. Mr. Myerscough received the baptism of the Holy Ghost at the 1909 Sunderland Whitsuntide Convention. As a result a Pentecostal centre was established in Preston that has been second to none, perhaps in all the world, for its far-reaching fruitfulness to the glory of God. The foundation of the Congo Evangelistic Mission was one direct and glorious result, and the names of W. F. P. Baton, James Salter, and later of Edmund Hodgson, all three of the Preston Assembly, will ever be associated with an agency that the Lord has been pleased to use in the heart of Africa to establish hundreds of native assemblies, and bring thousands of heathen to a knowledge of Christ.
A few years later when for a short time the official Bible School of the Pentecostal Missionary Union was placed in Mr. Myerscough’s care at Preston, there were among the students both George Jeffreys and E. I. Phillips, who have been so mightily used in the British Isles in connection with the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance. Mr. Myerscough was an outstanding expositor of the Holy Scriptures, and all who enjoyed the privilege of coming under his influence have been well grounded in the Word of Truth. He played a large part in the formation of the Fellowship of Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland, and was always one of the Executive Presbytery. His personality was a benediction, and his wise counsel and mellow judgment were invaluable. He passed on to a full reward in 1932, a true “father in Christ” during one of those great Eastertide Conventions for which the Preston Assembly has become famous.
In Halifax, Yorkshire, another godly solicitor and his wife, Mr. and Mr. Walshaw, were also among the first to enter into the Pentecostal blessing. The flowing white beard of Mr. Walshaw always gave a patriarchal appearance to early Convention platforms. He lived to celebrate his ninetieth birthday with dear “Granny” Walshaw still at his side, the beloved friend and counsellor of untold numbers of younger women — and men too. Her intensely practical, yet spiritual, addresses with their rich seasoning of Yorkshire common-sense were a treat that all looked forward to in the early Pentecostal Conventions. At “Emmaus” in Halifax they established, not an “assembly” in the usual sense of the word, but rather a Missionary Prayer Band. From this enthusiastic company, largely composed of working-class people, the annual missionary offerings would sometimes amount to over £1,000. Local churches and chapels needing speakers could always depend on getting a good one from that happy and prayerful company.
The Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile.
During the spring of 1909 T. B. Barratt had conducted further great revival meetings in Sweden, when great crowds gathered in Orebro, and two pastors whose names later became prominent in the Pentecostal Movement — Pastor Ongman and Pastor Säeter, identified themselves sympathetically with the work. Paul Ongman, the former’s son, became Missionary Secretary in Stockholm for many years. Over I,000 participated that year in the Good Friday Communion Service in Oslo.
While in America that summer Pastor A. A. Boddy received a cordial invitation to lunch with Dr. A. B. Simpson at Nyack, N.Y. Mr. Simpson was the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a deeply spiritual American organization in whose Bible College several had received the Holy Ghost with scriptural signs. Mr. Simpson was very open-minded about the Pentecostal Movement, and wished to sympathise with all that was of God, and not limit the Lord at all in His workings. A number of his workers, including the Superintendent for Canada, had spoken with tongues. His personal attitude was that he could not receive physical manifestations alone as a test of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and naturally Pastor Boddy largely agreed. They parted with an invitation to Mr. Boddy to preach in the Alliance Tabernacle.
Just about that time, away in South America, a noteworthy Pentecostal outpouring was taking place that has produced such permanent results that a few years ago it was computed that a half of the evangelical believers in the Republic of Chile were Pentecostal.’ World Dominion’ for April. 1932, published a highly stimulating account of the matter in article entitled “Pentecost in Chile” and we cannot do better than have the story as therein told by the leader himself, W. C. Hoover.
“In the year 1907 the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Valparaiso received in the mail a booklet of some eighty pages entitled the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost and Fire.” A missionary in India, co-labourer with Pandita Ramabai in her great institution for girl waifs and widows, Miss Minnie Abrams, was the author, and had sent it to the pastor’s wife, who had been her schoolmate in a Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions.
Testimony began to flow in, correspondence was extended, and there was a veritable ‘cloud of witnesses’ to the fact that the Holy Spirit was coming upon the Lord’s children ‘as upon us at the beginning.’
“So we ‘set ourselves,’ like Daniel, to seek the Lord with fasting and prayer. During the year or more which had elapsed since receiving the booklet we had shared with our people the strange, good news. Now .... we purposed with our whole heart to have a revival. On the very first night . . . on calling for prayer, a most astonishing thing happened — the whole congregation, of perhaps 150, burst forth as one man in audible prayer! . . . Remarkable manifestations and dreams occurred to one and another, and in July, 1909, some six months after entering the new church, these culminated in experiences with a great number of people that are very adequately described in numerous particulars in Acts II. Multitudes came to see . . . the attendances grew by leaps and bounds. The Sunday evening attendance exceeded 900.
“The papers printed reports according to their several types — serious, satirical, lurid. One presented an accusation that the pastor gave to the people a beverage called’ the blood of the Lamb’ that caused them to fall into a lethargy, and he was brought before the criminal court. The pastor thus had the privilege of testifying to the faith and power of Jesus Christ before the city physician, the State attorney, the judge, and the secretary. .... The case was dropped.
“The notoriety, was scandalous in the eyes of colleagues and superiors, and at the Annual Conference, in spite of the fact that 220 new members had been added to the Church, and the attendance had been tripled or quadrupled during the year, it was resolved to eliminate the pastor from the work by sending him home. On learning this, some eighteen members of the official board, with some 400 others, resolved to separate from the Methodist Episcopal Church. This is the origin of the Methodist Pentecostal Church in Chile.’
We might add that in 1932, when this article was written the total membership of that Church was over 10,000, and it was constantly growing. Their theology and practice have remained Methodist, as also their church government, but with “Pentecost” super-added.
Warnings against False Teachers.
Those who represent the Pentecostal people as willingly swallowing everything that came along as being of God would do well to read the early issues of Confidence. It is true that in the early rush of enthusiasm, and considerable ignorance concerning spiritual gifts, there was a tendency among the uninstructed to be too confiding. But the leaders, from the very beginning, did all in their power to warn the unwary against deception and imposters. One pest was worthless religious “tramps” who took advantage of the very charity and hospitality kindled in the hearts of believers by the love of God shed abroad through His Spirit, and pushed themselves on assemblies and homes under pretence that “God had led them.” The amazing freedom of the meetings gave opportunity for undesirables to take advantage for personal ends. Definitely false teaching was more easily dealt with. Through it all God preserved the work.
The activities of the Pentecostal Missionary Union were avowedly of a foreign missionary nature, but it did occasionally, in the absence of any home organisation, seek to provide authoritative leadership for the British Pentecostal Movement. On case was when it became necessary to issue a warning against a strangely fanatical practice which arose in certain quarters of supposedly “pleading the blood”, by a mere rapid repetition of the one word: “Blood, blood, blood”. It ought to be explained that this revolting habit apparently arose because in one instance a brother who had some personal objection to openly magnifying the precious blood of Christ was constrained by the Holy Spirit frequently to repeat the word at that sacred hour when he was being filled with the Divine fulness. Zealous, but mistaken, workers who happened to be present jumped to a hasty conclusion that the mere repetition of the word was a talisman for opening heaven’s floodgates. When pressed upon others in an entirely mechanical way there arose a vain supposition that the purely physical effect of the rapid repetition of one word was “speaking with tongues”. To such folly can unbalanced zeal become liable when it departs from the sanctification of the truth.
Critics of the Movement made much of such things, and various other garbled tales were spread around such as reports of foul language in other tongues. When these were tracked to their source, if that were possible, the facts were found to be far different from the rumours.
Sometimes an official refutation was published. More often the early Pentecostal friends were far too busy enjoying the truth to concern themselves with such unlovely aspects of the stir caused by the Movement. The fruit of the years has now largely provided the final answer to those early accusations. The truth has stood the test and stands vindicated. It might have been seen from the pages of the New Testament that the particular difficulties faced by the Pentecostal Movement have been identical with those met by the apostles throughout the primitive Christian churches. They will inevitably occur in every revival, and those who require faultlessness in such Movements before they admit their Divine origin are guilty of an unreasonable attitude devoid of scriptural support.
I. 1875 — 1905
The Springs of the Movement. - The Holiness Movement. - The Welsh Revival. - The Scriptural Basis for the Pentecostal Movement - Pentecostal Phenomena in History.
Asuza Street. - T. B. Barratt . - Expectation in England and Sweden. - The Problem of Opposition to the Movement.
The Pentecostal Movement begins in the British Isles. - The first to “receive” in England. - The “Fire falls” at All Saints’ , Sunderland. - Smith Wigglesworth. - Scandinavia. - Mukti.
The Visitation at Kilsyth. - “Children of the Revival” in Wales. - The Historic Sunderland Conventions. - “Confidence.” - The Movement in Germany. - South China. - Character of the early seekers.
The Pentecostal Missionary Union. - Cecil Polhill. - Sion College. - The South Coast. - Stanley Frodsham. - Preston. - Thomas Myerscough. - The Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile. - Leaders warn against false teachings.
VI. 1910 — 1911
The First Bible Schools. - Early Days in the Midlands. - The Tonypandy Conventions. - Russia, France, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa. - “New Wine in Old Bottles.”
VII. 1912 — 1914
The concluding Sunderland Conventions. - Cross-keys. - Birmingham. - Highbury. - The Movement developing in America. - The British Assemblies. - The famous Vision at Llanelly, July, 1914.
VIII. 1915 — 1919
The War. - The Elim Pentecostal Alliance. - The Congo Evangelistic Mission. - A Luban “Pentecost.” - Conscientious Objectors. - The Apostolic Church. - Kingsway, 1919. – Gradual Dawn of a new outlook.
IX. 1920 — 1924
The Swanwick Conferences. - Stephen Jeffreys. - “Elim” enters England and Wales. - Aimee Semple McPherson. - International Convention in Amsterdam, 1921. - Doctrinal Dissensions. - The Demand for Organisation in the British Assemblies; - Formation of “Assemblies of God.” - Difference between Elim and Assemblies of God. - A New Era.
The P.M.U. merges with Assemblies of God. - Smith Wigglesworth active. - Great Revival Campaigns under Stephen Jeffreys. - God’s further Visitation at Sunderland, 1927. - Other Evangelists. - The phenomenal ministry of George Jeffreys. - The Royal Albert Hall. - A summing-up of the Great Campaigns.
XI. 1930 — 1935
Rapid Expansion of the Movement in Britain. - The Hamstead Bible School. - Further Great Campaigns by the Jeffreys family and others. - The “Full Gospel Testimony.” – Eastern Europe’s Time of Visitation. - The Pentecostal Movement in France. - Leaders Travel Extensively. - In Sunderland again, 1935.
XII. 1936 — 1939
A Period of Consolidation. - The Unity Conferences. - Assemblies of God, U.S.A. - The “Filadelfia” Assembly in Stockholm; its history, work at home and abroad, and magnificent auditorium. - The Great European Pentecostal Conference, 1939.
XIII. 1940 — 1943
After Stockholm. - First months of the War. - The Bible-Pattern Church Fellowship. - Death of T. B. Barratt. - Battle of Britain. - Hampstead carries on. - Time-Bomb at Clapham. - “Front Line” Experiences. - War-Time Evangelism. - Conventions Continue. - Death of Stephen Jeffreys. - The Strength of the Spirit.
XIV. 1944 — 1947
The War draws to its Climax. – “D” Day and After. - Great Preston Conventions. – Youth Work. - Elim Goes on the Air. - A Glance Abroad. - British Leaders Travel Again. - Great Missionary Activity. - Home Evangelism. - Passing of Smith Wigglesworth. - The Pentecostal Movement Wins Increasing Recognition. - World Conference in Zurich.
XV. 1948 — 1953
Advance from Zurich. - National Pentecostal Fellowships. - Building Many New Halls. - On the Air, and In the Air. - The Evangelists and their Great Campaigns. - Missionary Evacuation and Advance. - World Conferences in Paris and London. - Persecution and Recognition. - Growth of Annual Conferences. - Numerical Increase but “The Task Still Before Us”.
XVI. 1954 — 1959
Phenomenal Growth. - “Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostals”. - The New “Bethshan”. - Rebuilt Elim Central Church. - Large Conventions. - “Redemption Hymnal”. - Tommy Hicks in Buenos Aires. - Fourth World Conference in Stockholm. - The Gypsies. - Full Gospel Business Men. - “Revival-time”. - Behind the Iron Curtain. - Peniel. - Fifth World Conference in Toronto.
XVII. 1960 — 1964
A New Era in the Revival. - The Double River of Blessing. - The Jerusalem Conference in 1961. - Death of George Jeffreys and Fred Squire. - British Conferences establish a Record. – Younger Leaders Emerge. - New Headquarters at Springfield. - The World-wide Scope of the Movement. - The “Mighty Sweep” of the New Pentecost. – The Seventh World Conference in Helsinki in 1964.