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A Pentecostal Season: The Methodists in England and America, Part 1

[W]hen both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.

—from John Wesley’s Journal

Again he wrote, “April 26, 1739—While I was preaching at Newgate … Immediately one, and another, and another sunk to the earth: They dropped on every side as thunderstruck.”[5]

Four days later he wrote, “April 30, 1739—We understood that many were offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came: Among whom was a physician, who was much afraid there might be fraud or imposture in the case. Today one whom he had known for many years was the first … who broke out ‘into strong cries and tears.’ He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears … But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.”[6]

And a day later, “May 1, 1739—Many were offended again, and, indeed much more than before. For at Baldwin Street my voice could scarce be heard amidst the groaning of some, and the cries of others, calling aloud to Him that is ‘mighty to save’. … A Quaker, who stood by, was not a little displeased at the dissimulation of these creatures and was biting his lips and knitting his brows, when he dropped down as thunderstruck. The agony he was in was even terrible to behold. We besought God not to lay folly to his charge. And he soon lifted up his head and cried aloud, ‘Now I know thou art a prophet of the Lord!’”[7]

Manifestations of the presence and power of God continued in Wesley’s ministry. He wrote, “July 19, 1757—Toward the conclusion of my sermon, the person with whom I lodged was much offended at one who sunk down and cried aloud for mercy. Herself dropped down next and cried as loud as her, so did several others quickly after.”[8]

Manifestations of the presence and power of God continued in Wesley’s ministry.

On July 14, 1759 at Everton: “The Lord was wonderfully present, more than twenty persons feeling the arrows of conviction. Several fell to the ground; some of whom seemed dead; others, in the agonies of death, the violence of their bodily convulsions exceeding all description. There was also great crying and agonizing in prayer mixed with deep and deadly groans on every side”[9] And at Grandchester on the same day, “God had there broken down seventeen persons, last week, by the singing of hymns only; and that a child, seven years old, sees many visions, and astonishes the neighbours with her innocent, awful manner of declaring them.”[10] And in a follow-up on July 22 he wrote: “Ten more persons were cut to the heart in singing hymns among themselves; and the little child before-mentioned continues to astonish the neighbourhood. A noted Physician came some time ago and closely examined her. The result was, he confessed it was no distemper of mind, but the hand of God.”[11]

In a letter to Wesley from Limerick in 1762 reporting on the work of God there: “Many more were brought to the birth. All were in floods of tears, they cried, they prayed, they roared aloud, all of them lying on the ground.”[12]

All were in floods of tears, they cried, they prayed, they roared aloud, all of them lying on the ground.

—from John Wesley’s Journal

And toward the end of his ministry, at Coleford in 1784: “When I began to pray, the flame broke out – many cried aloud, many sank to the ground, many trembled exceedingly. But all seemed to be quite athirst for God, and penetrated by the presence of his power.”[13] These manifestations were present throughout Wesley’s ministry.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2018

About the Author: Frank H. Billman, B.A. (Houghton College), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Th.M. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), D.Min. (Eastern Baptist [now Palmer] Theological Seminary), is an educator, pastor, author, and international speaker. He is currently leading the doctor of ministry program in supernatural ministry at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While on the staff of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries for 12 years, he led workshops, local and regional renewal events, was supervisor for International Ministries, Methodist School of Supernatural Ministries, and Supernatural Ministry Intensives, and was a general session speaker at the national conferences. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Shepherding Renewal (Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, 2011), and The Supernatural Thread in Methodism: Signs and Wonders Among Methodists Then and Now (Creation House, 2013).

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