Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed that Howell Harris was one of the most extraordinary preachers in the history of the church. He deeply admired the evangelistic passion that characterised Harris’ life. Here, we continue to listen to the ‘Doctor’ as he was affectionately called, as he outlines what he considers to be the source of that passion. (Page numbers refer to Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans and their Successors, Banner of Truth Edition)
On Harris’ Baptism in the Spirit
Describing Harris’ experience some three weeks after his conversion, which we have already considered, Lloyd-Jones calls it ‘that crucial experience’.
‘To me, this is the key to the understanding of Howell Harris, as it is the key to the understanding of Revival.’ (p.290)
He goes on, ‘as I have always understood this man’s story, and as I still understand it more and more, you cannot explain him or understand him, or what happened through him, except in the light of this crucial experience of June 18th…What was it? To me, there is only one expression to use. It was the expression used by these men themselves and by their successors. It was a baptism ‘of fire’ or a ‘baptism of power’.’
The Doctor continues, ‘What I would emphasize particularly is that Harris was already converted, had already received forgiveness of sins, and he knew that he had it, and had been dancing in joy. But it was now just over three weeks later that he received this crucial experience which turned him into a flaming Evangelist.’ (p.290)
On Harris’ continuing experience of the Spirit as an example to us
Having recounted that Harris essentially celebrated this experience each year, he also emphasises how Harris was not content to merely rest in that one experience of the Spirit’s power but went on to seek more of Him.
‘This to him was the turning point, the crucial event that made him an Evangelist. It is essential to an understanding of Revival. We can further demonstrate this by showing that he had several repetitions of this experience…he also had similar experiences.’
Lloyd-Jones writes, ‘Another extract from his diary says, ‘In private society till two in the morning like a drunken man. Could say nothing but glory, glory for a long time.’ (p.292)
‘May 1749, ‘The Lord came, overpowering me with love like a mighty torrent that I could not withstand or reason against or doubt.’ (p.292)
‘Even in his ‘dying testimony’ as it is called, he says ‘that we are not to speak of what we have had from the Lord, but what we now have afresh from Him.’ This was of great concern to him. This great vital experience could be repeated…’ (p.293)
Has Lloyd-Jones become over-excited? Has the Doctor embraced some terrible Charismatic or Pentecostal doctrine? Or is he fully aware of the argument he is making and its implications. He explains emphatically:
‘There is always this distinction between receiving forgiveness of sins and receiving the Holy Ghost.’ (p. 292)
So, back in 1973 when he delivered the lecture from which I have quoted, Lloyd-Jones knew exactly what he was saying and why he was saying it.
He wanted us to learn from Harris that we might encounter the power of God as Harris did, in order that we might influence our generation as Harris did.
To read part one of Lloyd-Jones on Howell Harris click here
To read the next post in this series click here
You can purchase ‘The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors’ here
© 2009 Lex Loizides