Demonstrations of the Spirit’s Power
The central role of the power of the Holy Spirit was a key factor to the growth of the Evangelical Churches of the Puritan era.
This shouldn’t surprise us when we consider that Paul himself said, ‘My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.’ (1 Cor 2:4-5 NIV)
The power of the working of the Holy Spirit has always been God’s means of authenticating His gospel to the hearts of those who hear.
What is truly amazing for anyone who examines the statements of those who witnessed the immense popularity of the ‘new’ puritan movement is the similarity of the scenes with – wait for it – early Salvationism, or early Pentecostalism.
Although we understand that the activity of the Third Person of the Trinity is promised and therefore to be expected, His immediacy – when He breaks in – His breathtaking glory and descending power, amaze us and delight us and surprise us!
As we shall see in future posts about the 18th century, God seems to delight in pouring out His mighty Spirit in the evangelistic arena, thereby causing His word to triumph and large numbers of men and women to come to faith in Christ!
And, indeed, we’ll see that the power of the Spirit becomes a prominent and normative feature in the subsequent global spread of Christianity – and He still is, even today!
Puritanism in Pentecost!
Writing in 1682, Puritan preacher Robert Traill says,
‘Formerly a few lights [preachers] raised up in the nation did shine so as to scatter and dispel the darkness…in a little time;
yet now when there are more and more learned men amongst us, the darkness comes on apace?
Is it not because they were men filled with the Holy Ghost and with power; and many of us are only filled with light and knowledge…?’
(From Traill’s Works Vol 1, p.250, quoted by Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, Banner of truth, p.2)
An outpouring of the Spirit in Irvine, Scotland under the ministry of David Dickson was described by locals as ‘the Stewarton Sickness’ as people were filled with the Spirit of God.
Robert Fleming, an eye witness, writes,
‘It was most remarkable, where it can be said (which diverse ministers and Christians yet alive can [testify to]) that for a considerable time, few Sabbaths did pass without some evidently converted, and some convincing proofs of the power of God accompanying His word;
yea, that many were so choked and taken by heart…the Spirit in such a measure convincing them of sin, in hearing of the Word they have been made to fall over, and thus carried out of the church, who after proved most solid and lively Christians…
Truly, this great spring–tide…was not of a short time, but for some years…[and] did advance from one place to another, which put a marvellous lustre [ie, brightness, glory] on these parts of the country, the savour whereof brought many from other parts of the land to see the truth of the same.’ (ibid p.28)
This kind of statement is absolutely typical of true revival. But I must pause for fear of writing too much.
There’s more. Read the next post, Mighty Outpourings of the Spirit in Puritan Ireland
You can purchase Iain Murray’s ‘The Puritan Hope’ here
© 2009 Lex Loizides