The Early Years of the Tongues Movement (Part Two)
(An Historical Survey and its Lessons. Written circa 1950 )
By G. Lang
This work, by G.H.Lang (NOT G.D. Lang) is very useful and interesting. Not only does it give priceless first-hand information about the Azuza Street Revival and the early "tongues movement" but it exposes the manifestations and doctrinal errors that were appearing even then. Lang is not opposed to Baptism in the Spirit nor to tongues, and nor am I. Lang makes it plain at the outset that he is not antagonistic to the Movement. However, he does oppose what was of the Devil in this revival. This article demonstrates that "there is nothing new under the sun" for almost all the Toronto/Pensacola manifestations are present here!
As a personal note, I would add that I cannot agree with all of Lang's conclusions. Nevertheless, his remarks are telling. I urge you to read this whole article carefully, noting where in the earlier movement there are doctrinal and practical similarities to the present-day "revival". I think you will be both surprised and shocked at your findings.
CHAPTER IV - THE CASE OF T. B. BARRATT
In Mr Donald Gee's painstaking history The Pentecostal Movement it is said on page 19, paragraph (d), that
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...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.
Upon this I can but remark that the clear impression made at the time on me, as a sympathetic observer, and endorsed by this present inquiry, is that the acknowledged fanaticism and regrettable excesses were the dominant and characteristic features of those days.
Mr. Gee sets forth the experience of T. B. Barratt, of Christiania, Norway, as "typical of the experience of multitudes" (15), and as "a true and faithful account of similar ernotions and manifestations that, in varying measure, have been enjoyed by many, many thousands all over thc world"; and he adds that "it is these facts of quite definite and vivid experience that constitute the solid core of the unique testimony of the Pentecostal Movement" (16).
This is helpful, and I am sure it is true to fact. it enables us, on the authority of the, I think, most gifted teacher in the Movement, and its laborious historian, to learn at once what is "unique" and characteristic of the whole Movement. From the point of view of the Movement, Mr. Barratt's case at least was not one of the experiences "that no reputable Christian worker would seek to defend"; it was not an instance of "early fanaticism," but was a typical genuine example of the Movement. It occured in its first year (1906) and was cited with approval as late as 1940, when Mr. Gee's history ends.
Mr. Barratt, while in New York, "received a wonderful baptism of the Holy Spirit on October 7th, 1906." Of this he gave his own "vivid account as follows:
In a letter in "Confidence" (Nov. 1912, p.260) Mr. Barratt said "Cleansing on the 30th September, mighty baptism eight days after, on 15th November the full Pentecost with tongues. Glory!" The events now described were therefore on Nov. 15th, 1906.
I was filled 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 I know from the strength of my voice that 10,000 might easily have heard all I said . . . 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.
That this was accepted by the Movement as of God is shown by the facts that Mr. A. A. Boddy, of Sunderland, cited it in a tract entitled How the Fire Fell, and that this was quoted freely in Cloud of Witnesses to Pentecost in India, the organ of the Movement in that land. This account informs us that only fifteen persons were present, and adds, in Mr. Barratt's words, these striking particulars:
The power came so suddenly and powerfully that I lay on the floor speaking in tongues incessantly for some time. In fact, I kept on, mostly spcaking in tongues, singing and praying with very little intermission until 4 o'clock in the morning. [the power had fallen at 12.30 midnight.] It seemed as if an iron hand laid over my jaws. Both jaws and tongue were worked by this unseen power.
It is quite just that this be set forth as a typical experience of multitudes of other persons. Its essential features were common and characteristic, of which there is abundant testimony in "Confidence." Let us consider some of these features. The visitation, as described by its own subject. was marked by:
1. Terrific and wholly unedifying noise. This is the first feature that Mr. Barratt mentions. It has been one of the most marked and frequent facts in these experiences, individual and collective. Is it produced by the Spirit of God, or how is it caused? A quite small company of persons are together in a room. Suddenly a man starts to shout at the top of his voice. The stentorian tones could have been heard by ten thousand people. To what purpose was this in so small a group? Who was built up in soul by this excessive noise? But what is not unto spiritual uphuilding is not allowable in a Christian gathering "Let all things be done unto edifying" (1 Cor. 14 : 26). In a meeting in Europe (not in this circle) one prayed in this alarming manner. I asked him if his heavenly Father were deaf that he roared thus in prayer.
If Paul had given way like this he could not have written the chapter just quoted and concluded his exhortation with the command "Let all things be done decently and in order"(ver. 40)
Our Lord often preached to thousands, but it were irreverent to suppose that He roared at the top of His voice. On the contrary, He fulfilled the prophecy. "He will not cry, nor lift up His voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street." In that clear atmosphere there is no need to shout, and we may be sure He did not do so.
2. Falling to the ground and talking there is another common feature of these experiences. But the New Testament does not show it as a feature of apostolic gatherings, but rather as exceptional. (I Cor. 14 : 24, 25).
3. Mr. Barratt said that he spoke in several foreign languages. No proof is offered that the sounds were languages. It was assumed to be so, as shown by his words, "to judge from the various sounds and forms of speech used." No one present seems to have understood these "languages" or to have testified on the point. This also is a most common feature of the Movement. It is not at all denied that at times languages have been spoken under inspiration; but in the vast majority of meetings and cases there seems to be no proof.
4. Yet if Mr. Barratt did speak actual languages, there was no interpretation, therefore no one was edified, and the exhibition was plainly contrary to the unequivocal prohibition "if there be no interpreter let him keep silence in the church" (1 Cor. 14 :28). This too was constantly repeated in the meetings of the Movement.
5. A further feature specified by Mr. Barratt was extreme velocity of speech: "the words would rush forth like a cataract." Naturally they were not interpreted: one cannot well interpret a cataract. This is a most dangerous and well-marked feature of demon inspiration. I have myself heard it (apart from this Movement) when there was no doubt that its origin was evil. It also has been frequent in gatherings of the Movement.
6. This involves a further significant matter. The whole scene does indeed testify that Mr. Barratt was seized and moved by some extraneous power. The suddenness of the first outburst, the unreasonable deafening noise, the irresistible control of the jaws, the furious rapidity of speech, all testify that this good man was carried beyond himself. This again has been very frequent. We shall notice it further. It is contrary to apostolic direction. What a spectacle is here presented as being of God. A minister of the gospel lying on the floor hour after hour, talking incessantly, sometimes springing to his feet to shout abnormally. In ordinary life, should a usually normal person thus behave he would be thought demented.
7. The apostolic direction quoted was that one speaking by the Holy Spirit in a tongue, or prophesying, was to keep silence if there were no interpreter or should a revelation be made to another sitting by (1 Cor. 14 : 28-30). This shows that the "gifted" person retained full control of the organs of speech and could speak or be silent at will. The Spirit of God does not suppress or supersede the natural faculties, though He employs and empowers them. In Mr. Barratt's case this was entirely reversed. An iron hand seemed to seize his jaws and he could not but speak nor could he refrain from speaking. Self-control was suspended.
The first manifestations in England oocurred in September, 1907, at the church of All Saints, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, of which Mr. A. A. Boddy was vicar. He had been to Los Angeles, to Mukti, India, and had also seen the manifestations at Mr. Barratt's, Christiania, and was seeking the like visitation at Sunderland. One of the first to receive there this so longed-for power described to me his experience. It corresponded closely to that of Mr. Barratt in New York. He specified these particulars of his own case and that of others. His jaws were suddenly gripped. He was compelled to speak and could neither resist nor restrain the utterance. For hours at a time the sounds would rush forth like a torrent. His voice became stentorian, though by nature he is quiet and gentle; and this was a marked feature even in but a small room with few present. It was taken for granted that he spoke in a language, though there was no internretation, and no one understood, so that no one was edified. Persons frequently fell to the floor.
This dear fnend was moved to bring many into the like experience. Power passed from him to others. A Christian woman told me that, kneeling in a waiting meeting, someone passed by and put a hand upon her shoulder; immediately her whole body thrilled with powerful emotions. It was the brother in question who had touched her. Speaking in tongues followed, and she too told of the seizure of the jaws and the forced and uncontrollable utterance that rushed forth.
This abundantly confirms that T. B. Barratt's experience was typical. It shows that the Movement in general needed to be tested as regards the source of the power that operated. That cannot be of God which is contrary to His instructions.
Speaking with tongues, ravishing singing, exalted emotions are no final test of what spirit is acting, for demons confer these upon their votaries. Nor is it sufficient that, when out of these special hours, a person may be a zealous Christian. It is natural that when the ecstasy ceases a sincere lover of Christ should resume his usual testimony to Him. This last does not guarantee that the special visitations are from Him or endorsed by Him.
With all soberness it may be said that the features specified by the subject of these experiences are unsupported by the New Testament, and that the features demanded by Scripture, such as decency, order, sobriety, self-control, with edification of others present, were absent.
The following excellent remarks are from a book enthusiastically supporting the Movement, Carl Brumback's What Meaneth This? It is a recent work, dated 1946. On p.317 there is a section headed "Let all things be done decently and in order," and it is said
The Holy Spirit never renders anyone incapable of self-control. "The spirits of the prophets arc subject to the prophets" (1 Car. 14 : 32). He does not cause a believer to act in any way contrary to the Word which He has inspired. This means that all those who possess the gifts of the Spirit should acquaint themselves thoroughly with the Scriptural regulations for their manifestation, and seek to conform every manifestation of the gifts to them. There is no real bondage in obedience to these regulations, and no real liberty in casting them aside.
If these sound princinles had ruled as early as 1906, such experiences as those of T. B. Barratt would not have occurred, or occurring would have been recognized as not being of God.
Mr. Gee tells us that "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." An interesting sidelight on this is given by one who had no aversion to stirring meetings, William Booth of the Salvation Army. Writing from Christiania only a month later (January 1907) he said
Soldiers' and ex-Soldiers' Meeting Hall packed . . talked with some power . . . Great expectations for a proper smash but alas! an old man broke out with a wild incoherent prayer and others in shouts of Hallelujah, and strange sounds which are supposed to be a visitation of the Holy Spirit...These things took attention away from what I was saying, and spoiled the result. Nevertheless, we had 74 out, many backsliders among them. It appears that two or three Corps are divided on this question of "tongues", and it will be a good thing if abiding evil does not ensue. (William Booth, Founder o/ the Salvation Army, ii. 374.)
CHAPTER V: WILLIAM BOOTH-CLIBBORN
Arthur Clibborn married the eldest daughter of William Booth of the Salvation Army, and took the name Booth-Clibborn. They had ten children, of whom William was the fifth. He believed that his grandfather's mantle fell on him. His father was the means of his conversion, which blessed circumstance ought to be far more frequent than it is. He was then twelve years of age, and for a time was a vigorous witness for his Saviour. Presently this zeal cooled, as is often the case with youthful converts. William has told his story in The Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Edition 1929; ed. 3, 1944). Stripped of its rhetoric and rhapsody the salient features are as follows.
At the close of November 1908, and therefore early in the Movement, the father took his son one Saturday evening from Westcliff-on-Sea, where they lived, to London. In the train he dealt solemnly with the lad about his "backsliding," the waning of his testimony as a Christian. The words took effect, and the boy reached the hall to which they were going much occupied with his own state. During a hymn a lady in front of him sat down weeping. A moment later she was speaking in a strange language. As his father knew eight languages and himself five, he thought they might understand her, but it was not so. Shortly she sank to her knees seemingly overwhelmed with grief, groaning and praying in that strange language. It occurred to William that this woman might possibly be praying for him, that God had placcd his condition upon her heart, and she was bearing his burden in the Spirit (22.23). This was of course a purely subjective idea of his own, for she did not know him, nor did they know what she was saying.
Then a man behind, who had been rejoicing and laughing in the Spirit, suddenly began to talk loudly in an unknown tongue. Interpretation followed, every word of which searched this boy's heart and left him filled with dismay and shame. He says of the address that every word pierced his heart, and conviction tormented him (26). He arose and pushed his way to the aisle. Of his own accord he found a chair near the platform, knelt there oblivious of his surroundings, and wept and wept and still wept. He must have wept by that chair from ten o'clock p.m. to one in the morning. His father had his hand on his shoulder and was praying with him. Finally the father definitely asked God to give the lad the comfort of Divine forgiveness, and quoted I John 1: 9:
"If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (27, 30). The consciousness of pardon was granted.
Deep conviction is good, but was it necessary that a mere boy should be tormented so long? Might not the blessed Spirit have gladly spoken peace sooner had those words of peace been spoken earlier? The account adds that it must have been past one o'clock in the morning before he rose from his knees, and he says, "In the hollow of that chair I can still see the big pool of my tears" (30).
Here evidently was one of those keenly emotional natures peculiarly susceptible to the powerful excitements incident to such a Movement. This is seen in an earlier picture of that night of distress. His father sat down beside him and endeavoured to appease his cries for forgiveness. He had completely forgotten his whereabouts, complained aloud of his condition and lamented his backslidings. He would not be comforted: "I put my arms around him and wept in his bosom. I said, 'Let me weep'" (28)
After this midnight of nervous tension he could hardly speak. Of the hotel breakfast he scarcely partook, yet was feasting, as he says. They went early to a private house near London. It was Sunday. There was a morning service, the Lord's Supper, a long talk with another lad who had received his "baptism," and an evening service followed: a pretty full day after a tiring night. The moment prayer was called he dropped to his knees and forgot himself and his whereabouts (36). Again a lady was prostrated upon her face before God, weeping and groaning, and again he could feel that her struggling intercession was for him. Presently he clapped his hands; from his inner being there poured forth a growing, rushing torrent of prayer-praise like a swollen mountain stream; there were fresh tears of bitter-sweet regret, followed by a flood of joy and he began to laugh and laugh and laugh until he cried for very joy (40, 41). He tells us that the noise he had been making predominated in the meeting (43).
The leader of the gathering was an accredited missionary of the Movement and was on his way to Egypt to spread the fire. He laid his hands on the boy's head and throat and prayed, and shortly he was singing in a beautiful language entirely foreign to him. His shouts and praises mingled with the most intoxicating laughter, and his tongue raced like "the pen of a ready writer" (Psa. 45 :1). Heavenly angelic choirs gave the roar of a glorious diapason. He listened enthralled by those rhapsodies, whilst new rivers of burning tears flooded down his cheeks. Again and again he burst in renewed vigour to take up the angelic theme. His body tossed back and forth, sympathetically swinging to the peals of melodious thunder that coursed in rending, tearing crashes through him. He sung till it seemed his physical heart would stop. His uplifted arms kept beating time to the majestic tempo of that celestial song (47, 48).
Be it remembered that this is the ecstatic, exciting experience of a schoolboy of fifteen years, and this is his own description of it. In addition to the severe emotional tension of the preceding night and day, this occasion had lasted four and a half hours. Let the reader consider whether there is in the New Testament anything remotely resembling this as accompanying the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The Movement has ever used Pentecost, Samaria and Ephesus (Acts 2; 8 10; 19) as the Scripture basis for their "baptism;" but those scriptures show an immediate bestowal of tongues with no previous prolonged and strenuous exercises of the above character, and no such extravagancies as shouting, weeping, singing, and uncontrollable, intoxicating laughter. It seems clear from his book that, neither at the time nor later, did the writer give thought to the fact of there being no New Testament parallel.
It is now well after midnight, nearly two in the morning, and someone told William that before retiring refreshments would be served in the next room. The dear friends solicitously helped him to his feet, still speaking in tongues. He says that he was drenched, wet from head to foot with perspiration and endless weeping, dishevelled, and reeling like one intoxicated, and thus he staggered to his place at table. Finally every one rose to retire, but he was so drunk with the Spirit that when he tried to ascend the stairs he could not succeed until he was assisted up. And he just lay in bed laughing irrepressibly.
It is this poor bedraggled, dishevelled, exhausted boy who presents himself as a brilliant example of being baptized in the third Person of the ever-blessed Trinity! And his reeling, staggering, laughing, crying, singing, and shouting are declared to be results of the presence of Him who develops in us the high virtue of self-control (Gal. 5 : 22). And so profound and indelible was the impression that thirty-six years later it still dominated him and he issued the third edition of his book commending his early experience.
The next morning father and son went into the City (London). Picture the scene as the son gives it. The boy could not refrain from singing in the unknown tongue. His father begged him to tone down; but it was impossible: it seemed positively wrong to quench the Spirit! So his father told him to shut his eyes. like a blind man, and he would lead him and tell him when the pavement dropped or rose, so that he should not stumble. So he shut himself in with God (!). singing and talking in the new tongue to his heart's content. He tells us that many stood staring, wondering what on earth was affecting him, or possibly, he thinks, sad to see another victim of the liquor evil. But when two "bobbies" began to move towards them the father acted promptly. He hailed a taxi, dumped the boy in, and to the driver's inquiry, "Where?" he shouted : "Anywhere! never mind! go on! " The driver drove furiously, and they praised the Lord all the way to the next meeting, to which presently the father directed the driver.
Would the inspired prophet add the comment, "This also cometh forth from Jehovah of hosts? " (1sa. 28: 29).
Presently they went home, and the youth set himself to lead into the same experience every member of the household, brothers, sisters, governess, and others. In this he shortly succeeded. Meetings were held in the house nightly, with the heavenly singing, deliriums of tears, tongues, and prophesyings, which declared the approaching end of the age and described phases of the coming of our Lord in glory. Presently Mrs Booth Clibborn came home was captured by the meetings kneeled in front of her own boy begged him to pray for her also lifted his hand on to her head and said "Lord give me this blessing too." Whether she was "baptized" the narrative does not say but it seems singular that Mr Booth Clibborn did not share the baptism at that time nor for at least three years after, for it is stated in "Confidence" for June, 1911 that he declared that he would not be satisfied till he had done so.
The meetings in the house would go on till the small hours of the morning, and the noise caused such consternation among the neighbours that a petition, signed by many, asked that the clamour should cease or be controlled. Even this did not raise in their minds the inquiry whether disturbing the neighbours by night could be pleasing to God, but quiltsand blankets were fastened over the windows and doors and the "heavenly music" went on unabated.
The literature of the Movement mentions that the first person in England to receive the "baptism" was a Mrs. Price. This lady visited the family and confirmed that the work was of the Holy Spirit, and later she wrote a cornmendatory foreword to the hook in question. But this only raises doubts as to her own spiritual discernment and wisdom
Later father and son toured in Europe and saw such scenes repeated on a large scale. In view of the adverse judgment one has been obliged to form as to William Booth-Clibborn's own experience, as given by himself, one cannot but extend the same estimate to the similar experience into which he led others. Moreover, inasmuch as this is a fair sample of much that marked those early years, the same doubts must arise as to the Movement as a whole. Arthur Booth-Clibborn was an acknowledged figure in the Movement: "Confidence" contained numerous articles by him and Bartleman quoted him. At the Sunderland conferences he sometimes interpreted speakers from the Continent. It seems singular that among people who claimed to be in succession from Pentecost there should be need of uninspired interpretation, or that their missionaries should need to learn languages, as was the case.
By the vivid narrative here employed the reader has been enabled to attend a public meeting of the Movement and a midnight house party, as described by a principal figure in both. He has seen a mere youth weep and lament by the hour, until the chair was a pool of tears. He has watched him lying on the drawing room floor sweating, weeping, singing, shouting, laughing till the noise dominated the gathering. He has seen a lad of fifteen so enfeebled as to be unable to struggle to his feet or to walk to the table, or to get up the stairs without aid; and so overwrought as to be unable to sleep all night: and so out of control that he could not restrain himself in the public street. All this is part of the picture of the early days of the Movement.
It may be that my reader will grieve with me that a company of respectable and Christian men and women could be so deluded as to regard such doings as wrought by the Spirit who gives rest and self-restraint and who directs that gatherings of saints should be marked by decency and order. My reader may wonder that such a mature public worker as Arthur Booth-Clibborn should find satisfaction in his own son passing through such a degrading experience, reducing him to helplessness of body and nerves. Yet, when the matter of imminent school examinations came up the next morning after the night described, he declared that the lad had been too hopelessly blessed to be any good as a student, and that this was not a time for school, for "once we have tasted of this wine we are as incurable as drunkards! We always want more" (53, 54).-
So, then, this "baptism " disinclines from concentrated study. Is this part of the explanation of the feature, mentioned elsewhere, that the Movement has produced so very few competent teachers? For naturally there would be disinclination to such strenuous sublects as Biblical languages, customs, history, and doctrine. One who is too intoxicated to study will avoid philology and archaeology.
Considering bow deeply infatuated the father was, it was remarkable that he had to seek long without receiving the "baptism." Of a well-known leader in America it is told that he, too, had to wait and seek for two years. Is the Head of the church sometimes unwilling to give the Spirit to them that ask Him? Neither Pentecost, Caesarea, nor Ephesus were marked by "tarrying" meetings, where strenuous and sustained effort was required. It is true that for ten days the 120 continued in steadfast prayer: but this could not have involved agonizing strain of spirit to secure the anointing, for the Lord had promised definitely that they should receive the Spirit before many days, so that they would have waited in assured, if eager, expectation. At Caesarea and Ephesus there was no waiting at all. Prolonged tension of mind is not needful to the securing of the promise of the Father, but is a frequent preparation for the reception of a false spirit. is in avowed demonism.
CHAPTER VI: INDIA AND LONDON
The Movement commenced in Los Angeles in 1906. By the next year it was spreading rapidly in India. Bartleman wrote of Wales as the cradle of the Movement, India as the Nazareth where it was brought up, and Azuza Street as the place of its full display. Early in 1907 Mr. and Mrs. A. G. Garr, of Los Angeles, reached Calcutta. Their meetings were marked by characteristic features already considered. That well-known servant of Christ, Lord Radstock, was at that time in Calcutta and strongly disapproved of the meetings. Sundry missionary brethren and sisters became entangled, yet some for only a short time.
In India its principal advocate was Max Wood Moorhead, editor of the periodical mentioned, Cloud of Witnesses to Pentecost in India. The third number was dated October 12th, 1907.
The Movement promptly ventured on an audacious prophecy. There lies before me a copy of the handbill that first announced this. It reads:
A MESSAGE FROM GOD
given September 23rd, 1907
(The) Spirit saith - JUDGMENT IS COMING
(In) ten months
COLOMBO EARTHQUAKE FIRST
CEYLON SUNK (IN) SEA
This reached Mr. Moorhead in Ceylon, who repeated the whole handbill, of which the above was the beginning, in the issue of his magazine mentioned. He stated that the message was given through a Swedish missionary, and that her fellow ladyworkers had received confirmation of it. He gave a lengthy account of how by tongues and interpretations the prophecy was confinued to him on four occasions. The destruction was fixed for October 16 and 17. Many fled froni the City. Mr. Garr and his party departed for Hong Kong.
It is obvious that from the first a lying spirit was deluding members of the Movement in India, including its principal leader. It is instructive to learn how leaders endeavoured to parry the blow at the prestige of the Movement. Six months later T B Btrratt wds in India On the 16th May, 1908 he wrote from Coonoor Nilgirt Hills to A A Boddy as follows, which Mr Boddy published in a Supplement to "Confidence" dated June 1908, headed "Important Letters from Pastor Barratt and Others". Mr Barratt said:
Of course mistakes have been made here in India as elsewhere. The Apostles even made mistakes after Pentecost But the Lord is taking us on and teaching us in His wonderful school daily. The prophecy concerning Colombo was a mistake. Mr Moorhouse (head) also very emphatically acknowledged it. But our adversaries are constantly trying to find fault and make a tremendous noise at every mistake thus made, as if the whole Revival were to blame for it. They ought to mind their own P s and Q's. On the other hand it ought to teach our friends NOT TO LISTEN OR FOLLOW EVERY VOICE THEY HEAR.
The Devil's voice was also heard among the "sons of God" (Job 1 6-9) and you find that he was there for no good purpose. He never is.
That's where the gift of discernment is to be applied, and 1John 4 1-4. Where voices or a VOICE is heard or some intense impression received to do this or that, let us put the PASSWORD to the power influencing us before allowing it to enter. Every evil spirit or demon is AFRAID OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS. IT ACTS LIKE POISON TO THEM. Spiritualists hate it,which is a very good proof. And no evil power will recognise Christ as having come in the flesh or acknowledge Him as King and Lord (1Cor 12:3)
Then we are PERFECTLY SAFE having been sprinkled with the Blood and are kept by HIS POWER.
But his acknowledgment was by no means so immediate or spontaneous as could have been expected. One who was at that time intimate with him informs me that it was only after long and severe pressure by himself that Moorhead at last acknowledged his false position.
Ought Mr. Barratt to have been indignant that lookers-on took notice of this prophecy? The Movement had suddenly thrust itself forward as blessed with a revival of supernatural gifts of tongues, interpretations, and prophecies. Was it of no significance for the public that so early a palpably false prophecy was spread over the land? Very plainly it was everybody's business not to be misled.
And was the matter a mere "mistake" ? and if so, whose mistake was it? Mr. Moorhead affirmed categorically that the prophecy was given in tongues to a Christian woman, was confirmed by at least two others, and was re-affirmed super-naturally to himself on four occasions. It were extraordinary that so many persons, on so many occasions, made exactly the same "mistake." It were wonderful, if it were only a mistake, that the Lord did not enlighten them, or the very many that read the prophecy, during the weeks that intervened before the date predicted, but left them all to be undeceived by the failure. There is no explanation but that a spirit deceived them and kept them deceived. This Mr. Barratt virtually admitted by adding his strong warning against being misled by evil spirits.
In the spring and summer of that year, 1908, that Mr. Barratt was there the centre of the Movement was at Coonoor, the lovely district on the Nilgiri Hills where English officials and others resided, or gathered for the hot season. Christian workers from all parts of India resorted thither, and it was a spiritually strategic centre. From April of the next year again, 1909, I was there for many months. The failure of the prophecy had called a halt in the Movement, but from several godly persons who had been at the meetings the previous year I received separate and accordant descriptions. Each told of the terrific noise, by sounds like those of birds and beasts, tame and wild, human and non-human, roared forth by many at once. And they spoke of nien and women grovelling on the ground, and of ladies going around arranging the skirts of women rolling and kicking on the floor, or covering them with shawls. These facts have been lalely confirmed to me in writing by one who was present.
Such indecent doings were not limited to India. in November 1913 a report reached me of young women similarly rolling on the floor at meetings in Bedford connected with Mr Cecil PoIhill. Leaders of the Movement have expressed surprise at the opposition it encountered in those early days, but such regrettable conduct could not but provoke hostility from right-minded people not blinded and warped by the power provoking these improprieties.
There were resident at Coonoor a godly man and his wife of social standing and refinement. They were universally esteemed as Christians. I had happy spiritual fellowship with them, which was not hindered by the fact that they were leaders in this Movement. At his "baptism" he spoke in tongues "only a few syllables and this was quite sufficient to bring forth Hallelujahs and shoutings, etc., at about midnight. which we heard in 'Ochtertyre'," a mile or more away. Thus writes to me an actor in the events of that early time. I told them what had been told me of the doings at the meetings the year before of which there could be no doubt seeing that so many had g'iven separately the identical details. Their reply startled me. It was that they had been, at the meetings but had never seen such doings. Their sincerity could not be doubted, but how could their ignorance be explained?
We will pursue this interesting inquiry in England. A notable early convert to the Movement was Mr. Cecil Poihill mentioned. He owned Howbury Hall, Bedford, and was wealthy. He was deservedly in high repute in evangelical circles. He was one of the "Cambridge Seven" Universitv men whose united going forth to China as evangelists was the sensation of its time and he had a long record of devoted labour in that land. He received his "baptism" at Los Angeles and forthwith devoted time and wealth to forwarding the Movement in England. To this end in 1908 he took No 9 Gloucester Place in the west end of London, which house was for a time the London centre. Mrs. Boddy and other chief leaders helped in these meetings. Mr. Boddy wrote in "Confidence" (Nov. l908. p.10: Dec. 1908. p.7) that "visitors to the meetings . . . write and speak very thankfully of these gatherings . they have been a help to many."
But there lies before me a very different account by a memher of the household. Mrs. Poihill had died and her sister was keeping house for Mr. PoIhill and caring for his two children of nine and five years. This was Miss Annie W. Marston, a lady well known and esteemed among evangelical people. She wrote an account of matters at 9 Gloucester Place, addressed to Miss E. Ada Camp, Principal of Carfax Missionary College, Bristol, who showed the letter to me. It read:
We have shut up Howbury and have all, that is Mr. PoIhill and I, the governess, the two little girls of five and nine, and half the servants - come here into the filthiest, dingiest hole I ever stepped into, to stay till just before Christmas, simply and only that Mr. P. may push this tongues movement in London, where all its adherents flock round him and flatter him, for no other reason I am convinced, and on very good grounds, than because they want his money.
Howbury Hall was a stately country mansion, in lovely surroundings. How came it that its owner took his family to stay in a house that could be described as a filthy, dingy hole? He had abundant means and surely could have secured another type of house. The step suggests some abnormal influence at work upon a gentleman of his type and standing.
The letter continued
If you could live in this house for a month and see the effect of going into this thing, you would never wonder again whether it is of God or not. Mr. C. 6. Moore [a notable evangelical clergyman of that time] wasn't one bit too strong when he said to me some months ago, "It comes straight from the pit."
This house is swarming with them, between fifty and sixty in a day sometimes rolling and kicking, bellowing, rattling. cackling, singing, shouting, in tongues and without tongues, with words and without words; shaking the whole house and making such noises that you cannot get away from the sound of them. All the servants and the governess are in a state of terror
I told Mr. P. that I really believed that it would kill the elder of the two little girls . . . but he only laughed . . . The governess says she would not stay in the house half an hour if I left, and I believe the servants would go too, and what would happen to these poor mites ? Their father seldom sees them more than a quarter of an hour a day, sometimes not that. They had Mr. Boddy at Howbury for a week. lie is dreadful.
Mr. A. A. Boddy was the son of a clergyman, himself for some years a solicitor, and later a clergyman. What influence was at work upon this cultivated Christian gentleman that he should leave this painful impression upon his hostess, a cultured Christian lady? Personally, and apart from these special doings, he was quite otherwise, an attractive, much-liked gentleman. I have talked with some who knew him well, one of whom was one of his spiritual children. And what influence was at work upon another gentleman such as Mr. Polhill that he should be inattentive to his little children?
The letter continued:
Mr. P. spends thousands of pounds on it, and they would like to get thousands more. A gendeman who was up in such matters said to me yesterday, "This well end, you will see, either in immorality or insanity." It has ended in both ways aleady in many, many cases.
Of this last assertion I received written confirmation from a member of the China Inland Mission in Shansi, north China, dated in 1913, from personal knowledge of the Movement there. The Pentecostal Missionary Union was formed in January 1909, the chief promoters being Messrs. Boddy and PoIhill. The first worker sent out was one of a family known to me as early as December 1911; her death was announced in "Confidence." It stated only that "she has not been strong of late," and added, "Thou shalt know hereafter." It was not made known that this friend died in deep nervous prostration though in only early womanhood. One of the family circle described it to me as "tragic." An older sister, also a missionary though not of this Mission, plunged heart and soul into these exhausting experiences and died in similar mental collapse. Thus were two truly devoted women worn out prematurely. There is no need to wait till "hereafter" to understand these sad events. An excess of current burns the wire.
Miss Marston's sombre account of those meetings was confirmed to me by her sister Miss Selina Marston. She endorsed it in detail. She had attended the meetings and spoke of the abnormal noises, the confusion. the terror of the servants, and added that passers by would stop to listen, and that even the police loitered about as if thinking they would be needed within. It was pandemonium
Here, then, is the same contradiction as at Coonoor; meetings marked by dire confusion and disorder, but godly persons not discerning this. It is evident that two Christian sisters would not invent such a story concerning the house of their relative; the facts are not to be disputed. It must be taken as equally certain that Mrs. Boddy and others would not deliberately fabricate a totally false account of the gatherings. It seems clear that while in the meetings they lived in a subjective world of their own, which concealed from them the unpleasant doings around. But has the human mind a native power that it can live so isolated and concentrated, cut off from pressing realities around, and in an unreal world?
There is another possible explanation. In 1875 Colonel H. F. Olcott collaborated with Mme. H. P. Blavataky in New York to found the Theosophical Society. The object was to extinguish the light of Christianity by diffusing in the West the darkness of Eastern Theosophy. The history of this Movement is given in Olcott's Old Diary Leaves, the True History of the Theosophical Society
Speaking of Mme.Blavatsky's doings as a powerful medium Olcott narrates (pp. 46, 47) that he saw her go into a room and watched and waited for her to come out, which she did not do. After some time he entered the room and looked round for her, but she was not there. Yet there was only one door in the apartment. He adds:
After a while she calmly came out of her room into the passage and returned to the sitting room with me . . . I was the subject of a neat experiment in mental suggestion . . H.P.B. had simply inhibited my organs of sight from perceiving her presence, perhaps within two paces of me in the room . . . the superior neatness of Oriental over Western hypnotic suggestion is that in such cases as this, the inhibitory effect upon the subject's perceptive organs results from mental, not spoken, command or suggestion. The subject is not put on his guard to resist the illusion, and it is done before he has the least suspicion of any experiment that is being made at his expense.
Olcott declares that Mme. Blavatsky did the same on other occasions. This avowed enemy of Christ was confessedly the conscious agent of various powerful spirits who acted through her.
Scripture gives definite instances of the exercise by heavenly beings of this power of inhibiting the faculties of men. A gang of Sodomites were determined to break into Lot's house, but the two angels who had come to him "smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves to find the door" (Gen. 19 :11). Had this been absolute physical blindness they would scarcely have persevered in their attempt; but with the inner vision blurred they could not find a door though all around it.
Similarly in II Kings 6 :17-20. A detachment of Syrian soldiers had been sent to Dothan to seize Elisha the prophet. His servant was greatly alarmed, but in answer to Elisha's request, "God opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." Gehazi's physical sight was not affected, for he saw the Syrians; but an inner sight was granted to him to see things ordinarily invisible.
Conversely, in answer to the prayer of the prophet, the Syrians were smitten with blindness (ver. 18 twice; the same word as in Gen. 19 :11, its only occurrences). Yet this was not physical blindness, for they followed the prophet some fifteen miles from Dothan to Samaria; yet, without knowing it, they passed through the gates of a walled city and saw not their perilous situation until, in answer to a further prayer of Elisha their "eyes were opened, and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria" that is, the inhibition was removed and natural perception was restored. I thought of this incident when passing through the massive bastions that now flank the entrance to the ruins of that ancient capital.
A vivid recent example of this suspension of faculties in modern heathendom is given by George Patterson in God's Fool (Faber, London. 1956, p.137).
On entering the low door of the room the sight that met our eyes was like some hellish exaggeration of the Macbeth witches' scene. Around the walls of the room were squatting ten old women and one old man chanting sorne incantation in high pitched monotone, and then dropping to a droning repetition of Om Mani Padme Hum, their magic prayer-formula. Although their eyes were open they gazed unseeingly in front of them and paid no attention to us as we entered hesitantly and sat down on the floor beside them. They had put themselves into a trance by their incantations, and although their bodies moved rhythmically sideways, like pendulums, to the rhythm of their chant, they were not conscious of anything happening in that room at all.
It would appear that in Coonoor and in London powerful spirits of darkness inhibited the perceptive faculty, and good people did not see or hear the realities under their eyes, but were caused to see unrealities as real. Their bona fides need not be questioned; but their own unconsciousness of the dire confusion in which they participated, with their contrary supposition that the gatherings were heavenly in character, had, it is to be feared, the same dread origin.
In the early records there are glowing, and I am sure sincere, accounts of the start of the Movement in a certain seaside resort in England. In the course of years I made inquiries of Christian residents who remembered those days. The report was, as usual; of the common distracting noises at the meetings. The leading evangelist of the Movement went around with his tent and established some centres. A resident in one area passing at night the house where the group met, heard the usual alarming sounds and peered through a window. The noises proceeded from a number of men whose condition was such that decency forbids description. One known to me had gone to live in that district specially to share in the meetings. It is small wonder that the end was mental collapse.
Two coincident features are thus met:- rapturous accounts by participants in the gatherings, with very opposite features when the details can be tested. After forty-five years further reflection I have found no other explanation than the foregoing of the contradiction involved, gladly as I would do so. It is evident that the testimony of persons under this influence, as to what went on with and around them, is eminently unreliable. This may apply to a vast mass of narrative found in the literature of the Movement.
Continue to Part Three
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