Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pentecostals before the Pentecostal movement?

Were the Primitive Methodists Pentecostals? Given that the movement started in 1807, nearly one hundred years before the Pentecostal movement in Azusa Street, this is an interesting question. They certainly experienced powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Both of the founding fathers of the movement, Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, experienced a personally powerful baptism of the Spirit (see this link for more details).

At the 1829 Annual Conference address it was noted that “Both preachers and all others should look more diligently for the baptism, or outpouring of the Spirit, both upon them and their children”.

The biographer of Hugh Bourne wrote that at the end of his life “the Pentecostal gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit seem to absorb his almost every thought, and his zeal is, if possible, redoubled in the work of the ministry”. At this time Hugh Bourne regularly preached on the ‘Pentecost’.

In the Primitive Methodist magazine for 1824, Hugh Bourne wrote an article in conversational style on the cultivation of spiritual gifts.

“Friend – The scripture, in 1 Cor 14:1 says, ‘Desire spiritual gifts;’ and in 1 Cor 12:31, ‘Covet earnestly the best gifts.’ Now it is necessary, not only to covet and desire, but also to cultivate spiritual gifts; for every gift of the spirit increases and enlarges by exercise. All the spiritual gifts depend greatly on faith, and by works is faith made perfect; and though fervent effectual prayer is one great means to be used in their cultivation, yet conversation on their nature may also be extremely useful.

In 1824 Bourne wrote about the gift of healing. “Having met with striking instances of the exercise of that spiritual gift, which is called – ‘The gift of healing by the same (Holy) Spirit,’ I was satisfied that the Lord had not withdrawn it from man. I was aware that the cultivation of it, as well as of the other spiritual gifts, depended much upon faith that worketh by love, - faith that rests on the scriptures, in all plainness, simplicity, and godly sincerity.” Further, he documents two examples of physical healing.

Were the Primitive Methodists Pentecostal? Yes, in the sense of being a movement of the Holy Spirit where the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit were taught and experienced.

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