Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The gale of the Spirit

The Countess of Huntingdon recalled the funeral service of Rev. Howell Harris in 1773:

"On the day Mr. Harris was interred we had some special seasons of Divine influence both upon converted and unconverted. It was a day never to be forgotten, but I think ought to be remembered with holy wonder and gratitude by all who were present. . . . Though we had enjoyed much of the gracious presence of God in our assemblies before, yet I think I never saw so much at any time as on that day; especially when the Lord's Supper was administered, God poured out his Spirit in a wonderful manner. Many old Christians told me they had never seen so much of the glory of the Lord and the riches of his grace, nor felt so much of the gospel before."

Who wrote that? Hardly a nut. She was upper-class British, 18th-century, Jane Austen's world. A highly structured culture. Everything just so. And in that culture, in a Bible-believing, standard-brand, non-eccentric theological setting, both the converted and the unconverted were receiving an unforgettable outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks, "Does our doctrine of the Holy Spirit and his work leave any room for revival either in the individual or in the church, or is it a doctrine which says that we have all received everything we can have of the Spirit at regeneration [being 'born again'], and all we need is to surrender to what we have already? Does our doctrine allow for an outpouring of the Spirit, the 'gale' of the Spirit coming down upon us individually and collectively? . . . Is not the greatest sin among Evangelical people today that of quenching the Spirit?"

The longer I live, the more intensely I long for the end of quenching and the return of outpouring.

Quotes from D. M. Lloyd-Jones, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, pages 301-302.