Of Growth
And Strength

John Wesley Quotes on the Manifestations of the Holy Spirit

I observed many years ago, "It is hard to find words in the language of men, to explain the deep things of God. Indeed there are none that will adequately express what the Spirit of God works in his children. But perhaps one might say, By the testimony of the Spirit, I mean, an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit. – John Wesley  (The Witness of the Spirit)

Meantime let it be observed, I do not mean hereby, that the Spirit of God testifies this by any outward voice (the word that proceedeth from the mouth of the Father); no, nor always by an inward voice, although he may do this sometimes. Neither do I suppose, that He always applies to the heart (the inner witness in our hearts and spirit) though he often may one or more texts of Scripture (God also speaking through the letter of the word). But he so works upon the soul by his immediate influence, (His manifest presence) and by a strong, though inexplicable operation.  -- John Wesley (The Witness of the Spirit)

Now what is the matter of dispute concerning this? Not whether there be a witness or testimony of the Spirit. Not whether the Spirit does testify with our spirit, that we are the children of God. None can deny this, without flatly contradicting the Scriptures. -- John Wesley (The Witness of the Spirit)

"Formerly we thought, one saved from sin could not fall; now we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit, and the witness; but they have now lost both. Neither does any one stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from." -- John Wesley

This turns out to be a partial quote about the Montanist revival of the second century. Wesley here is taking Tertullian’s argument that they Church bishops had been arrogant stiff-neck and wrong and did themselves and the Church great damage in rejecting this move of the Spirit with its renewal of Tongues and Prophecy.

The grand reason why the miraculous gifts were so soon withdrawn was not only that faith and holiness were well-nigh lost, but that dry, formal, orthodox men began then to ridicule whatever gifts they had not themselves and to cry (Against) them all as evil madness. -- (Ascension Feast of John and Charles Wesley, 1791 & 1788)

This is another piece of the same discourse.

The cause of their decline  (In the early Church) was not, as has been supposed, because there is no more need for [the gifts of the Spirit], "(Or) because all the world had become Christian". ... The real cause was: the love of many, of almost all Christians so called, was waxed cold; ... The real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were no longer to be found in the Christian Church [was that] the Christians were turned heathen again, and had only a dead form left. -- (Ascension Feast of John and Charles Wesley, 1791 & 1788)

This is in reference to the quotes above and tells us it was part of a larger speech or sermon that spoke of the Montanist revival, Tertullian and the fall from grace of the early church.

"What Wesley wrote about the Montanists is instructive, and by reading between his lines we can see that he had to tread carefully. He knew of reports of tongue speaking in his own day, and he-like Paul-felt more than a little ambivalent about it. Nonetheless, about Montanus he is very straightforward. Wesley described him as a ‘real scriptural Christian’ and extolled him as ‘one of the best men ever upon the earth.’ The reason why tongue speaking and similar gifts had dissapeared, Wesley said, was that ‘dry, formal, orthodox men’ had begun to ‘ridicule’ such gifts because they themselves did not possess them." (Harvey Cox, opus cited, pge. 91)
We also note that Mr. Cox omitted these ministers of the early church declaring it “madness.”

Here is a fuller quote from it appears a different sermon.
"It does not appear that these extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were common in the church for more than two or three centuries. We seldom hear of them after that fatal period when the Emperor Constantine called himself a Christian; and, from a vain imagination of promoting the Christian cause thereby, heaped riches and power and honour upon the Christians in general, but in particular upon the Christian clergy. From this time they almost totally ceased; very few instances of the kind were found. The cause of this was not, (as has been vulgarly supposed,) `because there was no more occasion for them,' because all the world was become Christians. This is a miserable mistake; not a twentieth part of it was then nominally Christian. The real cause was, `the love of many,' almost of all Christians, so called, was `waxed cold.' The Christians had no more of the Spirit of Christ than the other heathens. The Son of Man, when he came to examine his church, could hardly `find faith upon the earth'. This was the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian church; because the Christians were turned heathens again, and had only a dead form left." –John Wesley (The More Excellent Way)

Sir, your memory fails you again: It (The gift of Prophecy and Tongues) has undoubtedly been pretended to [be practiced], and that at no great distance either from our time or country. (In Wesley’s Journal he visited a Prophetess.)  It has been heard of more than once, no farther off than the valleys of Dauphiny. Nor is it yet fifty years ago since the Protestant inhabitants of those valleys so loudly pretended to [practise] this and other miraculous powers, as to give much disturbance to Paris itself... He who worketh as He will, may, with your good leave, give the gift of tongues, where he gives no other; and may see abundant reasons so to do, whether you and I see them or not." --John Wesley’s response to Rev Dr Conyers Middleton Wesley says he considers the French prophets and their gifts false. John Wesley does not deny that those gifts were available in his day which was an uncommon view in his day.  But he goes further he acknowledges that God can distribute His gifts and operations as He sees fit, with or with Wesley’s or Conyer’s blessing.

A believer, indeed, may sometimes be grieved, because he cannot do what his soul longs for. He may cry out, when he is detained from worshipping God in the great congregation, "Like as the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: When shall I come to appear in the presence of God?"– John Wesley (The First Fruits of the Spirit)

Whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. Ezekiel 33:4.

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Acts 4:31.

1. THE same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all," (the Apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and his brethren,) "with one accord, in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost:" One immediate effect whereof was, "they began to speak with other tongues;" insomuch, that both the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and the other strangers who "came together, when this was noised abroad, heard them speak, in their several tongues, the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:1-6.)

2. In this chapter we read, that when the Apostles and brethren had been praying, and praising God, "the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" Not that we find any visible appearance here, such as had been in the former instance: Now are we informed that the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were then given to all or any of them; such as the gifts of "healing, of working" other; "miracles, of prophecy, of discerning spirits, the speaking with divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:9,10.)

3. Whether these gifts of the Holy Ghost were designed to remain in the Church throughout all ages, and whether or not they will be restored at the nearer approach of the "restitution of all things," are questions which it is not needful to decide. But it is needful to observe this, that, even in the infancy of the Church, God divided them with a sparing hand. Were all even then Prophets? Were all workers of miracles? Had all the gifts of healing? Did all speak with tongues? No, in no wise. Perhaps not one in a thousand. Probably none but the Teachers in the Church, and only some of them. (1 Corinthians 12:28-30.) It was, therefore, for a more excellent purpose than this, that "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." – John Wesley (Scriptural Christianity)
Here Wesley not only acknowledges “Speaking in tongues and prophesying as well as the whole range of gifts and operations that were being experienced in the early days of his revival but he is saying that all this is a part of Scriptural Christianity and he believes it here a little and there a little for now but it will be back in full force in the restitution of all things.  And I will add that he is saying: That even though the gifts and operations may be scarce, all believers are to be filled with the Holy Ghost.


They endeavored herein to speak to every man severally as he had need. To the careless, to those who lay unconcerned in darkness and in the shadow of death, they thundered, "Awake, thou that sleepest; arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light: "But to those who were already awakened out of sleep, and groaning under a sense of the wrath of God, their language was, "We have an Advocate with the Father; he is the Propitiation for our sins." –John Wesley (Scriptural Christianity) Here Wesley not only acknowledges “The groanings and laborings of souls” under conviction that was prevalent in his meetings but says it is a part of Scriptural Christianity

May it not be one of the consequences of this, that so many of you are a generation of triflers; triflers with God, with one another, and with your own souls? For, how few of you spend, from one week to another, a single hour in private prayer! How few have any thought of God in the general tenor of your conversation! Who of you is, in any degree, acquainted with the work of his Spirit, his supernatural work in the souls of men? Can you bear, unless now and then, in a church, any talk of the Holy Ghost? Would you not take it for granted, if one began such a conversation, that it was either hypocrisy or enthusiasm? In the name of the Lord God Almighty, I ask, What religion are you of? Even the talk of Christianity, ye cannot, will not bear. O my brethren, what a Christian city is this! "It is time for thee, Lord, to lay to thine hand!"

11. For, indeed, what probability, what possibility rather, (speaking after the manner of men,) is there that Christianity, scriptural Christianity, should be again the religion of this place? that all orders of men among us should speak and live as men "filled with the Holy Ghost?" By whom should this Christianity be restored? By those of you that are in authority? Are you convinced, then, that this is scriptural Christianity?

Are you desirous it should be restored? And do ye not count your fortune, liberty, life, dear unto yourselves, so ye may be instrumental in the restoring of it? But, suppose ye have this desire, who hath any power proportioned to the effect? Perhaps some of you have made a few faint attempts, but with how small success! Shall Christianity, then, be restored by young, unknown, inconsiderable men? I know not whether ye yourselves could suffer it. Would not some of you cry out, "Young man,  in so doing thou reproachest us?" But there is no danger of your being put to the proof; so hath iniquity overspread us like a flood. Whom, then, shall God send, — the famine, the pestilence, (the last messengers of God to a guilty land,) or the sword, "the armies of the" Romish "aliens," — to reform us into our first love? Nay, "rather let us fall into thy hand, O Lord, --John Wesley (Scriptural Christianity)

Wesley’s Journal Entries

"Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing in instant prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of his Majesty, we broke out with one voice, `We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord."
(John Wesley's Journal, Jan. 1, 1739)

"Many more were brought to the birth. All were in floods of tears, cried, prayed, roared aloud, all of them lying on the ground." (John Wesley's Journal, July 28, 1762)

"When I began to pray, the flame broke out. Many cried aloud, many sank to the ground, many trembled exceedingly." (John Wesley's Journal, September 8, 1784)

"Mr. Hall, Kinchin, Ingham, Whitefield, Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning, as we were continuing in instant prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little (that would be Wesley himself) from that awe and amazement at the presence of his Majesty, we broke out with one voice, `We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord." (John Wesley's Journal, Jan. 1, 1739)

"Many more were brought to the birth. All were in floods of tears, cried, prayed, roared aloud, all of them lying on the ground." (John Wesley's Journal, July 28, 1762)

 Wesley discuses the outward signs with Whitfield
Saturday 7-I had an opportunity to talk with him (George Whitfield) of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day he had an opportunity of informing himself better: For no sooner had he begun (in the application of his sermon) to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God, with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on his work in the way that pleaseth Him. (John Wesley’s Journal Saturday, July 7, 1739)  Wesley sees to be implying that his talk with Whitfield and the events of that meeting affected Whitfield and he softened his stance as a result.

George Whitefield, English Methodist Revivalist (1714-1770)
[1740] "Thursday, May 15. Preached at Fagg's Manor, . . . The congregation was about as large as that at Nottingham [about 12, 000]. As great, if not a greater commotion was in the hearts of the people. Most were drowned in tears, The Word was sharper than a two-edged sword. The bitter cries and groans were enough to pierce the hardest heart. Some of the people were as pale as death; others were wringing their hands; others lying on the ground; others sinking into the arms of friends; and most lifting up their eyes to Heaven and crying to God for mercy.

I could think of nothing, when I looked upon them, so much as the Great Day. They seemed like persons awakened by the last trump, and coming out of their graves to judgment. One would imagine, none could have withstood the power, or avoided crying out, `Surely God is in this place;'" (George Whitefield's Journals, Banner of Truth Trust, 1960, p. 425) Whitfield was not know for being favorable toward “Enthusiasm” He has earlier in his life rebuked people and tried to stop the manifestations. However using this as evidence after his pairing up with John Wesley, Wesley apparently was able to persuade Whitfield that these manifestations were indeed the workings of God and Whitfield apparently relented.

And from this will spring many other things, which till then he experienced not; as, the love of God shed abroad in his heart, the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost; joy, though not unfelt yet unspeakable and full of glory. -- John Wesley

These are some of those inward fruits of the Spirit, which must be felt wheresoever they are; and without these, I cannot learn from Holy Writ that any man is ‘born of the Spirit.’ I beseech you, Sir, by the mercies of God, that if as yet you know nothing of such inward feelings, if you do not ‘feel in yourself these mighty workings of the Spirit of Christ,’ at least you would not contradict and blaspheme. When the Holy Ghost hath fervently kindled your love towards God, you will know these to be very sensible operations. As you hear the wind, and feel it too, while it strikes upon your bodily organs, you will know you are under the guidance of God’s Spirit the same way, namely, by feeling it in your soul… (Wesley’s Journals, cit., entry for July 31, 1738)

Saturday Feb 21-I preached at Weaver’s Hall: It was a glorious time. Several dropped to the ground as if struck by lightning. Some cried out in bitterness of soul. I knew not where to end, being constrained to begin anew, again and again. In the acceptable time we begged of God to restore our brethren, who are departed from us for a season; and to teach us all, to "follow after the things that make for peace," and the "things whereby one may edify another." (John Wesleys Journal February 20, 1742)