The Rest Of The Story
The Plumbline, Vol. 4, No. 3
Dr. Orrel Steinkamp

Paul Harvey has for years employed the above title to give us "the rest of the story." In the first half of his presentation he will often detail certain very unusual circumstances in the life of an unnamed person.  Then after a commercial break he returns and tells us who this unnamed person is. From this we are alerted that one can make a premature judgment until the whole story is known, plus the final outcome.  It is all too easy to quote someone at a certain point of their life and experience and thereby suggest that this is the whole story.  One reason I would never publish some of my early sermons is simply the fact that after the passage of time I have simply had to admit that I was wrong.

Promoters of the current "River of Revival" point to certain manifestations that took place in the ministry of John Wesley, but they neglect, to tell us the "Rest of the Story". John Cennick, Wesley's closest associate reported:

"I often doubted it (the convulsions) when I saw it and disputed with Mr. Wesley for calling it the work of God ... and frequently when none were agitated in the meetings, he prayed , Lord! where are thy tokens and signs, and I do not remember ever to have seen it otherwise than that on his so praying several were seized and screamed out." [Dallimore, Arnold, George Whitfield, Vol.1, London, Banner of Truth, 1970, p. 236]

George Whitefield was of a different opinion from Wesley concerning these manifestations and wrote him a letter saying, these manifestations it "will encourage the French Prophets, take people from the written word, and make them depend on visions, convulsions, etc. more than on the promises and precepts of the Gospel" [lbid., p. 328]

Shortly after writing this letter to Wesley, some of these violent convulsions took place in Bristol while Whitefield was preaching with Wesley present.  "Wesley suggested that this only vindicated his view saying, 'From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleases Him.'  But Whitefield was not in the least convinced that these manifestations were pleasing to the Lord and his resistance to them continued." [lbid, p. 328]

But now on to the "rest of the story". Cennick tells of a later experience of Wesley during his ministry in Kingswood in which these manifestations took on a more expressive form.  Cennick says: "In the beginning, when Mr. Wesley prayed for them, they recovered", [Wesley obviously didn't just let them convulse, he prayed for them] but he goes on to state that, with the passing of some weeks, oftentimes the same persons were seized again and again and grew intolerable, and though he prayed with them whole nights, they grew worse and worse'.  Wesley made statements to the same affect, admitting that matters were getting out of hand that he too was becoming afraid. [Ilbid., pp. 328-239]

In 1740, some years later, Wesley made the following statement: "The power of the Lord was present in His word, both to wound and heal.  The adversary roared in the midst of the congregation; for to him, not to the God of order, do I impute those horrible outcries which almost drowned my voice and kept back the glad tidings from sinners." [Ibid, pp. 328-329]

Twenty-three years later Wesley gave his version of the rest of the story regarding "manifestations".  The following extracts from Wesley's Journal appeared in a letter in the Baptist Times:

"In 1763, he [Wesley] referred to a report he received of "a great noise in Wales", where some congregations, after the preaching was over, were in the habit of giving out the verse of a hymn, 'This they sing over and over with all their might ... perhaps above thirty, yea, forty times.  Meanwhile bodies of two or three, sometimes ten or twelve, are violently agitated, and leap up and down, in all manner of postures, frequently for hours together. In Wesley's view 'there needs to be no great penetration to understand this.  They are honest, upright men, who really feel the love of God in their hearts.  But they have little experience, either of the ways of God, or the devices of Satan.  So he [Satan] serves himself of their simplicity in order to wear them out, and bring discredit on the Work of God.

A further 13 years on, in 1786, he [Wesley] wrote from Chapel-en-le-Ferth of those who had been "awakened, justified, and soon perfected in love", adding that "even while they are full of love, Satan strives to push many of them to extravagances.  This, he [Wesley] wrote, appeared in several instances:
1. Frequently three or four, yes ten or twelve, pray aloud all together.
2. Some of them, perhaps many, scream all together as loud as they possibly can.
3. Some of them use improper, yes, indecent, expressions in prayer.
4. Several drop down as dead; and are as stiff as a corpse; but in a little while they start up, and cry, 'Glory! Glory!' Perhaps twenty times together.  'Just so do the French prophets and very lately the Jumpers in Wales, bring the real work into contempt.  Yet, whenever we reprove them, it should be in the most mild and gentle manner possible." [The Baptist Times (United Kingdom), The Toronto Blessing: Unity of Division?' February 2, 1995)

It is only by careful selection of Wesley's words at the outset of his ministry that the proponents of the Toronto Blessing and Brownsville River of God meetings can suggest that Wesley and others promoted similar convulsions and paroxysms in their day as are currently being featured.  If we could ask Wesley today, without doubt he would probably refer to the "great noise" in Toronto and Brownsville.