By David Kowalski
One Sunday in 1855, Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon titled “The Power of the Holy Ghost.” In the midst of the sermon, he speaks in a manner that can only be described as prophetic, as he speaks of a coming, latter-day outpouring of God’s Spirit upon His people.
I had the opportunity to discuss this sermon with Dr. Gary McGee before he passed away. Others may disagree, but I consider McGee to be the most reliable and knowledgeable authority on Pentecostal history to ever address the subject. McGee smiled and did not accept this as necessarily a reference to the Pentecostal revival — suggesting it as possibly a forward glimpse into the Welsh revival (Spurgeon does say below ” Perhaps there shall be no miraculous gifts—for they will not be required.” — though, of course, one could stress the word “perhaps,” and Spurgeon does speak of utterance gifts).
Spurgeon is usually noted especially for his eloquence, but he was a very spiritual man who relied fully on the working of the Holy Spirit in his ministry. Historians record services at the Metropolitan Tabernacle (where Spurgeon pastored) in which there was such an awesome sense of God’s presence that none dared to speak. It does not shock me to read of Spurgeon speaking in this prophetic manner.
As to exactly what he was speaking, I cannot say dogmatically — though my response to Dr. McGee was, “Well, I’m a Pentecostal and I’m claiming it for us.” You may disagree if you like.
“Another great work of the Holy Spirit, which is not accomplished, is the bringing on of the latter-day glory. In a few more years—I know not when, I know not how—the Holy Spirit will be poured out in a far different style from the present. There are diversities of operations; and during the last few years it has been the case that the diversified operations have consisted in very little pouring out of the Spirit. Ministers have gone on in dull routine, continually preaching—preaching—preaching, and little good has been done.
I do hope that perhaps a fresh era has dawned upon us, and that there is a better pouring out of the Spirit even now. For the hour is coming, and it may be even now is, when the Holy Ghost shall be poured out again in such a wonderful manner, that many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased—the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the surface of the great deep; when his kingdom shall come, and his will shall be done on earth even as it is in heaven.
We are not going to be dragging on forever like Pharoah, with the wheels off his chariot. My heart exults, and my eyes flash with the thought that very likely I shall live to see the outpouring of the Spirit; when “the sons and the daughters of God again shall prophesy, and the young men shall see visions and the old men shall dream dreams.”
Perhaps there shall be no miraculous gifts—for they will not be required; but yet there shall be such a miraculous amount of holiness, such an extraordinary fervor of prayer, such a real communion with God, and so much vital religion, and such a spread of the doctrines of the cross, that every one will see that verily the Spirit is poured out like water, and the rains are descending from above. For that let us pray; let us continually labor for it, and seek it of God.” — Charles Spurgeon (June 17, 1855) 1