Do you ever wonder why we seldom if ever see the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in today’s church? Several years ago, I read a short essay penned in 1745 by the great revivalist John Wesley to the newly formed Methodist movement concerning this question. In this writing, Wesley offers this insight …
“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 Christian.
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 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 “Advice to a People Called Methodist”
Wesley later added …
“It should not be reasoned that the absence of such in the church (eighteenth-century
Church of England) reflects the reluctance of God to give, rather the
reticence of the church to receive.”
~ John Wesley “Principles of a Methodist Farther Explained”
There’s really nothing more that needs to be added to Wesley’s writings other than the word “selah” (pause to meditate and reflect).