How Pentecost Came To Los Angeles


I went to Burbank Hall, the New Testament Church Sunday morning, April 15. A colored sister was there and spoke in “tongues.” This created a great stir. The people gathered in little companies on the sidewalk after the service inquiring what this might mean. It seemed like Pentecostal “signs.” We then learned that the Spirit had fallen a few nights before, April 9, at the little cottage on Bonnie Brae street. They had been tarrying very earnestly for some time for an outpouring. A handful of colored and white saints had been waiting there daily. It was just at Easter season again. For some reason I was not privileged to be present at that particular meeting. A number had spoken in “tongues” there. I went to the Bonnie Brae meeting in the afternoon, and found God working mightily. We had been praying for many months for victory. Jesus was now “showing himself alive” again, to many. The pioneers had broken through, for the multitude to follow.

There was a general spirit of humility manifested in the meeting. They were taken up with God. Evidently the Lord had found the little company at last, outside as always, through whom he could have right of way. There was not a mission in the country where this could be done. All were in the hands of men. The Spirit could not work. Others far more pretentious had failed. That which man esteems had been passed by once more and the Spirit born again in a humble “stable,” outside ecclesiastical establishments as usual.

A body must be prepared, in repentance and humility, for every outpouring of the Spirit. The preaching of the Reformation was begun by Martin Luther in a tumble down building in the midst of the public square in Wittenberg. D’Aubigne describes it as follows: “In the middle of the square at Wittenberg stood an ancient wooden chapel, thirty feet long and twenty wide, whose walls, propped up on all sides, were falling into ruin. An old pulpit made of planks, and three feet high, received the preacher. It was in this wretched place that the preaching of the Reformation began. It was God’s will that that which was to restore His glory should have the humblest surroundings. It was in this wretched enclosure that God willed, so to speak, that his well-beloved Son should be born a second time. Among those thousands of cathedrals and parish churches with which the world is filled, there was not one at that time which God chose for the glorious preaching of eternal life.”

In the revival in Wales the great expounders of England had to come and sit at the feet of crude, hard working miners, and see the wonderful works of God. I wrote for the “Way of Faith” at this time: “The real thing is appearing among us. The Almighty will again measure swords with Pharaoh’s magicians. But many will reject Him and blaspheme. Many will fail to recognize Him, even among His professed followers. We have been praying and believing for a ‘Pentecost,’ Will we receive it when it comes?

The present Pentecostal manifestation did not break out in a moment, like a huge prairie fire, and set the world on fire. In fact no work of God ever appears that way. There is a necessary time for preparation. The finished article is not realized at the beginning. Men may wonder where it came from, not being conscious of the preparation, but there is always such. Every movement of the Spirit of God must also run the gauntlet of the devil’s forces. The Dragon stands before the bearing mother, ready to swallow up her child. - (Rev. 12:4.) And so with the present Pentecostal work in its beginning. The enemy did much counterfeiting. God kept the young child well hid for a season from the Herods, until it could gain strength and discernment to resist them. The flame was guarded jealously by the hand of the Lord, from the winds of criticism jealousy, unbelief, etc. It went through about the same experiences that all revivals have, its foes were both inside and out. Both Luther and Wesley experienced the same difficulties in their time. We have this treasure in “earthen vessels.” Every natural birth is surrounded by circumstances not entirely pleasant. God’s perfect work is wrought in human imperfection. We are creatures of “the fall.” Then why expect a perfect manifestation in this case? We are coming “back to God.”

John Wesley writes of his time: “Almost as soon as I was gone two or three began to take their imaginations for impressions from God. Meantime, a flood of reproach came upon me almost from every quarter. Be not alarmed that Satan sows tares among the wheat of Christ. It has ever been so, especially on any remarkable outpouring of the Spirit; and ever will be, until the devil is chained for a thousand years. Till then he will always ape, and endeavor to counteract the work of the Spirit of Christ.” D’Aubigne has said: “A religious movement almost always exceeds a just moderation. In order that human nature may make one step in advance, its pioneers must take many.”

Another writer says: “Remember with what accompaniments of extravagance and fanaticism the doctrine of justification by faith was brought back under Luther. The wonder was, not that Luther had the courage to face pope and cardinals, but that he had courage to endure the contempt which his own doctrines brought upon him, as espoused and paraded by fanatical advocates. Recall the scandal and offense which attended the revival of heart piety under Wesley. What we denounce as error may be “the refraction of some great truth below the horizon.”

John Wesley himself once prayed, after the revival had about died out for the time: “Oh, Lord, send us the old revival, without the defects; but if this cannot be, send it - with all its defects. We must have the revival.”

Adam Clark said: “Nature will always, and Satan too, mingle themselves as far as they can, in the genuine work of the Spirit, in order to discredit and destroy it. Nevertheless in great revivals of religion, it is almost impossible to prevent wild-fire from getting in among the true fire.”

Dr. Seiss says: “Never, indeed, has there been a sowing of God on earth, but it has been oversown by Satan; or a growth for Christ, which the plantings of the wicked one did not mingle with and hinder. He who sets out to find a perfect church, in which there are no unworthy elements, and no disfigurations, proposes to himself a hopeless task.”

Still another writer says: “In the various crises that have occurred in the history of the church, men have come to the front who have manifested a holy recklessness that astonished their fellows. When Luther nailed his theses to the door of the cathedral at Wittenberg, cautious men were astonished at his audacity. When John Wesley ignored all church restrictions and religious propriety and preached in the fields and by-ways, men declared his reputation was ruined. So it has been in all ages. When the religious condition of the times called for men who were willing to sacrifice all for Christ, the demand created the supply, and there have always been found a few who were willing to be regarded reckless for the Lord. An utter recklessness concerning men’s opinions and other consequences is the only attitude that can meet the exigencies of the present times.” God found His Moses, in the person of Brother Smale, to lead us to the Jordan crossing. But He chose Brother Seymour, for our Joshua, to lead us over.

Sunday, April 15, the Lord called me to ten days of special prayer. I felt greatly burdened but had no idea of what He had particularly in mind. But He had a work for me, and wanted to prepare me for it. Wednesday, April 18, the terrible San Francisco earthquake came, which also devastated the surrounding cities and country. No less than ten thousand lost their lives in San Francisco alone. I felt a deep conviction that the Lord was answering our prayers for a revival in His own way. “When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” - Isa. 26:9. A tremendous burden of prayer came upon me that the people might not be indifferent to His voice.

Thursday, April 19, while sitting in the noon meeting at Peniel Hall, 227 South Main street, the floor suddenly began to move with us. A most ugly sensation ran through the room. We sat in awe. Many people ran into the middle of the street, looking up anxiously at the buildings, fearing they were about to fall. It was an earnest time. I went home and after a season of prayer was impressed of the Lord to go to the meeting which had been removed from Bonnie Brae street to 312 Azusa street. Here they had rented an old frame building, formerly a Methodist church, in the center of the city, now a long time out of use for meetings. It had become a receptacle for old lumber, plaster, etc. They had cleared space enough in the surrounding dirt and debris to lay some planks on top of empty nail kegs, with seats enough for possibly thirty people, if I remember rightly. These were arranged in a square, facing one another.

I was under tremendous pressure to get to the meeting that evening. It was my first visit to “Azusa Mission.” Mother Wheaton, who was living with us, was going with me. She was so slow that I could hardly wait for her. I have always been a “lone wolf” for this very reason. My time is not my own. I am His servant. “The King’s business requires haste.” We cannot wait all day for some one to get ready who neither has the orders, nor feels the necessity. “Salute no man by the way.” God’s business is important. He requires obedience. Thus we also keep out of some one else’s way. There is too much involved to fail God. Let those take their time and come behind who have no message. The devil can often use them tremendously to hinder those who have.

We finally reached “Azusa” and found about a dozen saints there, some white, some colored. Brother Seymour was there, in charge. The “Ark of God” moved off slowly, but surely, at “Azusa.” It was carried “on the shoulders” of His own appointed priests in the beginning. We had no “new cart” in those days, to please the carnal, mixed multitude. We had the devil to fight, but the Ark was not drawn by oxen (dumb beasts). The priests were “alive unto God,” through much preparation and prayer. Discernment was not perfect, and the enemy got some advantage, which brought reproach to the work, but the saints soon learned to “take the precious from the vile.” The combined forces of hell were set determinedly against us in the beginning. It was not all blessing. In fact the fight was terrific. The devil scraped the country for crooked spirits, as always, to destroy the work if possible. But the fire could not be smothered. Strong saints were gathered together to the help of the Lord. Gradually the tide arose in victory. But from a small beginning, a very little flame.

I gave a message at my first meeting at “Azusa.” Two of the saints spoke in “tongues.” Much blessing seemed to attend the utterance. It was soon noised abroad that God was working at “Azusa.” All classes began to flock to the meetings. Many were curious and unbelieving, but others were hungry for God. The newspapers began to ridicule and abuse the meetings, thus giving us much free advertising. This brought the crowds. The devil overdid himself again. Outside persecution never hurt the work. We had the most to fear from the working of evil spirits within. Even spiritualists and hypnotists came to investigate, and to try their influence. Then all the religious sore-heads and crooks and cranks came, seeking a place in the work. We had the most to fear from these. But this is always the danger to every new work. They have no place elsewhere. This condition cast a fear over many which was hard to overcome. It hindered the Spirit much. Many were afraid to seek God, for fear the devil might get them.

We found early in the “Azusa” work that when we attempted to steady the Ark the Lord stopped working. We dared not call the attention of the people too much to the working of the evil. Fear would follow. We could only pray. Then God gave victory. There was a presence of God with us, through prayer, we could depend on. The leaders had a limited experience, and the wonder is the work survived at all against its powerful adversaries. But it was of God. That was the secret.

A certain writer has well said: “On the day of Pentecost, Christianity faced the world, a new religion - without a college, a people, or a patron. All that was ancient and venerable rose up before her in solid opposition. And she did not flatter or conciliate any one of them. She assailed every existing system, and every bad habit, burning her way through innumerable forms of opposition. This she accomplished with her “tongue of fire” alone.

Another writer has said: “The apostacy of the early church came as a result of a greater desire to see the spread of its power and rule than to see new natures given to its individual members. The moment we covet a large following and rejoice in the crowd that is attracted by our presentation of what we consider truth, and have not a greater desire to see the natures of individuals changed according to the divine plan, we start to travel the same road of apostacy that leads to Rome and her daughters.”
I found the earthquake had opened many hearts. I was distributing especially my last tract, “The Last Call.” It seemed very appropriate alter the earthquake. Sunday, April 22, I took 10,000 of these to the New Testament Church. The workers seized them eagerly and scattered them quickly throughout the city.

Nearly every pulpit in the land was working overtime to prove that God had nothing to do with earthquakes and thus allay the fears of the people. The Spirit was striving to knock at hearts with conviction, through this judgment. I felt indignation that the preachers should be used of Satan to drown out His voice. Just as he later used them to stir up hatred and murder, during the great war. Even the teachers in the schools labored hard to convince the children that God was not in earthquakes. The devil put on a big propaganda on this line.

I had been much in prayer since the earthquake, and had slept little. After the shock in Los Angeles the Lord told me definitely he had a message for me for the people. On the Saturday after, He gave me a part of it. On Monday the rest was given. I finished writing it at 12:30 A. M. Tuesday, ready for the printer. I kneeled before the Lord and He met me in a powerful way, a powerful witness that the message was from Him. I was to have it printed in the morning. From that time until 4 A. M. I was wonderfully taken up in the spirit of intercession. I seemed to feel the wrath of God against the people and to withstand it in prayer. He showed me he was terribly grieved at their obstinacy in the face of his judgment on sin. San Francisco was a terribly wicked city.

He showed me all hell was being moved to drown out His voice in the earthquake, if possible. The message He had given me was to counteract this influence. Men had been denying His presence in the earthquake. Now He would speak. It was a terrific message He had given me. I was to argue the question with no man, but simply give them the message. They would answer to Him. I felt all hell against me in this, and so it proved. I went to bed at 4 o’clock, arose at 7, and hurried with the message to the printer.

The question in almost every heart was, “Did God do that?’ But instinct taught men on the spot that He had. Even the wicked were conscious of the fact. The tract was set up quickly. The same day it was on the press, and the next noon I had my first consignment of the tract. I was impressed I must hasten and get them to the people as quickly as possible. I was reminded that the ten days I was called by the Lord to prayer was up the very day I received the first of the tracts. I understood it all now, clearly.

The enemy tried to hinder, by smashing a part of the type in the press. I had warned the printer of this. But it was set up again so that I lost no time through it. I distributed the message speedily in the missions, churches, saloons, business houses, and in fact everywhere, both in Los Angeles and Pasadena. Besides I mailed thousands to workers in nearby towns for distribution. The whole undertaking was a work of faith. I began without a dollar. But He supplied the money, as needed. I worked hard every day. Brother and Sister Otterman distributed them in San Diego. It required courage. Many raved at the message. I went through all the dives with them in Los Angeles. All hell was stirred. A man followed me on the street raving like a maniac. He followed me into a business house, to do me violence. But the Lord protected. He then tore my tract up publicly at the curb, to show his hate. Many threw the message down in a rage, only to pick it up again and read it. It seemed God held them to it. The saddest part was the fact that nearly all the preachers worked with the enemy in the matter. But I was only giving them the Word of God, on earthquakes.

I ordered the tracts in 25,000 lots. A policeman was put on my track. The people were stirred up so. But the Spirit warned me and I saw him coming. I was enabled to dodge him. He would have stopped the circulation of the tract before my work was done. I could feel hell’s rage rolling up against me like a cloud. But God gave me courage for the work. Hundreds were distributed in Santa Barbara. A conductor stopped me giving them out on a Pasadena car, though the people were reaching out their hands for them. He threatened to throw me off the car. The devil was stirred. Orders came in for thousands from towns in Southern California which I mailed to them. Everyone was curious for the tract, though it burned the most of them like fire. Sometimes they would get so excited on the street cars they would get off before they reached their street. My very presence seemed to convict many. My soul was steeped in prayer. The message struck consternation to thousands of souls. I have never written a tract that had so much influence.

God sent Brother Boehmer from Pasadena to help me. He stood outside and prayed while I went into the saloons with them. They were mad enough to kill me in some instances. Business was at a standstill after the news came from San Francisco. The people were paralyzed with fear. This accounted to some extent for-the influence of my tract. The pressure against me was terrific. All hell was surging around me, to stop the message. But I never faltered. I felt God’s hand upon me continually in the matter. The people were appalled to see what God had to say about earthquakes. He sent me to a number of meetings with a solemn exhortation to repent and seek Him. At “Azusa Mission” we had a powerful time. The saints humbled themselves. A colored sister both spoke and sang in “tongues.” The very atmosphere of Heaven was there.

Sunday, May 11, I had finished my “Earthquake” tract distribution. Then the burden suddenly left me. My work was done. Seventy-five thousand had been published and distributed in Los Angeles and Southern California, in less than three weeks’ time. At Oakland, Brother Manley, of his own volition, had printed and distributed 50,000 more, in the Bay Cities and ‘round about, in about the same space of time. The following are some extracts from the “Earthquake” tract:

“But what has God to do with earthquakes? ‘When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.’ - Isa. 26:9. Which removeth the mountains, when He overturneth them in His anger, which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.’ - Job 9:5, 6. ‘The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt; and the earth is upheaved at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by Him,’ - Nahum 1:5, 6. ‘And I will punish the world for their evil. Therefore I will make the heavens to tremble, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place, in the day of His fierce anger - Isa, 13:11, 13. Then the earth shook and trembled, the foundations also of the mountains moved, and were shaken, because He was wroth. There went up a smoke in His wrath, and fire out of His mouth devoured. The Lord thundered from Heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice. Then the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were laid bare, by the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of the breath of His anger.’ - Ps. 18. ‘Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and turneth it upside down (perverteth the face thereof), and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The foundations of the earth do shake, the earth is utterly broken, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall be moved to and fro. The transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it.’ - Isa. 24:1, 18, 20. ‘Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of Hosts with earthquakes, and great noise, and the flame of a devouring fire.’ - Isa. 29:6. ‘Men shall go into the caves of the rocks, from before the terror of the Lord, when he arises to shake terribly the earth.’ - Isa. 2:19. ‘And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air and there was a great earthquake.’ - Rev, 16:17, 18. And will you claim there is no God in earthquakes? John Wesley has said, ‘Of all the judgments which the righteous God inflicts on sinners here, the most dreadful and destructive is an earthquake.’ ” - From “Earthquake Tract,” April, 1906.

The San Francisco earthquake was surely the voice of God to the people on the Pacific Coast. It was used mightily in conviction, for the gracious after revival. In the early “Azusa” days both Heaven and hell seemed to have come to town. Men were at the breaking point. Conviction was mightily on the people. They would fly to pieces even on the street, almost without provocation. A very “dead line” seemed to be drawn around “Azusa Mission,” by the Spirit. When men came within two or three blocks of the place they were seized with conviction. I took a run to San Diego and preached twice a day for Brother and Sister Otterman, The Lord blessed my ministry, and the change was a blessing, after the tremendous strain I had been under. I had asked the Lord for my fare if He wanted me to go, and He gave it. It was now June. Returning home I distributed tracts at the Free Methodist camp meeting. I asked the Lord for ten dollars, and he gave me twenty.

The work was getting clearer and stronger at, “Azusa.” God was working mightily. It seemed that every one had to go to “Azusa.” Missionaries were gathered there from Africa, India, and the islands of the sea. Preachers and workers had crossed the continent, and come from distant islands, with an irresistible drawing to Los Angeles. “Gather my saints together, etc.” - Ps. 50:1-7. They had come up for “Pentecost,” though they little realized it. It was God’s call. Holiness meetings, tents and missions began to close up for lack of attendance. Their people were at “Azusa.” Brother and Sister Garr closed the “Burning Bush” hall, came to “Azusa,” received the “baptism,” and were soon on their way to India to spread the fire. Even Brother Smale had to come to “Azusa,” to look up his members. He invited them back home, promised them liberty in the Spirit, and for a time God wrought mightily at the New Testament Church also.

There was much persecution, especially from the press. They wrote us up shamefully, but this only drew the crowds. Some gave the work six months to live. Soon the meetings were running day and night. The place was packed out nightly. The whole building, upstairs and down, had now been cleared and put into use. There were far more white people than colored coming. The “color line” was washed away in the blood. A. S. Worrell, translator of the New Testament, declared the “Azusa” work had rediscovered the blood of Christ to the church at that time. Great emphasis was placed on the “blood,” for cleansing, etc. A high standard was held up for a clean life. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” - Isa. 59:19. Divine love was wonderfully manifest in the meetings. They would not even allow an unkind word said against their opposers, or the churches. The message was the love of God. It was a sort of “first love” of the early church returned. The baptism as we received it in the beginning did not allow us to think, speak, or hear evil of any man. The Spirit was very sensitive, tender as a dove. The Holy Spirit is symbolized as a dove. A dove has no gall bladder. We knew the moment we had grieved the Spirit, by an unkind thought or word. We seemed to live in a sea of pure divine love. The Lord fought our battles for us in those days. We committed ourselves to His judgment fully in all matters, never seeking to even defend the work or ourselves. We lived in His wonderful, immediate presence. And nothing contrary to His pure Spirit was allowed there.

The false was sifted out from the real by the Spirit of God. The Word of God itself decided absolutely all issues. The hearts of the people, both in act and motive, were searched to the very bottom. It was no joke to become one of that company. No man “durst join himself to them” except he meant business, to go through. It meant a dying out and cleaning up process in those days, to receive the ‘‘baptism.” We had a “tarrying” room upstairs, for those especially seeking God for the “baptism,” though many got it in the main assembly room also. In fact they often got it in their seats in those days. On the wall of the tarrying room was hung a placard with the words, “No talking above a whisper.” We knew nothing of “jazzing” them through at that time. The Spirit wrought very deeply. An unquiet spirit, or a thoughtless talker, was immediately reproved by the Spirit. We were on “holy ground.” This atmosphere was unbearable to the carnal spirit. They generally gave this room a wide berth unless they had been thoroughly subdued and burned out. Only honest seekers sought it, those who really meant business with God. It was no “lethal chamber,” nor place to throw fits, or blow off steam in. Men did not “fly to their lungs” in those days. They flew to the mercy seat. They took their shoes off, figuratively speaking. They were on “holy ground.” “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

Arthur Booth-Clibborn has written the following weighty words for the “Pentecostal” people: “Any cheapening of the price of Pentecost would be a disaster of untold magnitude. The company in the upper room, upon whom Pentecost fell, had paid for it the highest price. In this they approached as near as possible to Him who had paid the supreme price in order to send it. Do we ever really adequately realize how utterly lost to this world, how completely despised, rejected and outcast was that company? Their master and leader had just passed, so to speak, through the ‘hangman’s rope,’ at the hands of the highest civilization of the day. Their Calvary was complete, and so a complete Pentecost came to match it. The latter will resemble the former in completeness. We may, therefore, each of us say to ourselves: As thy cross, so will thy Pentecost be. God’s way to Pentecost was via Calvary. Individually it must be so today also. The purity and fullness of the individual Pentecost must depend upon the completeness of the individual Calvary. This is an unalterable principle.”

Friday, June 15, at “Azusa,” the Spirit dropped the heavenly chorus” into my soul. I found myself suddenly joining the rest who had received this supernatural “gift.” It was a spontaneous manifestation and rapture no earthly tongue can describe. In the beginning this manifestation was wonderfully pure and powerful. We feared to try to reproduce it, as with the “tongues” also. Now many seemingly have no hesitation in imitating all the “gifts.” They have largely lost their power and influence because of this. No one could understand this “gift of song” but those who had it. It was indeed a “new song,” in the Spirit. When I first heard it in the meetings a great hunger entered my soul to receive it. I felt it would exactly express my pent up feelings. I had not yet spoken in “tongues.” But the “new song” captured me. It was a gift from God of high order, and appeared among us soon after the “Azusa” work began. No one had preached it. The Lord had sovereignly bestowed it, with the outpouring of the “residue of oil,” the “Latter Rain” baptism of the Spirit. It was exercised, as the Spirit moved the possessors, either in solo fashion, or by the company. It was sometimes without words, other times in “tongues.” The effect was wonderful on the people. It brought a heavenly atmosphere, as though the angels themselves were present and joining with us. And possibly they were. It seemed to still criticism and opposition, and was hard for even wicked men to gainsay or ridicule.

Some have condemned this “new song,” without words. But was not sound given before language? And is there not intelligence without language also? Who composed the first song? Must we necessarily follow some man’s composition, before us, always? We are too much worshippers of tradition. The speaking in ‘‘tongues” is not according to man’s wisdom or understanding. Then why not a “gift of song?” It is certainly a rebuke to the “jazzy” religious songs of our day. And possibly it was given for that purpose. Yet some of the old hymns are very good to sing, also. We need not despise or treat lightly of them. Some one has said that every fresh revival brings in its own hymnology. And this one surely did.

In the beginning in “Azusa” we had no musical instruments. In fact we felt no need of them. There was no place for them in our worship. All was spontaneous. We did not even sing from hymn books. All the old, well known hymns were sung from memory, quickened by the Spirit of God. “The Comforter Has Come,” was possibly the one most sung. We sang it from fresh, powerful heart experience. Oh, how the power of God filled and thrilled us. Then the “blood” songs were very popular. “The life is in the blood,” Sinai, Calvary, and Pentecost, all had their rightful place in the “Azusa” work. But the “new song” was altogether different, not of human composition. It cannot be successfully counterfeited. The crow cannot imitate the dove. But they finally began to despise this “gift,” when the human spirit asserted itself again. They drove it out by hymn books, and selected songs by leaders. It was like murdering the Spirit and most painful to some of us, but the tide was too strong against us. Hymn books today are largely a commercial proposition, and we would not lose much without most of them. The old tunes, even, are violated by change, and new styles must be gotten out every season, for added profit. There is very little real spirit of worship in them. They move the toes, but not the hearts of men. The spirit of song given from God in the beginning was like the Aeolian harp, in its spontaniety and sweetness. In fact it was the very breath of God, playing on human heart strings, or human vocal cords. The notes were wonderful in sweetness, volume and duration. In fact they were oftimes humanly impossible. It was “singing in the Spirit.”

Brother Seymour was recognized as the nominal leader in charge. But we had no pope or hierarchy. We were “brethren.” We had no human programme. The Lord Himself was leading. We had no priest class, nor priest craft. These things have come in later, with the apostatizing of the movement. We did not even have a platform or pulpit in the beginning. All were on a level. The ministers were servants, according to the true meaning of the word. We did not honor men for their advantage, in means or education, but rather for their God-given “gifts.” He set the members in the “body.” Now “A wonderful and horrible thing is come to pass in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and My people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof.” - Jer. 5:30, 31. Also “As for my people, children are their oppressors (sometimes grown up ones), and women rule over them.” - Isa. 3:12.

Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty shoe boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there. The services ran almost continuously. Seeking souls could be found under the power almost any hour, night and day. The place was never closed nor empty. The people came to meet God. He was always there. Hence a continuous meeting. The meeting did not depend on the human leader. God’s presence became more and more wonderful. In that old building, with its low rafters and bare floors, God took strong men and women to pieces, and put them together again, for His glory. It was a tremendous overhauling process. Pride and self-assertion, self-importance and self-esteem, could not survive there. The religious ego preached its own funeral sermon quickly.

No subjects or sermons were announced ahead of time, and no special speakers for such an hour. No one knew what might be coming, what God would do. All was spontaneous, ordered of the Spirit. We wanted to hear from God, through whoever he might speak. We had no ”respect of persons.” The rich and educated were the same as the poor and ignorant, and found a much harder death to die. We only recognized God. All were equal. No flesh might glory in His presence. He could not use the self-opinionated. Those were Holy Ghost meetings, led of the Lord. It had to start in poor surroundings, to keep out the selfish, human element. All came down in humility together, at His feet. They all looked alike, and had all things in common in that sense at least. The rafters were low, the tall must come down. By the time they got to “Azusa” they were humbled, ready for the blessing. The fodder was thus placed for the lambs, not for giraffes. All could reach it.

We were delivered right there from ecclesiastical hierarchism and abuse. We wanted God. When we first reached the meeting we avoided as much as possible human contact and greeting. We wanted to meet God first. We got our head under some bench in the corner in prayer, and met men only in the Spirit, knowing them “after the flesh” no more. The meetings started themselves, spontaneously, in testimony, praise and worship. The testimonies were never hurried by a call for “pop corn.” We had no prearranged programme to he jammed through on time. Our time was the Lord’s. We had real testimonies, from fresh heart-experience. Otherwise, the shorter the testimonies, the better. A dozen might be on their feet at one time, trembling under the mighty power of God. We did not have to get our cue from some leader. And we were free from lawlessness. We were shut up to God in prayer in the meetings, our minds on Him. All obeyed God, in meekness and humility. In honor we “preferred one another.” The Lord was liable to burst through any one. We prayed for this continually. Some one would finally get up anointed for the message. All seemed to recognize this and gave way. It might be a child, a woman, or a man. It might be from the back seat, or from the front. It made no difference. We rejoiced that God was working. No one wished to show himself. We thought only of obeying God. In fact there was an atmosphere of God there that forbade any one but a fool attempting to put himself forward without the real anointing. And such did not last long. The meetings were controlled by the Spirit, from the throne. Those were truly wonderful days. I often said that I would rather live six months at that time than fifty years of ordinary life. But God is just the same today. Only we have changed.

Some one might be speaking. Suddenly the Spirit would fall upon the congregation. God himself would give the altar call. Men would fall all over the house, like the slain in battle, or rush for the altar enmasse, to seek God. The scene often resembled a forest of fallen trees. Such a scene cannot be imitated. I never saw an altar call given in those early days. God himself would call them. And the preacher knew when to quit. When He spoke we all obeyed. It seemed a fearful thing to hinder or grieve the Spirit. The whole place was steeped in prayer. God was in His holy temple. It was man to keep silent. The shekinah glory rested there. In fact some claim to have seen the glory by night over the building. I do not doubt it. I have stopped more than once within two blocks of the place and prayed for strength before I dared go on. The presence of the Lord was so real.

Presumptuous men would sometimes come among us. Especially preachers who would try to spread themselves, in self-opinionation. But their effort was short lived. The breath would be taken from them. Their minds would wander, their brains reel. Things would turn black before their eyes. They could not go on. I never saw one get by with it in those days. They were up against God. No one cut them off. We simply prayed. The Holy Spirit did the rest. We wanted the Spirit to control. He wound them up in short order. They were carried out dead, spiritually speaking. They generally bit the dust in humility, going through the process we had all gone through. In other words they died out, came to see themselves in all their weakness, then in childlike humility and confession were taken up of God, transformed through the mighty “baptism” in the Spirit. The “old man” died with all his pride, arrogancy and good works. In my own case I came to abhor myself. I begged the Lord to drop a curtain so close behind me on my past that it would hit my heels. He told me to forget every good deed as though it had never occurred, as soon as it was accomplished, and go forward again as though I had never accomplished anything for Him, lest my good works become a snare to me.

We saw some wonderful things in those days. Even very good men came to abhor themselves in the clearer light of God. The preachers died the hardest. They had so much to die to. So much reputation and good works. But when God got through with them they gladly turned a new page and chapter. That was one reason they fought so hard. Death is not at all a pleasant experience. And strong men die hard.

Brother Ansel Post, a Baptist preacher, was sitting on a chair in the middle of the floor one evening in the meeting. Suddenly the Spirit fell upon him. He sprang from his chair, began to praise God in a loud voice in “tongues,” and ran all over the place, hugging all the brethren he could get hold of. He was filled with divine love. He later went to Egypt as a missionary. Let us have his own testimony for it: “As suddenly as on the day of Pentecost, while I was sitting some twelve feet right in front of the speaker, the Holy Spirit fell upon me and filled me literally. I seemed to be lifted up, for I was in the air in an instant, shouting “Praise God,” and instantly I began to speak in another language. I could not have been more surprised if at the same moment some one had handed me a million dollars,” - Ansel Post, in “Way of Faith.”

After Brother Smale had invited his people back and promised them liberty in the Spirit I wrote the following, in “Way of Faith:” “The New Testament Church received her “Pentecost” yesterday. We had a wonderful time. Men and women were prostrate under the power all over the hall. A heavenly atmosphere pervaded the place. Such singing I have never heard before, the very melody of Heaven. It seemed to come direct from the throne.” - June 22, 1906.

In the “Christian Harvester” I wrote, at the same date: “At the New Testament Church a young lady of refinement was prostrate on the floor for hours, while at times the most heavenly singing would issue from her lips. It would swell away up to the throne, and then die away in an almost unearthly melody. She sang, ‘Praise God! Praise God!’ All over the house men and women were weeping. A preacher was flat on his face on the floor, dying out, ‘Pentecost’ has fully come.”

We had several all nights of prayer at the New Testament Church. But Pastor Smale never received the “baptism” with the “speaking in tongues.” He was in a trying position. It was all new to him. Then the devil did his worst, to bring the work into disrepute and destroy it. He sent wicked spirits among us to frighten the pastor and cause him to reject it.

But Brother Smale was God’s Moses, to lead the people as far as the Jordan, though he himself never got across. Brother Seymour led them over. And yet, strange to say, Seymour himself did not speak in “tongues” until some time after “Azusa” had been opened. Many of the saints entered in before him. All who received this “baptism” spoke in “tongues.”

Many were stumbled in the beginning at “Azusa” because of the nature of the instruments first used. I wrote in “Way of Faith” as follows: “Some one has said it is not the man who can build the biggest brush heap, but rather the one who can set his heap on fire, that will light up the country. God can never wait for a perfect instrument to appear. If so He would certainly be waiting yet. Luther himself declared he was but a rough woodsman, to fell the trees. Pioneers are of that nature. God has polished Melancthons, to follow up and trim and shape the timber symmetrically. A charge of dynamite does not produce the finished product. But it does set loose the stones that later stand as monuments, under the sculptor’s skilled hand. Many high dignitaries of the Roman church in Luther’s time were convinced of the need of a reformation, and that he was on the right track. But they declared, in so many words, that they could never consent that this new doctrine should issue from “such a corner.” That it should be a monk, a poor monk, who presumes to reform us all, said they, is what we cannot tolerate. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”

Fallen humanity is such a peculiar thing at its best, so shattered that it is very imperfect. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” In the embryotic stage of all new experiences much allowance must be made for human frailty. There are always many coarse, impulsive, imperfectly balanced spirits among those first reached by a revival, also. Then our understanding of the Spirit of God is so limited that we are liable to make a mistake sometimes, failing to recognize all that may be really of God. We can understand fully only in the measure that we ourselves possess the Spirit. Snap judgment is always dangerous. “Judge nothing before the time.” The company used at “Azusa” mission, to break through, were the “Gideon’s band” that opened the way to victory for those to follow.

I wrote further in “Way of Faith,” August 1, 1906: “Pentecost” has come to Los Angeles, the American Jerusalem. Every sect, creed, and doctrine under Heaven is found in Los Angeles, as well as every nation represented. Many times I have been tempted to wonder if my strength would hold out to see it. The burden of prayer has been very great. But since the spring of 1905, when I first received this vision and burden, I have never doubted the final outcome of it. Men are now in trouble of soul everywhere, and the revival with its unusual phenomena is the topic of the day. There is terrible opposition manifested also. The newspapers here are very venomous, and most unfair and untrue in their statements. The pseudo systems of religion are fighting hard also. But, ‘the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies.’ Their ‘hiding places’ are being uncovered. A cleansing stream is flowing through the city. The Word of God prevails.

“Persecution is strong. Already the police have been appealed to to break up the meetings. The work has been hindered much also by fanatical spirits, of which the city has far too many. It is God and the devil for it, a battle royal. We can do little but look on and pray. The Holy Spirit Himself is taking the lead, setting aside all human leadership largely. And woe to the man who gets in His way, selfishly seeking to dictate or control. The Spirit brooks no interference of this kind. The human instruments are largely lost sight of. Our hearts and minds are directed to the Lord. The meetings are crowded out. There is great excitement among the unspiritual and unsaved.

“Every false religion under Heaven is found represented here. Next to old Jerusalem there is nothing like it in the world. (It is on the opposite side, near half way around, with natural conditions very similar also.) All nations are represented, as at Jerusalem. Thousands are here from all over the Union, and from many parts of the world, sent of God for ‘Pentecost. These will scatter the fire to the ends of the earth. Missionary zeal is at white heat. The ‘gifts’ of the Spirit are being given, the church’s panoply restored. Surely we are in the days of restoration, the ‘last days,’ wonderful days, glorious days. But awful days for the withstanders. They are days of privilege, responsibility, and peril.

“Demons are being cast out, the sick healed, many blessedly saved, restored, and baptized with the Holy Ghost and power. Heroes are being developed, the weak made strong in the Lord. Men’s hearts are being searched as with a lighted candle. It is a tremendous sifting time, not only of actions, but of inner, secret motives. Nothing can escape the all-searching eye of God. Jesus is being lifted up, the ‘blood’ magnified, and the Holy Spirit honored once more. There is much ‘slaying power’ manifest. And this is the chief cause of resistance on the part of those who refuse to obey. It is real business. God is with us in great earnestness. We dare not trifle. Strong men lie for hours under the mighty power of God, cut down like grass. The revival will be a world-wide one, without doubt.” - F. Bartleman in “Way of Faith,” August, 1906. Some time later, the pastor of the Trinity Church, M. E. South, of Los Angeles, uttered the following words: “Here on the Pacific Coast, where the sons of men meet from every quarter of the globe, prophetic souls believe the greatest moral and spiritual battles are to be fought - the Armageddon of the world.”

Evan Roberts’ “Message to the Churches,” was voiced by him in the following lines of an old poem: “While the fire of God is falling, while the voice of God is calling, brothers, get the flame. While the torch of God is burning, men’s weak efforts overturning, Christians get the flame. While the Holy Ghost is pleading, human methods superseding, He himself the flame. While the power hard hearts is bending, yield thy own, to Him surrendering, all to get the flame. For the world at last is waking, and beneath His spell is breaking, into living flame. And our glorious Lord is seeking, human hearts, to rouse the sleeping, fired with heavenly flame. If in utter self-surrender, you would work with Christ, remember, you must get the flame. For the sake of bruised and dying, and the lost in darkness lying, we must get the flame. For the sake of Christ in glory, and the spreading of the story, we must get the flame. Oh, my soul, for thy refining, and thy clearer, brighter shining, do not miss the flame. On the Holy Ghost relying, simply trusting and not trying, you will get the flame. Brothers, let us cease our dreaming, and while God’s flood-tide is streaming, we will have the flame.”

I wrote a little tract in June, 1906, of which the following are extracts: “Opportunity once passed, is lost forever. There is a time when the tide is sweeping by our door. We may then plunge in and be carried to glorious blessing, success and victory. To stand shivering on the bank, timid, or paralyzed with stupor, at such a time, is to miss all, and most miserably fail, both for time and for eternity. Oh, our responsibility! The mighty tide of God’s grace and favor is even now sweeping by us, in its prayer-directed course. There is a river (of salvation) the streams whereof make glad the city of God. - Ps. 46:4. It is time to ‘get together,’ and plunge in, individually and collectively. We are baptized ‘in one Spirit, into one body,’ - I Cor. 12:13. Let us lay aside all carnal contentions and divisions, that separate us from each other and from God. If we are of His body, we are ‘one body.’ The opportunity of a lifetime, of centuries, is at our door, to be eternally gained or lost. There is no time to hesitate. Act quickly, lest another take thy crown. Oh, church of Christ, awake! Be baptized with power. Then fly to rescue others. And to meet your Lord.” - F. Bartleman.

“If anti-Christ is about to make his mightiest and most malignant demonstration, ought not the church to confront him with mighty displays of the Spirit’s saving power?” - Gordon.

A. B, Simpson said: “We are to witness before the Lord’s return real missionary “tongues” like those of Pentecost, through which the heathen world shall hear in their own language ‘the wonderful works of God,’ and this perhaps on a scale of whose vastness we have scarcely dreamed, thousands of missionaries going forth in one last mighty crusade from a united body of believers at home to bear swift witness of the crucified and coming Lord to all nations.”

Arthur T. Pierson has said: “The most alarming peril of today is naturalism - the denial of all direct divine agency and control. Science is uniting with unbelief, wickedness and worldliness, skepticism and materialism, to rule a personal God out of the universe. This drift toward materialism and naturalism demands the supernatural as its only corrective. In Enoch’s time human sin was fast making atheists, and God ‘took him,’ spirit, soul, and body, that men might be startled with the proof of a Divine Being, and an invisible world. In Elijah’s day, general apostasy was rebuked by the descent of horses and chariots of fire; and if ever men needed to be confronted with fruits of power above nature - a living God back of all the forces and machinery He controls, who does answer prayer, guide by His providences, and convert by His grace, it is now.” Oh, our weakness! Oh, our unbelief! May the Lord help us back to Pentecostal experiences. “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?”

“The presence of God in the church will put an end to infidelity. Men will not doubt His Word when they feel His Spirit. For a thousand reasons we need that Jehovah should come into the camp, as aforetimes He visited and delivered His people from bondage in Egypt.” - Spurgeon’s Dying Appeal.

Blog editor: This chapter is not proof-read and may contain small spelling errors.

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