Friday, July 17, 2015

Robert Pearsall Smith and the Keswick / Higher Life Preaching of Post-Conversion Sexual Baptism: part 20 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

While Mr. Smith most clearly spread Foster’s filthy doctrine in private to a variety of his followers, usually women, he did publicly proclaim with clarity the necessity of a post-conversion Spirit baptism as the climax of the Higher Life, while pointing publicly to its sexual nature only in a guarded way.  Unsurprisingly, he also warned that those who entered the Higher Life should “expect revelations of the world of darkness”[1] far greater than those experienced by those who were merely normal, uninitiated Christians.  While many women, and some men, knew what Robert Smith meant when he spoke of the “phenomena of the coming of the Spirit upon individuals,”[2] not all understood the significance of his public proclamation at the Oxford Convention:
[H]as the Baptism of the Spirit been duly pressed upon the believer? . . . Beloved Christian, let me ask you, have you had this baptism[?] . . . [M]any Christians seem to forget that this happened again and again.  It was not the characteristic of the beginning only, but of the continuance of the dispensation in which we live. . . . [There are] phenomena [accompanying] the coming of the Spirit upon individuals[3] . . . [We ought to] expect this baptism[,] [which has] been so long lost to the Church. . . . [It brings] a thrill, an intense emotion . . . [although] [y]ou may have special temptations of Satan after this time of baptism . . . [and] the highest elevations of experience involve the most fearful dangers.[4]
Those who already had experienced the physical thrills of Baptism by the spiritual Bridegroom understood what was involved in the Higher Life doctrine of the Smiths—others were only pointed towards it by their public proclamation:[5]
[T]here is a point in our spiritual life, in which all self-imposed barriers break down . . . [j]ust so . . . there is a certain point at which a true woman breaks through all the reserve of her nature, and lets her heart go . . . the time of the soul’s espousals, when it realises its union to the heavenly Lover. . . . [T]here will spring up a sweet soul-intercourse between your soul and Him such as you have never conceived the thought of.  Often has my whole being thrilled . . . I could not understand this when I was contentious about doctrine[.] . . . Will you yield yourself to Him in this the day of your espousals? . . . [I]f earthly love be so sweet, shall not Divine love satisfy our whole being[?] . . . Earthly relationships are created but to reveal heavenly realities of union with our Lord. . . . Faith contradicts even our moral sense[.] . . . [B]reak down every barrier in your nature . . . and let your heart go[.] . . .[E]very need of a woman’s heart could be met and satisfied with the love of Christ . . . [when] the Lord reveal[s] Himself . . . as the heavenly Bridegroom, who would henceforth carry [her] in the arms of love[.] . . . [C]laim the Lord as [your] heavenly Bridegroom . . . a thrilling message [that] stirred the meeting so deeply that it seemed a necessity to give some expression to our feelings[.] . . . [Women] followed, testifiying to the same blessed experience [of the] . . . wonderous secrets of His love[.] . . . [A]s we had learned deeply the lessons of entire consecration and simple trust, we needed now to go on to consider more fully the blessed secret . . . only the soul that had entered into rest could understand . . . passages [such as] Eph v. 22-32; Isaiah lxii. 4, 5, liv. 5; Hosea ii. 16, 19, 20; Song of Sol. iv. 7-12[.] . . . The Song of Songs [contains a] blessed secret . . . that the soul is slow to understand . . . the actings of the love of espousals. . . . The believer does not fully know what Christ is until he comes to this . . . [and surrenders] throughout the whole range of our being [including the physical organism.] . . . For the consecration we have been pressing in these meetings, and the full and childlike trust, are only stepping-stones to this glorious consummation of soul-union with the Beloved[.] . . . [O]ur souls have not reached their highest destiny until it is known and rejoiced in . . . absolute abandonment . . . overmastering love. . . . Several [more] ladies followed, testifying to the joy and rest their souls had found in thus knowing Christ as the Heavenly Bridegroom . . . far more than earthly friend or husband[.] . . . Many hearts were melted . . . in view of such glorious privileges as were opened up before us.  The feeling was so great, that at the close of the meeting several met more privately[6] . . . that to each one of them this wonderous soul-union . . . might become an experimental reality. . . . [As] Boaz . . . called the claim . . . that Ruth . . . had made “showing kindness,”[7] . . . [the] Lord delights in every claim we make upon Him for union with Himself, and calls it kindness—“the kindness of thine espousals.” . . . [Let us] make our claim for this realized union . . . [with Christ] more than any earthly friend or lover ever could be. . . . This is the consummation of all Christian experience . . . the wonderous secret . . . [to be] learned by each one experimentally for herself . . . thrilled with the sweetness of His love.[8]
While the Smiths were somewhat reserved in public, others were more open in their proclaimation of the Bridal Baptism teaching.  For example, “Miss Bonnicastle sp[oke] on this subject . . . [of] conscious union of the believer and Christ as the Heavenly Bridegroom . . . at the Oxford Ladies meetings . . . [which] quite shocked a good many,”[9] but led many also into the knowledge of that Bridal Baptism.  It was common knowledge that “the “object of the . . . Meeting at Oxford . . . was to lead Christians to . . . [be] baptised with the Holy Ghost,”[10] and as a result of that Convention “there was so much” of “the Baptism of the Holy Ghost”[11] that vast multitudes received physical thrills.  Nevertheless, the full depths of Satan hidden in Robert Smith’s doctrine were not clearly revealed to all, but only to those fully initiated into the Higher Life.  Thus, experience of erotic thrills in the Baptism was the culminating and highest point to which the Higher Life led, and many, through coming to “lie passive in His hands,” came to know “the baptism of the Spirit” as allegedly set forth in the Song of Solomon and as taught by Smith.[12]
While Mr. Smith successfully proclaimed and led others to the erotic Baptism at Oxford and Brighton, divulgence of this Higher Life secret to Miss Hamilton in her bedroom shortly before the first Higher Life Convention at Keswick proved his public downfall[13]—although even through this, the Smiths did not cut off contact with Mr. Foster or Clifton Springs.[14]  “Hannah found [Robert] huddled in despair in a Paris hotel room where he had fled in his collapse.”[15]  Concerning his father’s exposure, and the attempt—which was quite successful during Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s lifetime[16]—to cover up the true reason for Mr. Smith’s downfall in his promulgation of erotic bride mysticism, Logan Pearsall Smith wrote:
“All Europe is at my feet,” . . . my poor father . . . exclaim[ed] when he stood on the platform [at the Brighton Convention].  But almost immediately an announcement appeared in the papers that he had been compelled to cancel all his engagements and to return almost at once to America.  It was suggested that a fall from a horse some years before had led to the return of certain distressing symptoms which rendered absolute rest necessary.  I must say that in the family we didn’t believe in that horse;  at least I am certain that my mother didn’t.  I don’t think she ever referred to it at all, which made people suspicious, and so universal became the gossip that my father’s friends felt it necessary to issue a further explanation.  It had come to their ears, they stated, that my father had inculcated doctrines that were most dangerous and unscriptural, and that there had been conduct on his part which, though it was free, they were convinced, from all evil intention,[17] had rendered it necessary to abstain from public work, and take the complete rest rendered necessary by the fall from his horse.  That the doctrine of Sanctification and Deadness to Sin might lead to dangerous forms of Antinomianism was well known from the history of the past . . . [b]ut this was not the doctrinal quadreped from which my father slipped at Brighton.  It was a much more mysterious beast which he had also brought from America, so mysterious that even the learned and profound Professor Warfield seems never to have guessed at its existence.[18]  But my mother knew it well[.] . . . What exactly was the nature of this doctrine?  I cannot find that it has a name, so for convenience I shall call it the doctrine of “Loving-kindness.”  It is . . . based . . . on the fact . . . that nature, in one of her grossest economies, has placed the seats of spiritual and amorous rapture so close to each other that one of them is very likely to arouse the other . . . so exactly do these two forms of ecstasy feel alike [that] . . . sometimes . . . it [is] extremely difficult to distinguish between them.[19]  From this fact it was only too easy to form the heretical belief that this heightening of religious experience, due to the mingling of the sexes, was God’s own way (and His ways were mysterious and not to be questioned by carnal reason) of bestowing His blessing upon them.  When a holy preacher sat near a sanctified sister, or a female penitent close to her confessor, they became more conscious of the Baptism of the Spirit;  and, as my mother sardonically expressed it, the nearer to each other they sat, the deeper and richer the consciousness became. . . . [I]t has taken . . . centuries to eliminate . . .  this holy kiss—if indeed [Christianity] has succeeded in doing so completely.  Certainly in my father’s time this exquisite, secret doctrine was extremely prevalent in America;  and my father, in spite of my mother’s . . . warnings,[20] would expound it to select gatherings mostly composed of spinsters of a certain age.[21]  Unluckily one of these grew jealous of another,[22] and let the great beautiful cat out of the bag, to the scandal of the righteous, and the extreme joy of the unholy, whose jokes about the “Higher Life,” as it was called, made my father feel that it would be wise for him to cease his ministrations. . . . As people grow old, it becomes very hard for them to keep clear in their minds the important distinction beteen Right and Wrong—outlines become dim and one thing fades into another. . . . At the time, however, my father found it wise, as I have said, to cease his ministrations;  though to the Cowper Temples, I think—certainly to Mrs. Cowper Temple—all this fuss seemed incomprehensible and silly.  If these good people wanted to kiss each other, what, she wondered, could be the harm in that?[23]
After the scandal in England, and the outward success of the Higher Life meetings conducted in America under the impulse of Dr. Cullis by Mr. and Mrs. Smith, despite utter lack of concern and consecration,[24] “Robert gave up preaching, [although] his wife continued.”[25]  “Robert Pearsall Smith lost more than his occupation;  he lost his faith as well. . . . [T]his disbelieving and disillusioned preacher [would have] believing disciples . . . still come for guidance . . . leav[ing] him to the awkward task of giving advice and encouragement of which he himself hardly believed a word.”[26]  Robert “went back to America and to selling glass.  His spiritual life degenerated.  He never again had a heart for ministry or for God.  He retreated to a world of Buddhist meditation and died in 1899 a broken man.”[27]  He “began to lose his faith [more completely in] 1875-1876 . . . [by] . . . 1877 he was . . . in the process of losing his faith altogether,”[28] so that he become an agnostic by 1883[29] as his “religious beliefs [were] gradually dwindling into an interest in Psychical Research.”[30]  Thus, “he gradually gave up all his Christian commitments and died alienated, but not separated, from his family. Plagued by a manic depressive nature for most of his life, he [came to be] happiest when engaged in his Buddhist meditations in his spacious tree house at the family’s home at Friday’s Hill, south of London.”[31]  As with vast numbers of Higher Life  advocates, Robert Smith’s ultimate recognition that his merely fleshly and natural emotion-driven religion had nothing in it that was truly from God led him to apostatize from Christianity.[32]  A significant part of his familial alienation derived from his years of unrepentant adultery,[33] evidencing, like his doctrinal apostasy, his unregenerate state, until he finally died in 1898 and went to his own place, where his wife joined him some years later.

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]              Pg. 43, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Compare Jessie Penn-Lewis’s affirmations that Spirit baptism brings one to revelations of the world of darkness, discussed below in the chapter concerning her and Evan Roberts.
[2]           Pg. 251, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  Mr. Smith affirms that he does not wish, at that time, “to point so much to the phenomena . . . as to the reality . . . of the coming of the Spirit” (pg. 251), for an open and explicit declaration of the erotic phenomena he thought accompanied the Baptism were not fit to be proclaimed publicly.
[3]              Robert explained that in his public discourse he did “not wish to point so much to the phenomena,” for he was not willing to explain plainly the eroticism of his doctrine to everyone present at the Oxford Convention.
[4]              Pgs. 244-259, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[5]              While this writer feels it is necessary to print the following quotation, it is exceedingly grievous to His soul to have the infinitely holy God, and the perfect purity of Jesus Christ, blasphemed in the manner that it is by those who understood and accepted the Bridal Baptism doctrine.  The glorious, blessed, and truly spiritual union of the Redeemer with His espoused church is a wonderful and awesome truth which it is the depths of vileness to drag into the gutter as the Bridal Baptism heresy does.  This writer perfectly understands, and has great sympathy with, those who would prefer to simply pass by without reading such quotations, with their double entendres for the initiated and the uninitiated, so that his mind does not need to think upon the despicable evil intended in such public proclamations for the initiated.  Singing or reading Psalm 109 might be an appropriate response by those who truly love that One before whom the seraphim sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”—or even a good preparation for the reading of the following quotation, and the rest of the quotes exposing the filthy doctrine of the Smiths and other Higher Life promulgators elsewhere in this composition.
[6]              For, in private, the Bridal Baptism doctrine could be more openly set forth;  more private explication was the practice of its advocates, whether Robert and Hannah W. Smith, Laurence Oliphant, or sexual predators who claimed that they were fathering an exalted new human race.
[7]              Compare Logan P. Smith’s description of the erotic Baptism doctrine as “the doctrine of ‘Loving-kindness’” (Pgs. 60-65, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith).
[8]              Pgs. 236-239, 270-271, 300-302, 306-314, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  The Oxford Ladies’ Meetings were led by Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Boardman (pg. 289).
Once again, this writer begs the pardon of his reader for reproducing and calling to mind the trashy filth meant by the initiated into the Bridal Baptism secret.  Reader, know that this writer sympathizes with you if you desire to vomit.  Were such quotations introduced for an insignificant purpose, they would certainly be unjustifiable—they are reproduced only because they represent the thinking of those who have profoundly influenced the doctrine of sanctification of huge portions of Christiandom—a fact that would be almost absolutely unbelievable, apart from clear evidence such as that provided in this composition, and one which illustrates how deeply Satan has laid his deceptions.
[9]              Letter to a Friend, February 12, 1876, reproduced in the entry for July 30 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[10]            Pg. 19, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago: Revell, 1874.
[11]          Pg. 215, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.
[12]            Pgs. 371-372, 384-385, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874.  It should not be a surprise that those who pointedly affirmed, “I cannot remember . . . my conversion” were prominent among the people who “heard Mr. Smith’s address on the baptism of the Holy Spirit” and received the “conscious . . . blessing” he proclaimed (pgs. 384-385).
[13]            Hannah called Dr. Foster’s heresy “the subtle doctrine concerning the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit which led my dear husband astray” (pg. 48, Remarkable Relations, Strachy; cf. pg. 104).  Mrs. Smith, as usual, downplays her own adoption of the erotic Baptism teaching.
[14]            Thus, for example, Hannah Smith was staying at Clifton Springs in July 1879 (see Letter to Anna, written from Clifton Springs on July 8, 1879, reproduced in the entry for September 16 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).
[15]            July 27-28, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[16]            Victorian sensibilities and the fact that Hannah Smith’s writings on fanaticism and various other writings were intentionally left unpublished during her lifetime account, in part, for the fact that early critics of the Keswick theology did not strongly identify the connection between Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s Higher Life doctrine and mystical, erotic bridal union.  However, the central factor is a deliberate decision to supress this portion of her and her husband’s history, both by the Higher Life men in England who forced Robert out when he was found in Miss Hattie Hamilton’s bedroom initially, and by the Smith family themselves.  Concealement was sought, rather than open repentance of and renunciation of such filthiness.  Hannah certainly sought to deliberately cover up her husband’s practices and spiritual shipwreck, both at the time and during his later decline into agnosticism:  “I think the thing to say about Robert when anyone asks about him is just this, that he never recovered from the nervous shock of that time in England, and that he is suffering an eclipse of faith from actual nervous collapse” (Letter to Priscilla, November 22, 1883, reproduced in the entry for August 12 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  She similarly sought to cover up her own adoption and propagation of the erotic doctrine.
[17]            Of course, both those who engaged in immoral debauchery, believing that such was the method through which Spirit baptism and the Higher Life were obtained, and those who taught and led others to adopt such perversions, were free from “all evil intention.”  They were sincere in their indulgence of lustful passions, and their intentions were good, or so they claimed, while their actions were utterly shameful.
[18]            That is, the mysterious declaration of Robert Pearsall Smith’s friends about unnamed “doctrines” that were “dangerous” was as far as B. B. Warfield was able to penetrate in his day when he wrote the articles that came to constitute Studies in Perfectionism;  it was as much as Stephen Barabas chose to divulge in the hagiographical and revisionist history in So Great Salvation, although in Barabas’ day the truth was much more easily accessible than it was in the days of Warfield  (see pgs. 26-27, So Great Salvation, Barabas & Warfield, Perfectionism, vol. 2, pgs. 505ff.).  Unfortunately, the coverup of Robert P. Smith by Keswick advocates such as Barabas, despite the now clearly accessible facts, continues in the work of many other modern advocates of Keswick theology.  For example, one notes the fantastic understatement on pg. 30 of Transforming Keswick:  The Keswick Convention, Past, Present, and Future,  by Price & Randall, that Robert P. Smith’s downfall was caused by nothing more than that he put his arm around Miss Hamilton;  Price & Randall breathe not a whisper about erotic bridal mysticism.  J. C. Polluck (pgs. 34-36, The Keswick Story:  The Authorized History of the Keswick Convention) says that he is revealing the truth, since the “facts have lain hidden for nearly ninety years inviting sensational speculation,” and then goes on to relate that “the truth is pathetic rather than shocking,” for Smith simply told a woman a false doctrine—the character of which Polluck leaves unnamed—“with his arm around her in his hotel room.”  It is difficult to think that Polluck’s claim that he is finally making the truth clear, and there is nothing “shocking” about it, and then stating that Robert Smith put his arm around Miss Hamilton, while Polluck refuses to breathe a syllable about erotic bridal mysticism, is anything other than a deliberate coverup to make Mr. Smith look better.  It is similar to Polluck’s refusal to mention that Smith turned agnostic and then Buddhist.  Nevertheless, the preface to Polluck’s book by A. T. Houghton, Chairman of the Keswick Council, declares that Polluck “does not cover up the failings of those whom God has used in the leadership of the Convention, nor would the Council desire to hide anything” (pg. 10).  Mr. Smith’s unconfirmed self-testimony that he had good intentions (Oliphant and the whole host of fanatics advocating erotic bridal mysticism and practicing immorality as a consequence had good intentions also) when he had his arm around Miss Hattie Hamilton alone in a hotel room is mentioned;  the fact that he told her of erotic bridal mysticism is unmentioned, the fact that at the Brighton Convention Miss Hamilton threw her arms around Mr. Smith and kissed him in Mrs. Smith’s presence is unmentioned, and the fact that Miss Hamilton said Robert sought to commit adultery with her is not mentioned (cf. pgs. 78-82, The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith, Marie Henry; pg. 111, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology, Naselli).  Keswick advocates who cover up the abominations of the founders and propagators of the Keswick theology are in plain violation of 1 Timothy 5:20:  “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”  However, while they violate the Apostle Paul’s command in 1 Timothy 5:20, they practice Robert P. Smith’s view that one is to do exactly the opposite of 1 Timothy 5:20—according to Mr. Smith, a Divine “curse” falls “on those who expose the sin of their brethren or their fathers in Christ” (pg. 42, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).
[19]            This difficulty is felt if the people involved are unconverted heretics not indwelt by the Spirit of truth, so that all their religion is not spiritual, but natural or devilish.  The confusion of fornication and spirituality consequently had much in it to attract Mr. and Mrs. Pearsall Smith, although it is utterly abominable to those truly born of God.
[20]            Mrs. Smith contributed to her husband’s adoption of erotic bridal mysticism, but she also turned away from it before he did.
[21]            That is, Mr. Smith would especially seek to share this teaching with unmarried women of an age relatively near to his own.
[22]            Did one of these ladies grow jealous of knowledge of this “truth,” or jealous when it was acted upon with another person with whom she wished to act upon it herself?
[23]            Pgs. 60-65, Unforgotten Years, Logan Pearsall Smith;  cf. pgs. 61-62, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Indeed, in light of the association of the Cowper Temples with Laurence Oliphant and other practicioners and promulgators of the doctrine that one must engage in immorality to receive Spirit baptism, the noble family’s inability to see anything wrong with the doctrine of the preachers at whose feet they sat, and whom they promoted, is understandable.
[24]            See pgs. 65-69, Unforgotten Years, Logan P. Smith, and Hannah W. Smith’s mystified amazement with the Higher Life power both she and her husband still possessed although without all consecration (pgs. 251-253, Religious Fanaticism:  Extracts from the Papers of Hannah Whitall Smith, ed. & intr. Ray Strachey; pgs. 172-174, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Smith.  Letters to her daughter, Mary Berenson, January 1, 1905 & February 25, 1905; pgs. 32-36, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Letter to Mrs. Anna Shipley, August 8, 1876; Letter to a Friend, August 8, 1876, reproduced in the entries for August 2-4 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Mrs. Smith’s ruminations over her ability to generate Higher Life results in a state of utter unconsecration has been examined above.).
[25]            Pg. 14, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[26]            Pgs. 61-62, A Religious Rebel:  The Letters of “H. W. S,” ed. Logan Pearsall Smith.  Logan explains further:
My father . . . had begun to lose his faith in the whole scheme of Salvation which he had so fervently advocated[.] . . . His situation was thus an awkward one;  he had still a reputation in the religious world, he still possessed the hypnotic power of swaying great audiences, and many calls were made upon him to address meetings and administer religious instruction to souls in trouble.  Invitations to preach he could avoid on the grounds of health, but the religious inquirers who called at the house, coming sometimes from as far as from Russia, were the source of greater embarrassment;  and I remember how desperately he would try to keep one or the other of his children in the room to avoid the necessity of a spiritual dialogue, and how quite heartlessly we would escape from it, leaving him to grapple alone with these spiritual inquirers.  This we thought great fun. (pgs. 72-73, Unforgotten Years, Logan P. Smith)
[27]            July 27-28, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.
[28]            Pgs. 175, 85, The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith, Marie Henry.  As Logan P. Smith notes, Robert began to turn towards agnosticism when it became apparent that all the “blessing” that he had felt and experienced from the time of his consecration to preaching the Higher Life in conjunction with his erotic Baptism to his final Higher Life meeting under Dr. Cullis’s encouragement in America after his downfall following the Brighton Convention was a delusion—the presence of the identical spiritual “power” and “blessing” that characterized his best earlier Higher Life ministrations in his final meeting when in an evident state of unconsecration and ungodliness was the beginning of his final fall.  Rather than recognizing that he was in need of true conversion by receiving the true gospel and coming into a true living union with the resurrected Christ so that he could have real spiritual power, Robert concluded that the marvelous effects wrought by his own natural abilities, while under the delusion that his Higher Life agitation was genuinely spiritual, were a demonstration that there could well be nothing to religion other than the psychical powers analyzable by a Psychical Research Society, and perhaps no God at all.
[29]            Pgs. 70-71, 320, 51, Remarkable Relations, Strachey, pg. 117, The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith, Marie Henry.
[30]            Pg. 74, Remarkable Relations, Strachey.
[31]          “Smith, Hannah Whitall & Smith, Robert Pearsall,” Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, ed. Tim Larson, pg. 617. Cf. pg. 107, Strachey, Remarkable Relations, pg. 127, The Secret Life of Hanah Whitall Smith, Henry.
[32]            Consider the testimony in 1912 of onetime Holiness leader Harry Ironside on the evil fruits of the Higher Life and “second blessing” theology:  “[T]housands are yearly being disheartened and discouraged by their teaching . . . hundreds yearly are ensnared into infidelity through the collapse of the vain effort to attain the unattainable . . . scores have actually lost their minds and are now inmates of asylums because of the mental resultant upon their bitter disappointment in the search for holiness” (pg. 6, Holiness:  The False and the True).
[33]            In his earlier years, Robert P. Smith preached erotic baptism to unmarried women.  “In his later years, Robert was unfaithful to his wife” (pg. 173, The Secret Life of Hannah Whitall Smith, Marie Henry; cf. pgs. 99-105 & Remarkable Relations, Strachey, pgs. 184-187).  Robert fell under the doom pronounced in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21 & Revelation 21:8.


Jeff Voegtlin said...

It appears to me that, as bizarre as this seems, this teaching is not absent from some independent baptist churches yet today. Today's installment brings to mind what I have heard about Jack Schaap's preaching. I don't know if he believed this stuff, but some of it does sound quite similar.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

Bro. Ross, your first footnote refers to Evan Roberts. Is this going to be clarified in next week's installment? Or, is the reference to something in the source referred to? Thanks.

The more I study the Bible and hear of the histories of some of the more famous "revivals" and "revivalists," the more skeptical I become. I don't know if that is one of the purposes of your writing or not.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Voegtlin,

Thanks for the comment. I agree that there are things taught by Baptists today about Spirit baptism with which the Holy Spirit would not be pleased. I don't know if Schapp is tied in to Mrs. Smith with his overly explicit teaching or not; if there was proof of a connection, I would be interested, but I am not aware of any.

I discuss Evan Roberts, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 here:

Here is an excerpt on what many Baptists and others in Wales thought about the Keswick preacher Evan Roberts--namely, that he quenched and destroyed the genuine revival that was going on in Wales by bringing in fanaticism:

The evangelical Congregationalist minister Peter Price “believed a genuine revival was taking place apart from Roberts’ activities”[446] and “stated that Roberts’s emphasis on direct and unmediated divine inspiration denied the need for the objective preaching of the person and work of Christ and so created ‘a sham revival,’ which was hindering ‘the true revival’ that had long preceded Roberts’ work.”[447] For example, “for nearly two years the Revival flame was ablaze in Cardiganshire . . . before Evan Roberts was heard of . . . and it was a pure work of God in that county. That pure stream became impure under the hoof of the enemy” as Roberts’ methods took hold.[448] In Price’s important “letter to the Western Mail . . . he wrote that there were two revivals in Wales, one a true revival based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ and the other a sham revival based on emotionalism for which Evan Roberts was the major spokesman.”[449]

KJB1611 said...

Price wrote:

I write the following in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and because I sympathize with visitors who come from long distances to see the Revival in South Wales.

Now, I think I can claim that I have had as good an opportunity as most people to understand what is really going on in South Wales; and I have come to the conclusion that there are two so-called Revivals going on amongst us. The one, undoubtedly, from above—Divine, real, intense in nature, and Cymric[450] in its form. . . . the real Divine thing. . . .

[But] people . . . may attempt to make the thing, and lo! there comes out a calf and not a God. . . . Those who will do this are the shallow ones, the noisy ones, those who think themselves filled the most with the Spirit, but who are the least. They are, in fact, the imitators, who say, “There’s something wrong here. The Spirit is not here. I have had a vision[”] . . . the stock sayings of Evan Roberts . . . [also] repeated . . . by . . . [his] imitators[.] . . . Others may be found imitating his bodily contortions, sighs, etc. This mimicry is . . . done by the would-be Evan Robertses quite as much for their own sakes as for the sake of their visitors. Breaking into song while another prays, or speaks, or preaches, is another form of the attempt to imitate Evan Roberts’s meetings.

But these things are merely the accidents of the true Revival, and form no part of its kernel. For there is a kernel, which is overwhelming in its Divine power, and many thousands have experienced it, and there are ample signs that many thousands more will be touched by it.

There is, then, a Revival which is of God—of God alone—yes, a most mighty—an Almighty Revival . . . due to the earnest prayers of godly men and women for many years, and also to the extremely earnest preaching of the Gospel, emphasizing especially the Atonement, meaning by the Atonement the substitutionary death of our Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.

Some preachers, again, laid great emphasis upon the Person and ministry of the Holy Ghost. Others, again, gave attention to the ethical aspect of our religion, but with less effect, in my opinion, as far as the present Revival is concerned. I have witnessed bursts of this real Revival as far back as two years ago. I understand that there are several would-be originators of the Revival; but I maintain that the human originator of the true Revival cannot be named. And this, to me, is one of the proofs that it is of Divine origin. I have witnessed indescribable scenes of this real Revival, effects that can never be put on paper. Hence, I have a right to say that the real Revival has not been and cannot be reported.

But there is another Revival in South Wales—a sham Revival, a mockery, a blasphemous travesty of the real thing. The chief figure in this mock Revival is Evan Roberts, whose language is inconsistent with the character of anyone except that of a person endowed with the attributes of a Divine Being. If not, what is he? Are there four persons in the Godhead, and is Evan Roberts the fourth? If so, I would call him the Commander of the Third Person, or the Master of the Spirit, for the . . . words which I myself heard from him on Monday night last at Bethania Chapel, Dowlais. The Spirit being somewhat reluctant to obey him, he said, “He must come”; but the Spirit (of whom he talked most glibly, just as a child speaks of its toy, but somewhat more off-handedly) would not obey the orders. . . . [H]e spoke as if the Spirit was entirely in his grip . . . judging by his behaviour and talk, the Holy Spirit is led by Evan Roberts!

KJB1611 said...

My honest conviction is this; that the best thing that could happen to the cause of the true religious Revival amongst us would be for Evan Roberts and his girl-companions to withdraw into their respective homes, and there to examine themselves, and learn a little more of the meaning of Christianity, if they have the capacity for this, instead of going about the country pretending to show the Way of Life to people many of whom know a thousand times more about it than they do. Why, we have scores of young colliers in Dowlais with whom Evan Roberts is not to be compared either in intellectual capacity or spiritual power.

But it is this mock Revival—this exhibition—this froth—this vain trumpery—which visitors see and which newspapers report. And it is harmful to the true Revival—very harmful. And I am horrified lest people who trust to what they see at Evan Roberts’s meetings and to newspaper reports should identify the two Revivals—the true and the false—the Heavenly fire and the ignis fatuus.

Before Evan Roberts visited Dowlais, we had the holy fire burning brightly—at white heat; and at my own church alone we could count our converts during the last five or six months by the hundreds. But what happened when Evan Roberts visited the place? People came from all parts anxious to see the man, to understand something of the movement, and to get some of the fire to take home with them. I suppose that most of them did see the man; but I doubt whether they understood the movement—even the mock movement. They had no chance to understand the true movement, nor had they a chance of catching any of the true fire, for it wasn’t there. I will say that with much effort Evan Roberts, together with his co-operators (and, evidently, they understand one another thoroughly, and each knew his or her part well and where to come in), managed, by means of threats, complaints and incantations, which reminded me of the prophets of Baal, to create some of the false fire. But never in my life did I experience such agony—the whole procedure being utterly sacrilegious. I should say that Evan Roberts must have seen and felt that he was a failure at Dowlais; but to cover the circumstance of failure, there appeared in the paper, after he had proved himself so, a prophecy concerning certain misgivings of his as to whether he ought to have undertaken a mission to Dowlais.

I should like to ask Evan Roberts a few questions; I have many more which I might ask; but I will be satisfied now with a few: . . . He said that there was someone in the lobby who was accepting Christ; but no one did. What Spirit told him this lie? . . . Why does he wait until the meetings attain the climax of enthusiasm before he enters? If help is valuable at any stage, is it not mostly so at the commencement, in order to kindle the fire? . . . Why does he visit places where the fire has been burning at maximum strength for weeks and months? Would it not be more reasonable for him to go to places which the fire has not reached? . . . What spirit makes him bad-tempered when things don’t come about exactly as he wishes? . . . What spirit makes him say, “Ask God to damn the people if you don’t ask anything else?”

“Yes, but he has a lovely face and a beautiful smile,” so some women say. This is the last resort.

May I repeat that I have written the above in the interest of the religion of Jesus Christ, and out of sympathy with visitors who come to see the Revival. I may have to suffer persecution for writing the above—even by Spirit-filled (!) men; but I don’t seek the renown of the martyr; still, if martyrdom for the truth be necessary, I am ready. To the true Revival—the gloriously real Revival—I will say and pray with all my soul,

“Cerdd ymlaen, nefol dân”

But to the bogus Revival I will say with all my soul,

“Cerdd yn ol, gnawdol dân.”

Peter Price, January 31, 1905[451]

KJB1611 said...

Thus, there was a real revival in Wales (Baptists had the most church growth through it, not the Calvinistic Methodists who get most of the attention) but the Keswick preacher Evan Roberts largely quenched it and replaced it with confusion, so that, although Baptist church membership had been growing for many years in Wales, after Roberts ended his course in Wales Baptist church membership, and that of evangelical Protestantism, began a decades-long decline that eventually left Wales the spiritual wasteland it is today. Only Pentecostalism--which arose out of the false revivalism of Evan Roberts and others in Wales--boomed.

Thanks for the comment.

Bill Hardecker said...

The link "" is faulty or at least on my screen it says something like Error 404 or Page not found. Can you please get us a corrected link. I would like to read that article. Thanks for writing about this topic. Amazingly helpful and shockingly sad at the same time. IMO.

With gratitude,

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Billy,

I have changed the link here:

into three parts, one on Evan Roberts, one on Jessie Penn-Lewis, and one on the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905. They can all be accessed here:

or here:


Bill Hardecker said...

Thank you, my Brother.