Would MARIA WOODWORTH-ETTER
have approved of the
Toronto Blessing of today?
This sermon, preached by one of the forerunners of the
Toronto movement, and by a lady accepted by the TB supporters as a genuine
minister anointed by the Spirit, should give some pause for thought
amongst them - because Maria Woodworth-Etter disapproved of disorderly
meetings and recognised some manifestations as demonic. Her response
was to put a stop to them - not allow them to continue unchecked, as
Maria Woodworth-Etter (1844-1924) is one of the best known Holiness preachers
of the pre-Pentecostal era. From around 1885 onwards she began to use
the charismatic gifts in her meetings, and was known for healings, trances
and visions. Indeed, her trances were caled being "slain in the Spirit".
However, her emphasis never shifted from her call to preach the gospel
to the lost - she reportedly saw around five hundred genuine, lasting
conversions a week in her heyday. She never focussed on power or manifestations,
but simply preached the word of God, calling on men and women to repent
of sin, and seek the Saviour.
Most of the manifestations common in TE meetings were experienced
Woodworth-Etter meetings, so much so that some critics of the
trace it back to this lady! Thus, she is a perfect role-model for
leaders, and her words of wisdom, coming from her experience of
revival meetings, ought to carry some weight. Notice how she
identifies the work
of the devil, and cautions people not to give nor receive the
laying on of hands
thoughtlessly. She recognised that the devil can counterfeit the
work of God.
Life and Work of Mrs M.B.
Pages 489-493, Chapter LXI: 'Try the Spirits'
Sermon Preached to Ministers and Workers at Montwait,
Beloved "try the spirits." There are many spirits we do not want
to have anything to do with. There is our own spirit; the flesh and the devil. There are
many spirits contending, and many times we let our own spirit rule and make
ourselves think it is God; the same, with the flesh and the devil.
Sometimes we know it is not God, but we want to have our own way. If we have the
Holy Ghost we can prove the spirits, because everything the Holy Ghost does is
confirmed by the Word. We do not want to trust to tongues and interpretations.
You must measure things by the word. We must measure tongues and demonstrations
by the Word, and if they do not agree with the Word, we must not accept them;
everything must be measured by the Word.
We do know God and the voice of God, but the devil can come as an angel of
light. When you are in the Holy Ghost, that is the time the devil tries to get
in and lead you astray. The Holy Ghost is revealing some secret things; at the
same time the devil comes in, and if you are not careful, you will listen to
what he has to say and follow him.
Once I was having a wonderful vision, and right in the midst of it, the devil
said to me, "You are going to die." I was very poorly and was worked nearly to
death and I listened to the devil for a minute; then I stopped to hear what God
wanted to teach me.
I said, "What is this God is showing me? Does this agree with what God is
showing?" I saw there was a big difference. God touched my forehead, the seat of
intellect and reason: my mouth, signifying courage and power to give forth the
message, and I could not die if I was to do this; if I was to give the peopIe
His message, I was not going to die.
There was someone in the meeting here God was blessing. He wanted to use her,
but the devil came in and made her think she could do any
outrageous thing and it would be of God.
See how the devil can lead us off. She was talking in tongues and praying, and
she said, "Lord, if you want me to kill anyone, I will do it; if you want me to
set the camp on fire, I will do it."
That is the way in spiritualism; the Holy Ghost never does anything like that;
He does not come to kill and knock people's heads off; He deals with them in
love and tenderness. People have even offered up children in sacrifice. If you
listen to God, the devil will he put to one side.
These things hurt the Pentecostal movement; God is in it, but the devil is in
it, too. Many people are honest, but they do not understand. God shows great
things that are going to happen and the devil comes in and makes them set a
Daniel did not understand the vision he had, for some time; an angel appeared to
him to make him understand the vision. Be careful the devil does not come in,
and give you another meaning all together different from what God wants you to
So many prophesy this or that, and it never comes true; the prophecy was not
according to the word of God. Some one gives a person a message and he believes
God sent it, when it is not according to the Word.
When God calls you out for His work, He will take care of you, give you
something to eat and clothe you; there are so many who run before they are sent;
better not go at all. Sometimes the devil uses tongues to upset things
generally; the devil can speak in tongues, and your flesh can.
When God speaks in tongues, it means something, and you want to look for
interpretation. God says ask for interpretation. Sometimes God gives it through
someone else, but give the person who speaks in tongues a chance to interpret.
Be careful you do not give an interpretation in your own spirit; this hurts the
work everywhere. Let us try the spirits and not get in the flesh.
Some people if they do not like anyone, will give a message in tongues, or a
rebuke and nearly knock the person's head off. This is the work of the devil.
Then someone will get up - some people are so silly - and say, "Don't lay hands on
that; it is the Holy Ghost"; and no one dares to touch it, and the devil has the
It goes out that the leader sanctions all that, and people do
not want to have anything to do with it. The leader may have discernment but some one will
pull his coat-tail and say, "Don't lay hands on that." Instead of being so
afraid, let us search the scriptures. God never told anyone to rebuke in an ugly
There was a great work being done in the West. One woman, especially, said the
United States was going to be destroyed, and they should go to Japan. They
went. People who could not spare the money helped them; they went to escape the
The whole thing was of the devil. The United States were not destroyed; they
could not speak the Japanese language; they were stranded and a number backslid;
they tried to raise money for a great building, but never accomplished it. They
had been doing a good work here, but other spirits got in.
God gave me a special commission to take the precious from the vile; and I do
not want you to get into the snare of the devil. So many young people, after
their baptism, give up work and go to preaching. In a few days they tell all
they know, then tell something they don't know; bread and butter does not come
in, and many of them backslide.
Don't take up with every vision that comes along. In the Pentecostal movement
in some places, they have discarded the Word of God. They 'don't want a leader',
and God always had a leader; when there is none, the devil takes the chair. God
hath set some pastors and teachers. (Eph. iv.)
How does any one know when God calls them to the ministry? Some one has said
that when God calls anyone to do His work, you can hardly get him into the
pulpit; but when the devil calls him, you can't keep him out of it.
Hold up Jesus and try to get the people so full of the Holy Ghost that they
will live in unity **We do not want to lay hands on anyone suddenly** If we do
anything in a spirit of contention the first thing we know everything is in a
jumble and we have done more harm in one meeting than can be imagined
Hold up Jesus and the Resurrection Let us walk in the light as He is in the
light Christ is the great Headlight and I am on the stretch for more light than
I ever saw in my life, you have fellowship when you walk in the light. We are
the lower lights and He will show us what to do next.
Be careful not to lay hands suddenly on anyone. Regarding
the recent disturbance here,[presumably some kind of opposition from a group of "boys"] we
profess to be saints and we want to show forth the Spirit of Christ. We must be
firm, but kind. Do not speak roughly. The crowd want to see. I would have
nearly broken my neck when I was young to see what you are seeing.
When they became noisy, it would have been useless to attempt to use force; it
would only have ended in a fight, and the plan of the enemy would have been
accomplished. God led me in the only way by which the **disturbance could be
quelled, and order restored**; God fought for us. Do not speak roughly to the
boys; each one is some mother's boy God can smite with conviction; the battle is
His, not ours.
"Try the spirits." In one of our meetings there was a colored woman who had
wonderful experience spiritually; that is the kind the devil gets
day she commenced to go about on her knees, twisting about like a
GOD does not tell anyone to do that. She spoke in tongues; then she said, "I
don't want to do it ; I don't want to do it."
Every one knew it was not of God; and I said to her, "that is not God; the enemy
has got hold of you." At first, she didn't want to give up, but the next day
God showed her and she asked to be delivered. The devil had got in and made her
do things that were not right, to kill her influence.
A woman came to me and said. "I am afraid this spirit on me is not of God; I was
baptized in the Holy Ghost; I went into a mission where they did everything by
tongues and they got me so mixed up, I did not know where I was; then, this
spirit got hold of me; it shakes my head and makes my head
THAT IS SPIRITUALISM. Some people, when they pray for anyone and lay on hands,
throw the slime off. That is spiritualism. Don't ever do anything like that.
When you lay hands on a person, God takes care of the evil spirit. If you are
filled with the Holy Ghost, the devil is outside you; keep him out. BE CAREFUL
WHO LAYS HANDS ON YOU, FOR THE DEVIL IS COUNTERFEITING GOD'S WORK.
For two years, that woman could not give a testimony. God rebuked the shaking
spirit, the power of God came in her hands and in her voice, and she gave a
testimony for God.
That is what ails the Pentecostal movement; so much of this has
crept in. Some
people take every foolish thing for the Holy Ghost. There are two
extremes; one keeps the Holy Ghost from working, except in a certain channel: and the
other thinks everything is of the Holy Ghost; "don't lay hands on it." One is
as bad as the other. Let everything be done by the word of God.
We are living in the last days and there has got to be a higher standard for the
Pentecostal movement. Christ is coming, and we cannot move along in the old
rut. God is sifting us today and we have got to rise above errors; we have to
rise tip and go forward. By the grace of God we will. Praise His Name!