Keswick and Sanctification in the Soul
The Keswick Convention
You may wonder why I am putting up these hubs on Keswick. Of course, Keswick today is not what it was a hundred or 135 years ago! But then, England today is in spiritual shambles! You can hardly find anyone on 'fire for God' - and I am not speaking in Pentecostal fashion! I would like to remind my readers that I am not Pentecostal, and I am against charismatic theology. The present charismatic wave (an off-shoot of Pentecostalism) is nothing but evil and heresy.
But Keswick was different. You need to know who those men of God were who attended Keswick. Oh, all of them were great names, and true servants of the Lord. I don't have to tell you about Evan Hopkins or Theodore Monod or AT Pierson or Andrew Murray. There are others, whose names I do not now recollect, but it is my endeavour to find the roots of what men call 'revival' today. Keswick had a great influence upon the Welsh Revival of 1904-5. And interestingly, some of the great work in my own country in Asia, reveals the influence of Keswick teaching. Now at least I know why the name 'Jehovah Shammah' was given to the work that began in the city of Madras about 70 years ago!
This is an article written by E.W.Moore on what the Keswick Convention meant to him in those early days, 135 years ago! Among the Keswick Convention's early leading lights were Anglicans J. W. Webb-Peploe, Evan Henry Hopkins, E W Moore, William Haslam, W. Hay, M. H. Aitken, and Bishop Handley Moule, as well as the the Baptist F.B. Meyer, and the great Brethren missionary, J Hudson Taylor. Amy Carmichael dedicated her life for missionary service in India after hearing Hudson Taylor speak at Keswick.
Keswick (in the light of Isaiah chapter 6; the deeper work of sanctification in the soul)
To give, as I have been asked to do, a brief sketch of the early days of the Keswick movement is to awaken memories of half a life-time. For, if I may be permitted the statement, my first acquaintance with Keswick teaching began long before the Keswick Convention itself was thought of. Shall I ever forget the meeting in London on May 1st, 1873, attended by about sixteen persons, five or six of whom remain unto this present, but the rest are fallen asleep, at which a servant of Christ arose, and instead of, as I feared, propounding some “new theology,” gave the simple testimony that “a great blessing had come into his life through deep searchings of the heart.” Simple as the testimony was, it proved quick and powerful to some who heard it, and from that little meeting, as from an obscure source and spring, the stream of Keswick teaching and influence, which has gone round the world since then, may truly be said to have taken its rise. I was not at the first Keswick Convention, summoned by the revered Canon Battersby (after the wonderful Oxford gathering of September, 1874, and the Brighton meeting in the spring of 1875) in July of the latter year. But the next meeting I well remember in 1876, when the tent, crowded at the early seven o clock prayer-meeting in pouring rain, gave me my first impression of the earnestness of the people.
Since then how many solemn assemblies have been held at Keswick. The most fruitful, so far as my experience goes, was the Convention of 1884. Only the other day one of God’s best known servants across the border (Mr. J. G. Govan) referred, in a periodical which he edits, to that meeting as memorable in its issues for Scotland as well as England. The definite old-fashioned testimony of the eighteenth century revival, to heart purification by faith as a distinct experience subsequent to conversion, had been given from the platform and its echoes borne far away by the Breath of the Spirit, awakened response in hearts and lives and service for God elsewhere. Different stages there are and must be in the apprehension of believers of heavenly things, and as their experience so will be their testimony. But if I am asked the raison d’etre for Keswick I can only reply that so far as I am concerned the teaching stands for that deep heart-searching experience depicted in the sixth chapter of Isaiah, where the prophet, already the accepted servant of Jehovah, is convicted as he comes up into the Holy Presence of his own need of a deeper work of sanctification in his soul. Overwhelmed by the vision of the Divine Purity and contrasting with it his own unworthiness, he cries in his agony “Woe is me, I am undone,” or, in Pauline language, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” - and in that hour of deep humiliation and confession there comes upon his heart the touch of FIRE ; the flame from the altar consumes the filthiness out of him, he is “purified outward to the lips” - and as the sound of the Master s voice, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” falls on that cleansed ear there comes the glad response, “Here, Lord,” - if you can make anything of such a poor instrument as I am - “Here am I, send me!”
What is Keswick? I have sometimes been asked. Is it a great missionary meeting? No, I always reply, it is not a missionary meeting, although for many years now missionary operations have been given a large place in its programme. But Keswick, rightly understood, is not a missionary meeting. It is a meeting for making missionaries. And I do not hesitate to say that wherever its truths are really known, in other words, wherever Christ comes into full possession of a human soul, there you will find a missionary whether his work lie in the East of London or the West, in Europe or in Africa, at home or abroad. If these lines should fall into the hands of a stranger to Keswick Convention and its teaching, let me advise him to put its influence to the test of a personal experience.
The great annual gatherings differ no doubt as all anniversaries will do from each other in their measure of power and blessing. But no one I make bold to say can go to Keswick in the spirit of prayer and faith with out finding it good to be there.
It is not a religious picnic. It is a time of earnest waiting upon God. It has often been a time of transfiguration both for life and service to those who have attended it. Its privileges are great. Its responsibilities are greater still. But the best of all is that the superscription on its assemblies is the superscription of the City of God.
“The Lord is there.”
E. W. MOORE.