Smith Wigglesworth

The very first ‘author’ and book to be recommended here is the
Smith Wigglesworth Devotional, a book of daily readings from the ministry of this fine man. The word ‘author’ is placed in inverted commas since he didn’t himself write the book; he never wrote a book and is said never to have read a book other than the Bible, so the books that bear his name are collections from his preaching.

Wigglesworth is fairly well-known, indeed in many Pentecostal type circles his name is invoked with some awe, largely on account of the many and remarkable miracles that attended his ministry; but he is equally notable as a man of great love and of all Christian books I don’t know of any that are as rounded and whole or as strong as Wigglesworth’s. Among the lovely stories of him is this; as an old man he was seen to be shedding tears, and it seems the burden of this was that “all his life Wigglesworth has tried to point people to Jesus, but the people still want Wigglesworth!” One of his favourite sayings was that “He is a lovely Jesus”; he saw Jesus repeatedly.

Wigglesworth lived from 1859 to 1947; there are two good biographies I know of, one by Stanley Frodsham, and another by a man called Albert Hibbert; Lester Sumrall knew him in his latter years and also writes movingly of him. He was born again at an early age, entered the Salvation Army, where he met his wife to be, Polly, and together in Bradford, northern England, they ran a mission church, but Polly was the preacher; Wigglesworth was a plumber. He tells of a terrible struggle he had at one time with his temper that it took a great work of God in his life to conquer. (I am related to Wigglesworth; an uncle of mine was the very image of him, and he had a terrible temper too!) The turning point for Wigglesworth came with the outbreak of the Pentecostal movement and he was one of the earliest people in England to be baptised in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues; his resistance to this is of great interest, but the transformation in him was still greater; previously he could not preach, but now the Holy Spirit would come on him and he would speak with great power. Healings were a commonplace, some of an extraordinary nature; after the death of Polly he travelled the world bringing pentecostal power wherever he went; his words constantly emphasize faith, but it is the love for God and for man that more impress me. I like the story of the young couple who were thinking of divorce who came to him; the gruff, tough-looking Wigglesworth could only weep as they told their story and as he did the Holy Spirit came and changed the two entirely.

Wigglesworth would not permit a newspaper in his house; in his later years he professed to sometimes feeling lonely – people knew better than to invite him to a party because they knew he would turn it into a prayer meeting, but they knew where to come if they needed prayer. After eating he would say, “we have fed the body, now let us feed the soul”, and would read a portion of scripture.

Also strongly recommended is Ever Increasing Faith, but I particularly wish to recommend the Devotional published by Whitaker House. Always challenging, always fresh, it can be followed on a daily basis for years and never pall.

THERE IS NOBODY LIKE WIGGLESWORTH. I HAVE READ MULTIPLE BOOKS FROM MANY TRADITIONS, EVANGELICAL, ORTHODOX, PENTECOSTAL, DOCTRINAL, MYSTICAL…..THERE IS NO ONE WHO SO BREATHES LOVE FOR AND FAITH IN GOD LIKE HIM. Without quoting him extensively, this is not something that can be readily conveyed, however I can say that where Pentecostal preachers subsequent to him like K. Hagin and TL Osborn had marvellous things to say, the nature of their type of teaching has tended to result in churches which hugely over emphasize faith; Wigglesworth has a lot to say about being broken, being humble, suffering with Christ….and this is just so much better, so much more Biblical, so much more genuine and so much more accessible.