Samuel Chadwick was born in the industrial north of England in 1860. His father worked long hours in the cotton mill and, when he was only eight, Samuel went to work there, too, as a means of supporting the impoverished family. Devout Methodists, they attended chapel three times on Sunday, and as a young boy, Chadwick gave his heart to Christ. Listening to God’s word week by week, he often felt the inner call to serve Christ. It seemed impossible, as he was poor and uneducated, but in faith he made preparations. After a twelve-hour factory shift he would rush home for five hours of prayer and study.
One evening he was praying over his next sermon, when a powerful sense of conviction settled on him. His pride, blindness and reliance on human methods paraded before his eyes as God humbled him to the dust. Well into the night he wrestled and repented, then he got out his pile of precious sermons and set fire to them! The result was immediate: the Holy Spirit fell upon him.
“Methodism was born of God in the warmed heart of its founder. It grew with his growth. All its developments have their correspondence in his experience. Membership is based on personal conversion, the ordinances are ordered for the nourishing of the soul, and all things are made subservient to the bringing of men to the knowledge of the truth. John Wesley had no doctrinal eccentricities…”
The final phase of Chadwick’s life was spent as Principal of Cliff College, a Methodist training school for preachers, and it was here that he wrote his famous book, The Way to Pentecost, which was being printed when he died in 1932. In it we read:
“I owe everything to the gift of Pentecost. For fifty days the facts of the Gospel were complete, but no conversions were recorded. Pentecost registered three thousand souls. It is by fire that a holy passion is kindled in the soul whereby we live the life of God. The soul’s safety is in its heat. Truth without enthusiasm, morality without emotion, ritual without soul, make for a Church without power.
“Destitute of the Fire of God, nothing else counts; possessing Fire, nothing else matters.”