I should like to offer a few bits of historical evidence regarding the prophetic gift. One point about this particular evidence is that it comes from the centre, not the fringe, of the evangelical tradition. I would also point out that these examples all relate to times of spiritual awakening (revival).
The Scottish reformer Robert Bruce was renowned for his extraordinary spiritual powers. He himself said, ‘There comes never thing to me, trouble or alteration, but He gives me warning before.’ It was said in those days that ‘it is ordinary with God to give his servants whom he stirres up and employes in extraordinary employments with extraordinar gifts and endewments, such as the gift of prophecie. Such prophets there were many in Scotland, about and shortlie after the tyme of the reformation, viz., Messrs Wishart, Knox, Welsh…They foirprophecied many things, whereof some were fulfilled in their own dayes, and all of them after their death.’ (Quoted by Gardner, in Healing miracles)
A book with impeccable reformed credentials is Kennedy’s The Days of the Fathers in Ross-shire (1861). He was conscious of the opinion which some would form:- ‘I expected that many would count me credulous and some call me superstitious and a few denounce me as fanatical, because of some anecdotes I gave, to prove how near to God were the godly of former days.’ These ‘anecdotes’ included instances when God vouchsafed to believers intimations of his will. Kennedy says:- ‘It is not difficult to find the reason why those, who are themselves strangers to communion with God, are so ready to denounce as superstitious all faith in the reality of information from heaven, besides that which is given in the direct teachings if Scripture…”It is pretending to know,” they say, “what is not revealed in Scripture.” This sounds well. It seems, at first sight, due to the Word of God, as the only complete revelation of His will, that we should at once regard as false all information regarding the mind of God not derived from the plain import of Scripture. They have never gone beneath the surface in their thinking on this matter, who have not discovered the extremeness of this view. But, backed by this false assumption, some will quote, with an air of triumph, the pretensions to inspiration, the claims of the gift of prophecy, the faith in dreams and visions, of those whom all acknowledge to have been deceivers and deceived. To minds that have always kept far off from the realities of a life of godliness, that look from a distance on the communion of His people with the Lord, the difference between the baseless pretensions of deceivers and the God-given privilege of the righteous is utterly impalpable. All kinds of intercourse with the Invisible are classed by these together, and to them all who claim the privilege of communion with the Lord appear as deluded fanatics. More triumphant still is their air, when they can quote, in support of their position, the mistakes of those who were truly godly. But, surely, it is not difficult to discover a very good reason why the Lord should allow even these to be sometimes deceived in their anticipations, and in their readings of the page of Providence. Such mistakes only prove that they are always prone to error, when the correctness of their information specially depends upon their own spirituality. They need to learn this, and their falls will teach them.’
David Morgan exercised unusual abilities for quite a short period during the 1859 revival in Wales. He had been seeking revival for some years, and had become very unhappy with the state of his own ministry. One Tuesday night, he went to bed as usual:- ‘He awoke about 4 am, and was instantly conscious that some strange, mysterious changes had come over him. He became aware with awe of a marvellous illumination of his faculties, especially of his memory. “I awoke about four in the morning,’ said he himself, ‘remembering everything of a religious nature that I had ever learnt or heard.”‘ (Evans, Revival Comes to Wales)
Consider the following example from David Morgan’s ministry:- ‘In the middle of his sermon, he startled his audience by suddenly exclaiming, ‘If any of you here tonight deny the deity of the Son, I have nothing better to tell you than what Morgan Howell, Newport, shouted on Lampeter bridge, “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. He became poor when he came to Bethlehem; tell me, when was he rich?”‘ This remark was utterly irrelevant to the preacher’s subject-matter, and no one could conjecture whence it came, and whither it went. The mystery was solved in the after-meeting, for among the converts were three Unitarians…who presence in the service was quite accidental, and certainly unknown to the preacher.’ Evans, (Revival Comes to Wales)
Preaching during the centenary of the 1859 Welsh revival, Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserted: ‘[In revival] there is very often a gift of prophecy given. I mean by that, literally an ability to foretell the future…I knew a man whose minister had this gift…in the revival of 1904 and 1905. It disappeared completely afterwards, but while the revival lasted he was told beforehand of something that was going to happen in his Church, not once, but morning by morning. He would be awakened out of his sleep at half past two in the morning, and be given direct and exact information of something that was going to happen during that day, and it did happen. You find knowledge given to people, which is quite inexplicable. There were cases in Northern Ireland, for instance, of people who could not read and could not write…but suddenly…they were given an ability to find places in the Bible and to make known the contents. It happened to the mill girls in Northern Ireland. Poor girls who had been brought up in poverty and penury, who were ignorant and who had had practically no education, they suddenly began to prophesy. They displayed amazing knowledge and were able to speak in an unusual manner.’ (Lloyd-Jones, Revival, 135ff.)