Below is an excerpt from the memoirs of 19th century preacher D. S. Warner. He shared what happened one night at a camp meeting near St. James, Missouri.
“We met also a much larger host of saints than we had expected to find in this country. Praise God for this! But oh, how soon we saw and felt that Satan, the deceiver, had passed a dreadful network of deception over them or nearly all of them! Unseemly and even hideous operations and contortions were carried on and called the manifestations of the Spirit and power of God. We began at once to rebuke it in the name of the Lord Jesus. God gloriously blessed our souls in preaching his word and assured us that he had much people there who were honest and sincere at heart and who would be delivered by the presentation of his word. The supposed gift of tongues was alarmingly increasing. Indian war dances, etc., had turned the church into something quite different, a disgusting maze of confusion. We were helped of God in teaching them “how they ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God.”
A terrible nervous jerking had seized upon many in the meetings, which in some cases resembled much St. Vitus’ dance. We speak of these things in order to give the saints of God everywhere the benefit of what these precious souls have learned in the dear school of experience. We have never seen such manifestation except in persons possessed with devils, and yet the Spirit of God showed us these were not possessed, but were for the most part, still owned by the Lord. We read 1 Cor. 12:13, 14 and showed the beautiful harmony of the church under control of the Spirit of God: that ‘love does not behave itself unseemly;’ that the spirit of tongues was not of general usefulness, and was a sign to the Jews, not generally edifying to the church; and that other gifts should be sought in preference, and unless he or someone else interpret, the persons having the gift should keep keep silent or speak to himself; that ‘five words with the understanding is better than ten thousand in an unknown tongue;’ that spasmodic jerking is not mentioned in the Bible as a manifestation of God’s Spirit, but ascribed to a malignant spirit.
We renounced that working as of the devil. It seemed that one brother who had been powerfully charged by the Holy Spirit had become puffed up, which gave place to this satanic working. Then Satan made it the standard of being filled with the Spirit and power of God; therefore many earnestly prayed for it. They forgot that the Holy Spirit makes intercessions for us only according to the will of God, and whatever one prays for outside the will of God must be suggested by some other spirit. But some were blinded and puffed up by the devil. Satan had free access to their minds under cloak of the Spirit of God. Those who were not affected by the foolish jerking of the devil were judged by the devil and made to believe they did not have the Spirit of God because they did not jerk. Thus all were under depression and more or less bewildered.
Oh, dear saints of God everywhere, do not ascribe to the Spirit of God ludicrous and unbecoming conduct, such as chattering like a coon or barking like a dog, and all hideous looks!
Well, praise God, the word of God was received. Some at first resented, but God soon convicted them, and they became teachable. Nearly all the foolish stuff was rid out of the camp after one discourse explaining and renouncing it. Intelligent sinners respected the truth of God that exposed the devil’s counterfeit and some who loved the true church wept for joy to see the abomination put away. Many came bowing at the altar, and the glorious work of cleansing went forward.”