Hanserd Knollys (ca. 1599-1691) on the Gifts of the Spirit -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 54:1 (Spring 1992)
Article: Hanserd Knollys (ca. 1599-1691) on the Gifts of the Spirit
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin


Hanserd Knollys (ca. 1599-1691) on the Gifts of the Spirit

Michael A. G. Haykin

So meager has the church’s past reflection on the work of the Holy Spirit been judged, it has been frequently alleged that until recently pneumatology has been the Cinderella of theology.1 Stanley Horton, for instance, asserts: “A good deal of church history shows a neglect of the third person of the Trinity. Very few books were written about the Spirit in the 1700s and 1800s. Many of the writers of systematic theologies had very little to say about Him.”2 Under examination, though, this judgment harbors a somewhat shallow understanding of the history of the doctrine of the Spirit. In both the Reformed and Wesleyan traditions, to name but two major streams of Christian life and thought, there has been a great interest in the work of the Spirit. For example, referring to John Calvin (1509–1564) and the tradition which bears his name, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., states that “the work of the Holy Spirit has been a constant and even distinctive concern” for this tradition.3 In fact, Benjamin B. Warfield speaks of Calvin as “preeminently the theologian of the Holy Spirit.”4 And of Calvin’s heirs Warfield has this to say:

The formulation of the doctrine of the work of the Spirit waited for the Reformation and for Calvin, and…the further working out of the details of this doctrine and its enrichment by the profound study of Christian minds and meditation of Christian hearts has come down from Calvin only to the Puritans…It is only the truth to say that Puritan thought was almost entirely occupied with loving study of the work of the Holy Spirit, and found its highest expression in

dogmatico-practical expositions of the several aspects of it…For a century and a half afterward, indeed, this topic continued to form the hinge of the theologizing of the English Nonconformists.5

Located squarely in this Reformed heritage of pneumatological thought and experience were the English Particular or Calvinistic Baptists, who arose out of the milieu of Puritanism and became one of the leading forces of English Nonconformity. Their pneumatological concerns and perspectives, however, have been poorly documented. The following paper is a very modest step towards the redressing of this situation. Its focus is the perspective of Hanserd Knollys (ca. 1599–1691), a seventeenth-century Calvinistic Baptist, on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, an issue which has been in th...

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