They first appeared in Dauphiny and Vivarais. In the year 1688, five or six hundred Protestants of both sexes gave themselves out to be prophets, and inspired of the Holy Ghost. They soon became so numerous, that there were many thousands of them inspired. They were people of all ages and sexes without distinction, though the greatest part of them were boys and girls from six or seven to twenty-five years of age. They had strange fits, which came upon them with tremblings and faintings as in a swoon, which made them stretch out their arms and legs, and stagger several times before they dropped down. They struck themselves with their hands, they fell on their backs, shut their eyes, and heaved with their breasts. They remained a while in trances, and, coming out of them with twitchings, uttered all which came in their mouths. They said they saw the heaven open, the angels, paradise, and hell. Those who were just on the point of receiving the spirit of prophecy, dropped down not only in the assemblies, crying out mercy, but in the fields, and in their own houses.
The least of their assemblies made up four or five hundred, and some of them amounted to even three or four thousand persons. When the prophets had for a while been under agitations of body, they began to prophesy. The burden of their prophecies was, Amend your lives; repent ye: the end of all things draws nigh! The hills rebounded with their loud cries for mercy, and imprecations against the priests, the church, the pope, and against the anti-christian dominion, with predictions of the approaching fall of popery. All they said at these times was heard and received with reverence and awe. In the year 1706, three or four of these prophets came over into England, and brought their prophetic spirit along with them, which discovered itself in the same ways and manners, by ecstacies, and agitations, and inspirations under them, as it had done in France; and they propagated the like spirit to others, so that before the year was out there were two or three hundred of these prophets in and about London, of both sexes, of all ages; men, women, and children: and they had delivered under inspiration four or five hundred prophetic warnings.
The great things they pretended by their spirit was, to give warning of the near approach of the kingdom of God, the happy times of the church, the millennium state. Their message was (and they were to proclaim it as heralds to the Jews, and every nation under heaven, beginning at England, ) that the grand jubilee, the acceptable year of the Lord, the accomplishment of those numerous Scriptures concerning the new heaven and the new earth, the kingdom of the Messiah, the marriage of the Lamb, the first resurrection, or the new Jerusalem descending from above, were now even at the door; that this great operation was to be wrought on the part of man by spiritual arms only, proceeding from the mouths of those who should by inspiration, or the mighty gift of the Spirit, be sent forth in great numbers to labour in the vineyard; that this mission of his servants should be witnessed to by signs and wonders from heaven, by a deluge of judgments on the wicked universally throughout the world, as famine, pestilence, earthquakes, &c. that the exterminating angels shall root out the tares, and there shall remain upon earth only good corn; and the works of men being thrown down, there shall be but one Lord, one faith, one heart, one voice among mankind. They declared that all the great things they spoke of would be manifest over the whole earth within the term of three years. These prophets also pretended to the gift of languages, of discerning the secrets of the heart, the gift of ministration of the same spirit to others by the laying on of the hands, and the gift of healing. To prove they were really inspired by the Holy Ghost, they alleged the complete joy and satisfaction they experienced, the spirit of prayer which was poured forth upon them, and the answer of their prayer by God.