The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield,
Volume I (of 2), by Luke Tyerman

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Title: The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield, Volume I (of 2)

Author: Luke Tyerman

Release Date: November 25, 2013 [EBook #44280]

Language: English

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In Three Volumes. Price 7s. 6d. each volume.






"It deserves the praise, not only of being the fullest biography of Wesley, but also of being eminently painstaking, veracious, and trustworthy."—The Edinburgh Review.

"Mr. Tyerman's volumes constitute by far the most exhaustive, as they are certainly the bulkiest, and from many points of view the most interesting, of the lives of Wesley. Mr. Tyerman's judgment is usually characterised by great clearness and good sense; his pen seems to be always governed by the desire to be fair and impartial, and for the first time our libraries receive a full and comprehensive memoir of the great religious teacher and ecclesiastical statesman."—The British Quarterly Review.

"The most copious account of the great evangelist's life and labours, and the noblest literary tribute to his memory, which has yet been offered to the world."—Methodist Recorder.

"The narratives of travel through England, Scotland, and Ireland, the records of evangelistic labour, the gradual building up of Wesleyanism as a system, form a history of great interest, and allure the reader on from chapter to chapter, with all the attraction of a romance. We cannot doubt that Mr. Tyerman's work, so rich and abundant in materials, will henceforth be regarded as the standard life of Wesley."—The Evangelical Magazine.

"We are thankful for a new and carefully revised edition of this very laborious, interesting, and important work, the value of which is great and obvious. The portraits as now rendered, are very striking and self-evidencing, and of real historical value."—Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.

"This is the most truthful, full, accurate, and painstaking of all the lives of Wesley."—The Methodist.

HODDER & STOUGHTON, 27, Paternoster Row, E.C.


Revd. George Whitefield, B.A.
Engraved by J Cochran










Hazell Watson, and Viney, Printers, London and Aylesbury.


Every one who wishes to understand and rightly estimate the Methodist movement of the last century, must, not only read the lives of the two Wesleys, but also, make himself acquainted with the history of Whitefield, and the career of the Methodist contemporaries of the illustrious trio.

John Wesley was Methodism's founder, and Charles its hymnologist. John Clayton became a man of mark among the High Church clergymen of the Episcopal Communion. James Hervey belonged to the Evangelical section of the Church of England, and, by his writings, influenced not a few of the country's aristocracy. Benjamin Ingham, by his preaching, left a deep impress on Yorkshire, and other parts of the North of England. John Gambold rendered inestimable service, in moderating and correcting the extravagances of the Moravian Brotherhood. Thomas Broughton gave an impetus to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which is felt to the present day. Richard Hutchins, as Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, helped to mould the character of students, who afterwards rose to great distinction. To each of these distinguished men, Providence assigned a sphere of unusual usefulness. They moved in different orbits, but all were made a blessing to the world.

George Whitefield was pre-eminently the outdoor preacher;—the[iv] most popular evangelist of the age;—a roving revivalist,—who, with unequalled eloquence and power, spent above thirty years in testifying to enormous crowds, in Great Britain and America, the gospel of the grace of God. Practically, he belonged to no denomination of Christians, but was the friend of all. His labours, popularity, and success were marvellous, perhaps unparalleled. All churches in England, Wales, Scotland, and the British settlements in America, were permanently benefited by his piety, his example, and the few great truths which he continually preached; whilst the Methodism organised by his friend Wesley—especially in the northern counties of the kingdom—was, by his itinerant services, promoted to a far greater extent than the Methodists have ever yet acknowledged.

The world has a right to know all that can be told of such a man. To say nothing of almost innumerable sketches, at least half a dozen lives of Whitefield have been already published. If the reader asks why I have dared to add to the number of these biographies? I answer, because I possessed a large amount of biographical material which previous biographers had not employed, and much of which seems to have been unknown to them. This is not an empty boast, as will be evident to every one who compares the present work with the lives of Whitefield which have preceded it.

In collecting materials for the "Life and Times of Wesley," and for the "Oxford Methodists," I met with much concerning Whitefield; and, since then, I have spared neither time, toil, nor money in making further researches relating to the great evangelist. With the exception of a few instances, all of which are acknowledged, my facts are taken from original sources; and, though to say so may savour of vanity, I believe there is now no information concerning Whitefield, of any public importance, which is not contained in the present volumes.

I have been obliged to employ a few of Whitefield's letters,[v] which I had previously published in the "Life and Times of Wesley." This was unavoidable; but the repetition is extremely limited, and is never used except when justice made it necessary.

Whitefield was a Calvinist: I am an Arminian; but the book is not controversial. Whitefield's sentiments and language have been honestly and truly quoted; and I have not attempted to refute his theological opinions. On such subjects, men, at present, must agree to differ.

The Life is not written with special regard to the interests of any Church whatever,—Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, or even Methodist. Whitefield, indeed, called himself a member and minister of the Church of England; but, in reality, he belonged to the Church Catholic. He loved all who loved Jesus Christ, and was always ready to be their fellow-labourer. It is right to add, however, that, as a matter of fact, I have felt bound to shew that the friendship between Whitefield and the Wesleys was much more loving and constant than it has been represented by previous biographers; and that Whitefield's services to Methodism were more important than the public generally have imagined.

Without the least desire to depreciate any of the lives of Whitefield already published, I may be allowed to say, they are not without errors. Instead, however, of confuting the errors, one by one, as I have met with them, I have, as a rule, not noticed them; but have simply narrated facts, bearing on the respective cases, without comment and without colouring.

The foot-notes are more numerous than I like, and this has prevented my adding to their number by giving all the references for the statements I have made; but, if the truthfulness of any statement be called in question, it will be an easy task to adduce the authority in support of it. For the notices of American ministers and gentlemen, I am chiefly indebted to the "Biographical and Historical Dictionary" of the Rev. William Allen, D.D., President of Bowdoin College,[vi] and Member of the Historical Society of Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.

The book is neither artistic nor philosophic. I have merely done my utmost to collect information concerning Whitefield, and have related the facts as clearly, concisely, and honestly as I could. I have also, as far as possible, acted upon the principle of making Whitefield his own biographer. Perhaps, I ought to apologise for the introduction of such lengthened details concerning the first few years of Whitefield's public life. Apart from being influenced by the fact, that, it was during this eventful period that Whitefield's character was formed, and his unique mission among men determined, I was wishful to give to the Christian Church, at least, the substance of his Journals—Journals which, unlike those of his friend Wesley, have never been republished, and which, in consequence of their rareness, are almost quite unknown.

The two portraits are copied from original engravings, which Dr. Gillies, Whitefield's friend and first biographer, pronounced the most exact likenesses of the great preacher ever published.

Whitefield's power was not in his talents, nor even in his oratory, but in his piety. In some respects, he has had no successors; but in prayer, in faith, in religious experience, in devotedness to God, and in a bold and steadfast declaration of the few great Christian truths which aroused the churches and created Methodism,—he may have many. May Whitefield's God raise them up, and thrust them out! The Church and the world greatly need them.

L. Tyerman.

Stanhope House, Clapham Park, S.W.
October 16th, 1876.



1714 to 1732.

Whitefield's Genealogy—Autobiography—Birth—Wickedness—St. Mary de Crypt School—Tapster—Religious Feelings—Reformation—Dr. Adams—Sin and Penitence—An Orator

1732 to 1735.

Oxford Methodists—Pembroke College—Dr. Johnson—Whitefield a Servitor—Law's 'Serious Call'—Joins Oxford Methodists—Charles Wesley—Satanic Temptations—Introduced to John Wesley—Two Converts—Whitefield's Conversion—Religion of Oxford Methodists—The New Birth—Whitefield at Gloucester, etc.

May 1735 to June 1736.

Ten Months' Interval—How spent—Efforts to be useful—Books read—Stage Entertainments—Visiting a Prisoner—Letter to Wesley—Anxiety respecting Ministerial Office—A Dream—Rev. Thomas Cole—Bishop Benson—Sir John Philips—Preparing for Ordination—Ordained—Whitefield's Autobiography


A grand Day—First Sermon—Personal Appearance—Plain Speaking—Work at Oxford—First Visit to London—Letter to Wesley—Unknown Oxford Methodists—At Dummer—Resolves to go to Georgia—Letter to Charles Wesley


Whitefield's Popularity—Pious Clergymen—Dissenting Ministers—Abounding Wickedness—Dr. Isaac Watts—Infidelity—State of Dissenting Churches—National Impiety—Whitefield at Bristol—In London—At Stonehouse—Crowded Congregations—First Publication—New Birth—Rev. John Hutton—Preaching in London Churches—Opposition—Intercourse with Dissenters—First extempore Prayer—Picture taken—Marvellous commotion—Charity Schools—"Lecture Churches"—Charles Wesley—Poem on Whitefield—Weekly Miscellany—"The Oxford Methodists"—Whitefield and the Wesleys—Sermons published—The almost Christian—Terrific Preaching—Original Sin—Profane Swearing—First Farewell Sermon—Ignorant of Justification by Faith only—Preface to "Forms of Prayer"


Collections for Poor of Georgia—Whitefield's Cargo—Notable Day—Embarks for Georgia—At Gravesend—At Margate—At Deal—Wesley's return to England—Eternity of Hell's Torments—At Gibraltar—Publication of Journal—Sermon on Drunkenness—Incidents of the Voyage—Ill of Fever—Farewell Sermon on Shipboard—America—The Indians—Georgia—Carolina—Emigrants to Georgia—First Services at Savannah—Tomo Chici—Charles Delamotte—Schools opened—Work at Savannah—The Saltzburghers—Visit to Frederica—Dead Infidel—Departure from Savannah—Reasons for return to England—Storms at Sea—Pastoral Epistle—Lands in Ireland—Bishop Burscough—Archbishop Boulter—Arrives in England—At Manchester—The Wesley Brothers—Churches closed—Hostile Publications—Last Week of 1738

January to August, 1739.

Lovefeast at Fetter Lane—Conference at Islington—Ordained a Priest—Aristocratic Hearers—The Seward Family—Howell Harris—Scene at St. Margaret's, Westminster—Susannah Wesley on Whitefield—At Bath—At Bristol—The Poet Savage—Bristol Prison—Chancellor of Bristol Diocese—Letter to Bishop Butler—Religious Societies at Bristol—Begins Outdoor Preaching—First Visit to Wales—Interview with Howell Harris—Rev. Griffith Jones—Kingswood—Whitefield invites Wesley to Bristol—Kingswood School begun—Again in Wales—At Gloucester—Cheltenham—Benjamin Seward—Dean Kinchin—Vice-Chancellor of Oxford—[ix]At Islington—Dr. Trapp—Rev. Robert Seagrave—Outdoor Preaching in London—Newspaper Abuse—Contemporaneous Opinions of Whitefield—Reasons for Whitefield's Popularity—Joseph Humphreys—Joseph Periam—Itinerating—In London—Whitefield's Journals—Answer to Dr. Trapp—In Kent—Moravians—Scene in a Public House—Specimens of Preaching—The Wesleys become Outdoor Preachers—A Notable Sermon—Another Philippic—William Delamotte—William Seward—Letter to Wesley—Rev. Josiah Tucker—Dr. Skerret—Dr. Byrom—Ebenezer Blackwell—Constables and Magistrates—Whitefield and Wesley at Bristol—Letter to Bishop Benson—Quaker at Thornbury—Mayor of Basingstoke—A Friendly Quaker—Rev. Ralph Erskine—Last Sermons—Whitefield's Calvinism—Extracts from his Sermons—The Weekly Miscellany—The Craftsman—Rev. William Law and Dr. Warburton—Countess of Hertford—Pamphlets for and against Whitefield—Bishop Gibson's Pastoral Letter—Whitefield's Answer—Sermons Published—Extracts from them—Spiritual Pride—Catholic Spirit—Innocent Diversions—Self-righteousness—Entreaties—Whitefield's Oratory.

August 1739 to March 1741.

Whitefield asks Charles Wesley to be his Successor—Whitefield's Fellow-Voyagers—Letter to Ebenezer Blackwell—Extracts from other Letters—Letter to the Religious Societies—Arrival in America—Pennsylvania—Philadelphia—The Tennent Family—Whitefield at New York—Return to Philadelphia—Log College—Letter to Ralph Erskine—Gilbert Tennent—Scene in a Church—Leaving Philadelphia—Benjamin Franklin—Journey through Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas—Arrival at Savannah—The Orphan House—Stephens's Journal—Letters to Ralph Erskine and Gilbert Tennent—Letter to Slave-Owners—Plan of Orphan House—At Charleston—Commissary Garden—Oglethorpe snubs Whitefield—Letter to Wesley—Whitefield's Courtship—In Philadelphia—Franklin's Account of Whitefield—Great Work in Philadelphia—New Meeting House—Large Scheme—Letter to Ebenezer Blackwell—Itinerating—Many Adversaries—Moravian Settlement of Nazareth—William Seward—Enormous Labours—Marvellous Movements—Results in Philadelphia—Letter to William Seward—Missionary Advice—Calvinian Controversy—The Orphans Praying—Philip Henry Molther—Letters to Rev. G. Stonehouse, William Delamotte, and Wesley—Whitefield, practically, a Dissenter—Whitefield in Commissary Garden's Court—Whitefield out of Court—Reformation at Charleston—Election and Final Perseverance—Letter to Bishop of London—Rev. Nathaniel Clap—Boston—Labours in New England—"Washington's Elm"—Governor Belcher—Letter by Charles Wesley—[x]Sinless Perfection—William Delamotte—A Week's Work—Whitefield's Preaching in New England—Gilbert Tennent—Results in Boston—Visit to Jonathan Edwards—Whitefield on New England—"The Querists"—Letters—Whitefield and Wesley—Orphan-house Family—Jonathan Barber—The Savannah Club—Hugh Bryan—Whitefield before Magistrates—His influence in America—Hostile Publications—Nixon's Prophecy

March to July, 1741.

Letters—Wesley's Sermon on "Free Grace"—A Trying Time—Trouble at Kingswood—Letter to Wesley—First Methodist Newspaper—Old Friends divided—A Scene at the Foundery—Whitefield in Distress—Good News from America—Whitefield and Charles Wesley—Charles Wesley and the Calvinists—London Tabernacle—Rev. Daniel Rowlands—"Outward Enemies"—Help in Time of Need—Collections for Orphan House—Plan of action—Letter to Students

August to November, 1741.

Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine—"The Associate Presbytery"—The Sins of Scotland—The Erskines and the Methodists—Whitefield and the Erskines—Rupture with the Associate Presbytery—"A Warning," by Rev. Adam Gibb—"Act of the Associate Presbytery"—Aristocratic Friends—Letter to David Erskine—Tour in Scotland—Earl of Leven and Melville—Collections in Scotland—Strange Scene—Anecdotes—Religious Results in Scotland.

November 1741 to June, 1742.

Whitefield's Marriage—His Wife—Christian Perfection—Good News from America—Racy Letter—The Welsh Evangelists—The Orphan House—Wesley's Publications—Calvinistic Controversy—Success—Whitefield's Journals and Letters—Letter to Lady Mary Hamilton—Desire for Christian Union—Scenes in Moorfields—Charles Square, Hoxton—Rev. John Meriton—Man of one Busine





1714 TO 1732.

George Whitefield was born in the Bell Inn, Gloucester, on the 16th day of December (O.S.), 1714.

His genealogy, as given by his first biographer, Dr. Gillies, is brief, but not without interest:—

"The Rev. Mr. Samuel Whitefield, great-grandfather of George, was born at Wantage, and was rector of North Ledyard,[1] in Wiltshire. He removed afterwards to Rockhampton, in Gloucestershire. He had five daughters—two of whom were married to clergymen, Mr. Perkins and Mr. Lovingham; and two sons—Samuel, who succeeded his father in the cure of Rockhampton, and died without issue; and Andrew, who was a private gentleman, and lived retired upon his estate. Andrew had fourteen children, of whom Thomas was the eldest.

"Thomas was first bred to the employment of a wine-merchant in Bristol, but afterwards kept the Bell Inn, in the city of Gloucester. In Bristol he married Elizabeth Edwards, who was related to the Blackwells and the Dimours of that city; by whom he had six sons and one daughter.


"Elizabeth, the daughter, was twice reputably married at Bristol. John lies interred with the family in St. Mary de Crypt Church, in Gloucester. Joseph died an infant. Andrew settled in trade at Bristol, and died in the twenty-eighth year of his age. James was captain of a ship, and died suddenly at Bath. George was the youngest of the family, and, at his death, left two surviving brothers, Thomas and Richard.

"The father died in December, 1716, when George was only two years old. The mother continued a widow seven years, and was then married to Mr. Longden, an ironmonger in Gloucester, by whom she had no issue. She died in December, 1751, in the seventy-first year of her age."

So much for pedigree. Though Whitefield's ancestry was far from aristocratic, it was not ignoble.

Nothing is known of the years of Whitefield's boyhood, except what is furnished by himself. In the year 1740, he published an octavo pamphlet of seventy-six pages, entitled "A Short Account of God's Dealings with the Reverend Mr. George Whitefield, A.B., Late of Pembroke College, Oxford: from his Infancy to the Time of his entering into Holy Orders." This was written on board the Elizabeth, during his first voyage to America, and contains not a few unguarded and objectionable expressions—expressions which brought upon him the ridicule of his enemies, and which he himself afterwards regretted. In 1756, he "revised, corrected, and abridged" this imprudent publication; and, in the Preface, confessed that "many mistakes were rectified," and "many passages, that were justly exceptionable, erased."

In the present work, Whitefield, as far as possible, is made to be his own biographer; and though, perhaps, it is scarcely fair to print again what he himself erased, yet, as the sentences and paragraphs which he subsequently omitted were the occasion of many of the virulent attacks made upon him by his earliest opponents, these attacks cannot be properly understood without the text from which they had their origin.

Besides this, the publication in question is now extremely scarce. Not one in a thousand of Whitefield's admirers has ever seen it. It has never been re-published in its entirety since it was first issued, in the year 1740. It exhibits, not only Whitefield's honesty, but his weaknesses and faults, at the early age of twenty-five; and, without it, the reader cannot have a full and correct conception of[3] Whitefield's character at the commencement of his marvelous and illustrious career.

For such reasons, the pamphlet of 1740 is here given in its completeness, without abridgment and without revision. The words and passages, however, which he himself, in 1756, altered or erased, will be marked by being enclosed in brackets, or by notes.

Another remark must be added. What Whitefield says of his boyhood's wickedness must be received with caution. To exalt the grace of God in his conversion, he seemed desirous to magnify his own depravity and sin. Without intentional exaggeration, he, perhaps, makes himself worse than he really was. At all events, the following extract from his preface deserves attention:—

"In the accounts of good men which I have read, I have observed that the writers of them have been partial. They have given us the bright, but not the dark side of their character. This, I think, proceeded from a kind of pious fraud, lest mentioning persons' faults should encourage others in sin. It cannot, I am sure, proceed from the wisdom which cometh from above. The sacred writers give an account of their failings as well as their virtues. Peter is not ashamed to confess that, with oaths and curses, he thrice denied his Master; nor do the Evangelists make any scruple of telling us, that out of Mary Magdalene Jesus Christ cast seven devils.

"I have, therefore, endeavoured to follow their good example. I have simply told what I was by nature, as well as what I am by grace. I am not over cautious as to any supposed consequences, since none can be hurt by these but such as hold the truth in unrighteousness. To the pure all things will be pure.

"As I have often wished, when in my best frames, that the first years of my life might be put down as a blank, and had no more in remembrance, so I could almost wish now to pass them over in silence. But as they will, in some degree, illustrate God's dealings with me in my riper years, I shall, as I am able, give the following brief account of them."

After this exordium, which the reader will find useful in interpreting what follows, Whitefield proceeds with the first section of his autobiography.

"I was born in Gloucester, in the month of December, 1714. [My father and mother kept the Bell Inn. The former died when I was two years old; the latter is now alive, and has often told me how she endured fourteen weeks' sickness after she brought me into the world; but was[4] used to say, even when I was an infant, that she expected more comfort from me than any other of her children. This, with the circumstance of my being born in an inn, has been often of service to me in exciting my endeavours to make good my mother's expectations, and so follow the example of my dear Saviour, who was born in a manger belonging to an inn.

"My very infant years must necessarily not be mentioned; yet, I can remember such early stirrings of corruption in my heart, as abundantly convinces me that I was conceived and born in sin,—that in me dwelleth no good thing by nature, and that if God had not freely prevented me by His grace, I must have been for ever banished from His presence.]

"I can truly say, I was froward from my mother's womb. I was so brutish as to hate instruction, and used purposely to shun all opportunities of receiving it. I can date some very early acts of uncleanness. [I soon gave pregnant proofs of an impudent temper.] Lying, filthy talking, and foolish jesting I was much addicted to [even when very young]. Sometimes I used to curse, if not swear. Stealing from my mother I thought no theft at all, and used to make no scruple of taking money out of her pocket before she was up. I have frequently betrayed my trust, and have more than once spent money I took in the house, in buying fruits, tarts, etc., to satisfy my sensual appetite. Numbers of Sabbaths have I broken, and generally used to behave myself very irreverently in God's sanctuary. Much money have I spent in plays, and in the common entertainments of the age. Cards and reading romances were my heart's delight. Often have I joined with others in playing roguish tricks, but was generally, if not always, happily detected. For this, I have often since, and do now, bless and praise God.

"It would be endless to recount the sins and offences of my younger days. They are more in number than the hairs of my head. My heart would fail me at the remembrance of them, was I not assured that my Redeemer liveth, ever to make intercession for me. However the young man in the Gospel might boast how he had kept the commandments from his youth, with shame and confusion of face I confess that I have broken them all from my youth. Whatever foreseen fitness for salvation others may talk of and glory in, I disclaim any such thing. If I trace myself from my cradle to my manhood, I can see nothing in me but a fitness to be damned. [I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not.] If the Almighty had not prevented me by His grace, and wrought most powerfully upon my soul, quickening me by His free Spirit when dead in trespasses and sins, I had now been either sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death, or condemned, as the due reward of my crimes, to be for ever lifting up my eyes in torments.

"But such was the free grace of God to me, that though corruption worked so strongly in my soul, and produced such early and bitter fruits, yet I can recollect very early movings of the blessed Spirit upon my heart, sufficient to satisfy me that God loved me with an everlasting love, and separated me even from my mother's womb for the work to which He afterwards was pleased to call me.


"I had some early convictions of sin; and once, I remember, when some persons, as they frequently did, made it their business to tease me, I immediately retired to my room, and kneeling down, with many tears, prayed over that psalm wherein David so often repeats these words—'But in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.' I was always fond of being a clergyman, and used frequently to imitate the ministers reading prayers, etc. Part of the money I used to steal from my parent I gave to the poor, and some books I privately took from others, for which I have since restored fourfold, I remember were books of devotion.

"My mother was very careful of my education, and always kept me in my tender years [for which I never can sufficiently thank her] from intermeddling in the least with the public business.

"About the tenth year of my age, it pleased God to permit my mother to marry a second time. It proved what the world would call an unhappy match as for temporals, but God overruled it for good. [It set my brethren upon thinking more than otherwise they would have done, and made an uncommon impression upon my own heart in particular.]

"When I was about twelve, I was placed at a school called St. Mary de Crypt, in Gloucester—the last grammar school I ever went to. Having a good elocution and memory, I was remarked for making speeches before the Corporation, at their annual visitation.[2] But I cannot say I felt any drawings of God upon my soul for a year or two, saving that I laid out some of the money that was given me, on one of those forementioned occasions, in buying Ken's 'Manual for Winchester Scholars'—a book that had much affected me when my brother used to read it in my mother's troubles, and which, for some time after I bought it, was of great benefit to my soul.

"During the time of my being at school, I was very fond of reading plays, and have kept from school for days together to prepare myself for acting them. My master, seeing how mine and my schoolfellows' vein ran, composed something of this kind for us himself, and caused[6] me to dress myself in girl's clothes, which I had often done, to act a part before the Corporation. The remembrance of this has often covered me with confusion of face, and I hope will do so, even to the end of my life.

["And I cannot but here observe, with much concern of mind, how this way of training up youth has a natural tendency to debauch the mind, to raise ill passions, and to stuff the memory with things as contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as light to darkness, heaven to hell. However, though the first thing I had to repent of was my education in general, yet I must always acknowledge my particular thanks are due to my master, for the great pains he took with me and his other scholars, in teaching us to speak and write correctly.]

"Before I was fifteen, having, as I thought, made a sufficient progress in the classics, and, at the bottom, longing to be set at liberty from the confinement of a school, I one day told my mother, 'Since her circumstances would not permit her to give me an University education, more learning I thought would spoil me for a tradesman; and, therefore, I judged it best not to learn Latin any longer.' She at first refused to consent, but my corruptions soon got the better of her good nature. Hereupon, for some time, I went to learn to write only. But my mother's circumstances being much on the decline, and being tractable that way, I from time to time began to assist her occasionally in the public-house, till at length I put on my blue apron and my snuffers,[3] washed mops, cleaned rooms, and, in one word, became professed and common drawer for nigh a year and a half.

"[But He who was with David when he was following the sheep big with young, was with me even here. For] notwithstanding I was thus employed in a common inn, and had sometimes the care of the whole house upon my hands, yet I composed two or three sermons, and dedicated one of them in particular to my elder brother. One time, I remember, I was much pressed to self-examination, and found myself very unwilling to look into my heart. Frequently I read the Bible when sitting up at night. Seeing the boys go by to school has often cut me to the heart. And a dear youth, now with God, would often come entreating me, when serving at the bar, to go to Oxford. My general answer was, 'I wish I could.'

"After I had continued about a year in this servile employment, my mother was obliged to leave the inn. My brother, who had been bred up for the business, married; whereupon all was made over to him; and, I being accustomed to the house, it was agreed that I should continue there as an assistant. [But God's thoughts were not as our thoughts.

"By His good Providence] it happened that my sister-in-law and I could by no means agree; [and at length the resentment grew to such an height, that my proud heart would scarce suffer me to speak to her for three weeks together. But notwithstanding I was much to blame, yet I used to retire and weep before the Lord, as Hagar when flying from her[7] mistress Sarah—little thinking that God by this means was forcing me out of the public business, and calling me from drawing wine for drunkards, to draw water out of the wells of salvation for the refreshment of His spiritual Israel.]

"After continuing for a long while under this burden of mind, I at length resolved, thinking my absence would make all things easy, to go away. Accordingly, by the advice of my brother and consent of my mother, I went to see my elder brother, then settled at Bristol.

"Here God was pleased to give me great foretastes of His love,[4] and fill me with such unspeakable raptures, particularly once in St. John's Church, that I was carried out beyond myself. I felt great hungerings and thirstings after the blessed Sacrament, and wrote many letters to my mother, telling her I would never go into the public employment again. Thomas Kempis was my great delight, and I was always impatient till the bell rang to call me to tread the courts of the Lord's house. But in the midst of these illuminations, something surely whispered, 'This will not last.'

"And, indeed, so it happened. For—oh that I could write it in tears of blood!—when I left Bristol, as I did in about two months, and returned to Gloucester, I changed my devotion with my place. Alas! all my fervour went off: I had no inclination to go to church, or draw nigh unto God. In short, my heart, though I had so lately tasted of His love, was far from Him.

"However, I had so much religion left, as to persist in my resolution not to live in the inn; and therefore my mother gave me leave, though she had but a little income, to have a bed upon the ground, and live at her house, till Providence should point out a place for me.

"Having now, as I thought, nothing to do, it was a proper season for Satan to tempt me. Much of my time I spent in reading plays, and in sauntering from place to place. I was careful to adorn my body, but took little pains to deck and beautify my soul. Evil communications with my old schoolfellows soon corrupted my good manners. By seeing their evil practices, the sense of the Divine presence[5] I had vouchsafed unto me insensibly wore off my mind, and I at length fell into abominable secret sin, the dismal effects of which I have felt, and groaned under ever since.

"[But God, whose gifts and callings are without repentance, would let nothing pluck me out of His hands, though I was continually doing despite to the Spirit of Grace. He saw me with pity and compassion, when lying in my blood. He passed by me; He said unto me, Live; and even gave me some foresight of His providing for me.

"One morning, as I was reading a play to my sister, said I, 'God intends something for me which we know not of. As I have been diligent in business, I believe many would gladly have me for an apprentice, but[8] every way seems to be barred up, so that I think God will provide for me some way or other that we cannot apprehend.'

"How I came to say these words I know not. God afterwards showed me they came from Him.] Having thus lived with my mother for some considerable time, a young student, who was once my schoolfellow, and then a servitor of Pembroke College, Oxford, came to pay my mother a visit. Amongst other conversation, he told her how he had discharged all college expenses that quarter, and received a penny. Upon that my mother immediately cried out, 'This will do for my son.' Then, turning to me, she said, 'Will you go to Oxford, George?' I replied, 'With all my heart.' Whereupon, having the same friends that this young student had, my mother, without delay, waited on them. They promised their interest to get me a servitor's place in the same college. She then applied to my old master, who much approved of my coming to school again.

"In about a week I went and re-entered myself, [and being grown much in stature, my master addressed me thus: 'I see, George, you are advanced in stature, but your better part must needs have gone backwards.' This made me blush. He set me something to translate into Latin; and though I had made no application to my classics for so long a time, yet I had but one inconsiderable fault in my exercises. This, I believe, somewhat surprised my master then, and has afforded me matter of thanks and praise ever since.

"Being re-settled at school, I spared no pains to go forward in my book.] God was pleased to give me His blessing, and I learned much faster than I did before. But all this while I continued in [secret] sin; and, at length, got acquainted with such a set of debauched, abandoned, atheistical youths, that if God, by His free, unmerited, and especial grace, had not delivered me out of their hands, I should long since have sat in the scorner's chair [and made a mock at sin]. By keeping company with them, my thoughts of religion grew more and more like theirs. I went to public service only to make sport and walk about. I took pleasure in their lewd conversation. I began to reason as they did [and to ask why God had given me passions, and not permitted me to gratify them? Not considering that God did not originally give us these corrupt passions, and that He had promised help to withstand them, if we would ask it of Him. In short, I soon made a great proficiency in the school of the devil. I affected to look rakish], and was in a fair way of being as infamous as the worst of them.

"But, oh stupendous love! God even here stopped me, when running on in a full career to hell. For, just as I was upon the brink of ruin, He gave me such a distaste of their principles and practices, that I discovered them to my master, who soon put a stop to their proceedings.

"Being thus delivered out of the snare of the devil, I began to be more and more serious, and felt God, at different times, working powerfully and convincingly upon my soul. One day in particular, as I was coming downstairs, and overheard my friends speaking well of me, God so deeply convinced me of hypocrisy, that, though I had formed frequent but ineffectual[9] resolutions before, yet I had then power given me over my secret and darling sin. Notwithstanding, some time after being overtaken in liquor, as I have been twice or thrice in my lifetime, Satan gained his usual advantage over me again,—an experimental proof to my poor soul, how that wicked one makes use of men as machines, working them up to just what he pleases [when by intemperance they have chased away the Spirit of God from them].

"Being now near the seventeenth year of my age, I was resolved to prepare myself for the holy sacrament, which I received on Christmas Day. I began now to be more and more watchful over my thoughts, words, and actions. I kept the following Lent, fasting Wednesday and Friday, thirty-six hours together. My evenings, when I had done waiting upon my mother, were generally spent in acts of devotion, reading 'Drelincourt on Death,' and other practical books, and I constantly went to public worship twice a day. Being now upper-boy, by God's help, I made some reformation amongst my schoolfellows. I was very diligent in reading and learning the classics, and in studying my Greek Testament, but was not yet convinced of the absolute unlawfulness of playing at cards, and of reading and seeing plays, though I began to have some scruples about it.

"Near this time, I dreamed that I was to see God on Mount Sinai, but was afraid to meet Him. This made a great impression upon me; and a gentlewoman to whom I told it said, 'George, this is a call from God.'

["Still I grew more serious after this dream; but yet hypocrisy crept into every action. As once I affected to look more rakish, I now strove to appear more grave than I really was. However, an uncommon concern and alteration were visible in my behaviour, and I often used to find fault with the lightness of others.

"One night, as I was going on an errand for my mother, an unaccountable but very strong impression was made upon my heart that I should preach quickly. When I came home, I innocently told my mother what had befallen me; but she, like Joseph's parents when he told them his dream, turned short upon me, crying out, 'What does the boy mean? Pri'thee hold thy tongue,' or something to that purpose. God has since shown her from whom that impression came.]

"For a twelvemonth, I went on in a round of duties, receiving the sacrament monthly, fasting frequently, attending constantly on public worship, and praying often more than twice a day in private. One of my brothers used to tell me he feared this would not hold long, and that I should forget all when I came to Oxford. This caution did me much service, for it set me upon praying for perseverance; and, under God, the preparation I made in the country was a preservative against the manifold temptations which beset me at my first coming to that seat of learning.

"Being now near eighteen years old, it was judged proper for me to go to the University. God had [sweetly] prepared my way. The friends before applied to recommended me to the master of Pembroke College.[10] Another friend took up 10 upon bond, which I have since repaid, to defray the first expense of entering; and the master,[6] contrary to all expectations, admitted the servitor immediately."

Thus ends Whitefield's history of his own boyhood. His confession of youthful wickedness is more minute than profitable. It was scarcely wise for a young evangelist of twenty-five, who had attained an unexampled popularity, and thereby brought upon himself the rancour of envious observers, to print such an enumeration of juvenile sins and follies. Indeed, the wisdom of doing this may be justly questioned in any case. A man may and ought to confess to God; but he is under no obligation to confess to men like himself. As already stated, the foregoing details would not have been reproduced in the present work, had it not been that this was necessary to exhibit the imprudent ingenuousness of the youthful preacher, and to show that his own unguarded writings fairly exposed him to some of the bitter pamphleteering with which he was soon attacked. Augustine had written similar Confessions, and so also had Jean Jacques Rousseau; but the world is none the better because Augustine and Rousseau made the world their father confessor. Whitefield's enemies were not slow to use the advantage against him with which he had furnished them; and, even nine years after the publication of his pamphlet, he had to pay a penalty for some of its well-meant, but inconsiderate expressions. "Mr.[11] Whitefield's account of God's dealings with him," said Dr. Lavington, Bishop of Exeter, "is such a boyish, ludicrous, filthy, nasty, and shameless relation of himself, as quite defiles paper, and is shocking to decency and modesty. 'Tis a perfect jakes of uncleanness."[7] The reader, with the "account" unabridged before him, can easily form an opinion of the truthfulness, or rather free-tongued censure, of Whitefield's episcopal castigator. Whitefield assigned a reason for what he did; and, though the sufficiency of that reason may not be admitted, yet all will give Whitefield credit for sincerity and good intentions, and no spiritually minded man will laugh at the penitential spirit which the confessions unquestionably evince.

As in the case of many others, Whitefield's boyhood was a strange admixture of sin and penitence. At intervals, we find the boy a liar, a petty thief, a pretended rake, a dandy, and almost an infidel; and then we find him spending his scantily collected pence in buying the manual of Bishop Ken; composing sermons; delighting in Thomas Kempis; reading books like Drelincourt's "Christian Defence against the Fears of Death;" promoting a reformation of manners among the boys in the school of St. Mary de Crypt; religiously watching over his own thoughts, words, and actions; praying in private; worshipping in public; receiving the sacrament once a month; and, during Lent and at other times, frequently fasting for eighteen hours together. The Oxford Methodists, of whom perhaps he had never heard, were now approaching the very climax of their ascetic practices; and the quondam tapster of the Bell Inn, Gloucester, by a strange experience, was prepared to join them. Bad companions had nearly ruined him; but now his companions were to be of another sort.

In the midst of all his wickedness and youthful frolics, Whitefield displayed an undauntedness which helped to make him what he afterwards became. His educational advantages were not great. Unlike the Wesleys, his home was not favourable to his mental improvement. The public-house in which he was born and bred was widely different[12] from the Epworth parsonage. Practically he was fatherless whilst the Wesley brothers had for a father a man who, though sometimes improvident in attending convocations and in the publishing of books, had, in learning, but few superiors, and, as a clergyman of the Church of England, was excelled by none. Whitefield's mother was, evidently, an affectionate, sensible, and worthy woman; but, in most respects, immeasurably inferior to Susannah Wesley. Besides having had the unspeakable advantages of their Epworth home-education, John Wesley was privileged to spend five years and a half at the Charterhouse, London; and his brother Charles about the same length of time in the equally famed school of Westminster. On the other hand, Whitefield had no education, worth mentioning, until he was twelve years old; from twelve to fifteen he spent in the school of St. Mary de Crypt, partly in acquiring learning and partly in acting plays; from fifteen to seventeen, he was chiefly employed as tapster in his mother's tavern; and then came the turning-point of his existence. After listening to the story of the poor servitor of Pembroke College, who, by serving others, had paid all his college expenses, and had saved a penny, Whitefield's mother said, "George, will you go to Oxford?" "Yes," said George, "with all my heart." And, within a week, he was again at the school of St. Mary de Crypt; and, within a year, an undergraduate of an Oxford college. George's decision, prompt action, and hard-working ambition displayed pluck, not unworthy of the man, who, in later years, braved brutal mobs with heroic boldness, and who, when the present comforts of oceanic travelling were things unthought about, again and again crossed the turbulent Atlantic; and, constrained by the love of Christ his Saviour, tramped American woods and swamps, seeking sinners, and trying to save them.

One other fact is noticeable. From childhood George Whitefield was an orator. A hundred and fifty years ago dramatic performances appear to have been an important part of the education of the public schools of England. Thus it was in the Westminster School, where Charles Wesley was "put forward to act dramas," because of his lively cleverness; and thus it was at St. Mary de Crypt,[13] Gloucester, where Whitefield, on account of his "good elocution and memory," was "remarked for making speeches before the Corporation at their annual visitation;" and where the master of the school composed dramatical pieces in which Whitefield and his schoolfellows might display their histrionic genius and powers. The marvellously exciting eloquence of Whitefield was not so much an acquirement as a gift of nature; and this helps to explain his inordinate delight in theatrical literature, previous to his conversion.



1732 TO 1735.

Whitefield went to Oxford towards the end of the year 1732. Twelve years before this, Wesley had been admitted to Christ-Church College, and in the interval had been elected Fellow of Lincoln College, had taken his Master of Arts degree, and had been ordained deacon and also priest. Charles Wesley had been six years at Christ-Church, and was now Bachelor of Arts, and a College Tutor. Willam Morgan, one of the first of the Oxford Methodists, died a few weeks before Whitefield entered Pembroke College. For three years past, Clayton had been at Brasenose. Ingham had already spent two years at Queen's. In 1726, Gambold had been admitted as servitor in Christ Church, and in 1733 was ordained by Bishop Potter. Hervey, born in the same year as Whitefield, had, in 1731, become undergraduate in Lincoln College, where Wesley was Tutor. Broughton was in Exeter College. Kinchin was a Fellow of Corpus Christi. For twelve years, Hutchins had been Fellow of Lincoln, where also, for some time past, Whitelamb and Westley Hall had been studying, to the content of Wesley.

These were the chief of the Oxford Methodists. Whitefield, a boy not yet eighteen years of age, was the last to enter the University, and the last of the illustrious ones to join their godly brotherhood. For three years, the "Holy Club" had been notorious among their fellows; but, up to the present, Whitefield had never seen them.

Pembroke College, founded in 1624, had a Master, fourteen Fellows, twenty-four Scholars, and several Exhibitioners, being in all about sixty. As already stated, Whitefield was admitted as a servitor,—a lowly, but not necessarily dishonourable[15] position. Half a century before, Wesley's father had "footed it" to Oxford, with forty-five shillings in his purse, and had been received as servitor of Exeter College, in which, during his five years' residence, five shillings was the only assistance he received from his family and friends. And now Wesley's great coadjutor entered Pembroke in the same capacity, and in about the same penniless condition.

It is a fact worth noticing, that Samuel Johnson left Pembroke College only twelve months previous to Whitefield's admission; and that the poet Shenstone entered at the same time Whitefield did. At that period, some of the college tutors were so inefficient, that Johnson declared, concerning one of them, Mr. Jorden, that "he scarcely knew a noun from an adverb." The Rev. Dr. Adams, however, who succeeded Jorden in 1731, was a man of another stamp; and Johnson used to boast of the many eminent men who had been educated at Pembroke. "Sir," he used to say, with a smile of sportive triumph, when mentioning how many of the English poets had been trained in Pembroke College, "Sir, we are a nest of singing birds."[8]

Whitefield spent four years at Oxford—from 1732 to 1736. How did he employ his time, and what were the results? For the reasons previously assigned, the history of this important period shall be given in his own language, without any abridgment or alteration whatever. With perfect artlessness, he writes as follows:—

"Soon after my admission to Pembroke College, I found my having been used to a public-house was now of service to me. For many of the servitors being sick at my first coming up, by my diligent and ready attendance I ingratiated myself into the gentlemen's favour so far, that many, who had it in their power, chose me to be their servitor.

"This much lessened my expense; and, indeed, God was so gracious, that, with the profits of my place, and some little presents made me by my kind tutor, for almost the first three years I did not put all my relations together to above 24 expense.[9] [And it has often grieved my soul to see so many young students spending their substance in extravagant living, and hereby entirely unfitting themselves for the prosecution of their proper[16] studies.] I had not been long at the University before I found the benefit of the foundation I had laid in the country for a holy[10] life. I was quickly solicited to join in their excess of riot with several who lay in the same room. God, in answer to prayers before put up, gave me grace to withstand them; and once, in particular, it being cold, my limbs were so benumbed by sitting alone in my study, because I would not go amongst them, that I could scarce sleep all night. But I soon found the benefit of not yielding; for when they perceived they could not prevail, they let me alone as a singular, odd fellow.

["All this while I was not fully satisfied of the sin of playing at cards and reading plays, till God, upon a fast-day, was pleased to convince me. For, taking a play to read a passage out of it to a friend, God struck my heart with such power, that I was obliged to lay it down again; and—blessed be His name!—I have not read any such book since.

"Before I went to the University, I met with Mr. Law's 'Serious Call to a Devout Life,' but had not then money to purchase it. Soon after my coming up to the University, seeing a small edition of it in a friend's hand, I soon procured it. God worked powerfully upon my soul, as He has since upon many others, by that and his other excellent treatise upon 'Christian Perfection.']

"I now began to pray and sing psalms thrice every day, besides morning and evening, and to fast every Friday, and to receive the sacrament at a parish church near our college, and at the castle, where the despised Methodists used to receive once a month.

"The young men so called[11] were then much talked of at Oxford. I had heard of, and loved them before I came to the University; and so strenuously defended them when I heard them reviled by the students, that they began to think that I also in time should be one of them.

"For above a twelvemonth my soul longed to be acquainted with some of them, and I was strongly pressed to follow their good example, when I saw them go through a ridiculing crowd to receive the holy Eucharist at St. Mary's. At length, God was pleased to open a door. It happened that a poor woman in one of the workhouses had attempted to cut her throat, but was happily prevented. Upon hearing of this, and knowing that both the Mr. Wesleys were ready to every good work, I sent a poor aged apple-woman of our college to inform Mr. Charles Wesley of it, charging her not to discover who sent her. She went; but, contrary to my orders, told my name. He having heard of my coming to the castle and a parish church sacrament, and having met me frequently walking by myself, followed the woman when she was gone away, and sent an invitation to me by her, to come to breakfast with him the next morning.

"I thankfully embraced the opportunity; [and, blessed be God! it was one of the most profitable visits I ever made in my life. My soul, at that time, was athirst for some spiritual friends to lift up my hands when they hung down, and to strengthen my feeble knees. He soon discovered[17] it, and, like a wise winner of souls, made all his discourses tend that way. And, when he had] put into my hand Professor Frank's treatise against the 'Fear of Man,' [and a book entitled 'The Country Parson's Advice to his Parishioners,' the last of which was wonderfully blessed to my soul, I took my leave.]

"In a short time, he let me have another book entitled, 'The Life of God in the Soul of Man; [and, though I had fasted, watched, and prayed, and received the sacrament so long, yet I never knew what true religion was, till God sent me that excellent treatise by the hands of my never-to-be-forgotten friend].

"At my first reading it, I wondered what the author meant by saying, 'That some falsely placed religion in going to church, doing hurt to no one, being constant in the duties of the closet, and now and then reaching out their hands to give alms to their poor neighbours.' 'Alas!' thought I, 'if this be not religion, what is?' God soon showed me; for in reading a few lines further, that 'true religion was a union of the soul with God, and Christ formed within us,' a ray of Divine light was instantaneously darted in upon my soul, and, from that moment, but not till then, did I know that I must be a new creature.

"Upon this, [like the woman of Samaria when Christ revealed Himself to her at the well,] I had no rest [in my soul] till I wrote letters to my relations, telling them there was such a thing as the new birth. I imagined they would have gladly received it. But, alas! my words seemed to them as idle tales. They thought that I was going beside myself, and, by their letters, confirmed me in the resolutions I had taken not to go down into the country, but continue where I was, lest that, by any means, the good work which God had begun in my soul might be made of none effect.[12]

"From time to time Mr. Wesley permitted[13] me to come unto him, and instructed me as I was able to bear it. By degrees, he introduced me to the rest of his Christian brethren.[14] [They built me up daily in the knowledge and fear of God, and taught me to endure hardness like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.]

"I now began, like them, to live by rule, and to pick up the very fragments of my time, that not a moment of it might be lost. Whether I ate or drank, or whatsoever I did, I endeavoured to do all to the glory of God. Like them, having no weekly sacrament, although the rubric required it, at our own college, I received every Sunday at Christ Church. I joined with them in [keeping the stations by] fasting Wednesdays and Fridays [and left no means unused, which I thought would lead me nearer to Jesus Christ.

"Regular retirement, morning and evening, at first I found some difficulty in submitting to; but it soon grew profitable and delightful. As I grew ripe for such exercises, I was, from time to time] engaged to visit[18] the sick and the prisoners, and to read to poor people, till I made it a custom, as most of us did, to spend an hour every day in doing acts of charity.

"The course of my studies I soon entirely changed. Whereas, before I was busied in studying the dry sciences, and books that went no farther than the surface, I now resolved to read only such as entered into the heart of religion, and which led me directly into an experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. [The lively oracles of God were my soul's delight. The book of the Divine laws was seldom out of my hands: I meditated therein day and night; and, ever since that, God has made my way signally prosperous, and given me abundant success.

"God enabled me to do much good to many, as well as to receive much from the despised Methodists, and made me instrumental in converting one who is lately come out into the Church, and, I trust, will prove a burning and shining light.

"Several short fits of illness was God pleased to visit and to try me with, after my first acquaintance with Mr. Wesley. My new convert was a helpmeet for me in those and in all other circumstances; and, in company with him and several other Christian friends, did I spend many sweet and delightful hours. Never did persons, I believe, strive more earnestly to enter in at the strait gate. They kept their bodies under even to an extreme. They were dead to the world, and willing to be accounted as the dung and offscouring of all things, so that they might win Christ. Their hearts glowed with the love of God, and they never prospered so much in the inward man, as when they had all manner of evil spoken against them falsely without.

"Many came amongst them for a while, who, in time of temptation, fell away. The displeasure of a tutor or head of a college, the changing of a gown from a lower to a higher degree—above all, a thirst for the praise of men, more than that which cometh from God, and a servile fear of contempt—caused numbers, that had set their hands to the plough, shamefully to look back. The world, and not themselves, gave them the title of Methodists, I suppose, from their custom of regulating their time, and planning the business of the day every morning. Mr. John and Charles Wesley were two of the first that thus openly dared to confess Christ; and they, under God, were the spiritual fathers of most of them. They had the pleasure of seeing the work of the Lord prosper in their hands before they went to Georgia. Since their return, the small grain of mustard-seed has sprung up apace. It has taken deep root. It is growing into a great tree. Ere long, I trust, it will fill the land, and numbers of souls will come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and lodge under the branches of it.

"But to return. While I was thus comforted on every side by daily conversing with so many Christian friends, God was pleased to permit Satan to sift me like wheat. A general account of which I shall, by the Divine assistance, give in the following section.

"At my first setting out, in compassion to my weakness, I grew in[19] favour both with God and man, and used to be much lifted up with sensible devotion, especially at the blessed sacrament. But when religion began to take root in my heart, and I was fully convinced my soul must totally be renewed ere it could see God, I was visited with outward and inward trials.]

"The first thing I was called to give up for God was what the world calls my fair reputation. I had no sooner received the sacrament publicly on a weekday at St. Mary's, but I was set up as a mark for all the polite students that knew me to shoot at. [By this they knew that I was commenced Methodist; for though there is a sacrament at the beginning of every term, at which all, especially the seniors, are by statute obliged to be present, yet so dreadfully has that once faithful city played the harlot, that very few masters, and no undergraduates but the Methodists, attended upon it.

"Mr. Charles Wesley, whom I must always mention with the greatest deference and respect, walked with me, in order to confirm me, from the church even to the college. I confess, to my shame, I would gladly have excused him; and the next day, going to his room, one of our Fellows passing by, I was ashamed to be seen to knock at his door. But, blessed be God! this fear of man gradually wore off. As I had imitated Nicodemus in his cowardice, so, by the Divine assistance, I followed him in his courage. I confessed the Methodists more and more publicly every day. I walked openly with them, and chose rather to bear contempt with those people of God, than to enjoy the applause of almost-Christians for a season.]

"Soon after this, I incurred the displeasure of the master of the college, who frequently chid, and once threatened to expel me, if I ever visited the poor again. Being surprised by this treatment,[15] I spake unadvisedly with my lips, and said, if it displeased him, I would not. My conscience soon pricked me for this sinful compliance. I immediately repented, and visited the poor the first opportunity, [and told my companions, if ever I was called to a stake for Christ's sake, I would serve my tongue as Archbishop Cranmer served his hand, namely, make that burn first.]

"My[16] tutor, being a worthy man, did not oppose me [much, but thought, I believe, that I went a little too far. He lent me books, gave me money, visited me, and furnished me with a physician when sick. In short, he behaved in all respects like a father; and I trust God will remember him for good, in answer to the many prayers I have put up in his behalf.

"My relations were quickly alarmed at the alteration of my behaviour, conceived strong prejudices against me, and for some time counted my life madness.] I daily underwent some contempt at college. Some have thrown dirt at me; others by degrees took away their pay from me; and two friends that were dear unto me grew shy of and forsook me, [when they saw me resolved to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and follow Jesus Christ. But our Lord, by His Spirit, soon convinced me that I must[20] know no one after the flesh; and I soon found that promise literally fulfilled, 'That no one hath left father or mother, brethren or sisters, houses or lands, for Christ's sake and the Gospel's, but he shall receive a hundredfold in this life, with persecution, as well as eternal life in the world to come.'

"These, though little, were useful trials. They inured me to contempt, lessened self-love, and taught me to die daily.] My inward sufferings were of a more uncommon nature. [Satan seemed to have desired me in particular to sift me as wheat. God permitted him for wise reasons, I have seen already, namely, that His future blessings might not prove my ruin.

"From my first awakenings to the divine life, I felt a particular hungering and thirsting after the humility of Jesus Christ. Night and day I prayed to be a partaker of that grace, imagining that the habit of humility would be instantaneously infused into my soul. But as Gideon taught the men of Succoth with thorns, so God, if I am yet in any measure blessed with true poverty of spirit, taught it me by the exercise of strong temptations.

"I observed before how I used to be favoured with sensible devotion; those] comforts were soon withdrawn, and a horrible fearfulness and dread permitted to overwhelm my soul. [One morning in particular, rising from my bed, I felt an unusual impression and weight upon my breast, attended with inward darkness. I applied to my friend, Mr. Charles Wesley. He advised me to keep upon my watch, and referred me to a chapter in Kempis. In a short time I perceived this load gradually increase, till it almost weighed me down, and fully convinced me that Satan had as real a possession of, and power given over, my body, as he had once over Job's.] All power of meditating, or even thinking, was taken from me. My memory quite failed me. My whole soul was barren and dry, and I could fancy myself to be like nothing so much as a man locked up in iron armour. Whenever I kneeled down, I felt great[17] heavings in my body, and have often prayed under the weight of them till the sweat came through me. [At this time, Satan used to terrify me much, and threatened to punish me if I discovered his wiles. It being my duty, as servitor, in my turn to knock at the gentlemen's rooms by ten at night, to see who were in their rooms, I thought the devil would appear to me every stair I went up. And he so troubled me when I lay down to rest, that for some weeks I scarce slept above three hours at a time.]

"God only knows how many nights I have lain upon my bed groaning under the weight I felt, [and bidding Satan depart from me in the name of Jesus.] Whole days and weeks have I spent in lying prostrate on the ground,[18] [and begging for freedom from those proud hellish thoughts that used to crowd in upon and distract my soul. But God made Satan drive out Satan; for these thoughts and suggestions created such a self-abhorrence[21] within me, that I never ceased wrestling with God till He blessed me with a victory over them. Self-love, self-will, pride, and envy so buffeted me in their turns, that I was resolved either to die or conquer. I wanted to see sin as it was, but feared, at the same time, lest the sight of it should terrify me to death.

"Whilst my inward man was thus exercised, my outward man was not unemployed. I soon found what a slave I had been to my sensual appetite, and now resolved to get the mastery over it by the help of Jesus Christ.] Accordingly, by degrees, I began to leave off eating fruits and such like, and gave the money I usually spent in that way to the poor. Afterward, I always chose the worst sort of food, though my place furnished me with variety. I fasted twice a week. My apparel was mean. I thought it unbecoming a penitent to have his hair powdered. I wore woollen gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes;[19] and [though I was then convinced that the kingdom of God did not consist in meats and drinks, yet I resolutely persisted in these voluntary acts of self-denial, because I found them great promoters of the spiritual life.]

"For many months, I went on in this[20] state, [faint, yet pursuing, and travelling along in the dark, in hope that the star I had before once seen would hereafter appear again. During this season I was very active;] but finding pride creeping in at the end of almost every thought, word, and action, and meeting with Castaniza's 'Spiritual Combat,' in which he says 'that he that is employed in mortifying his will was as well employed as though he was converting Indians,' or words to that effect, Satan so imposed upon my understanding, that he persuaded me to shut myself up in my study till I could do good[21] [with a single eye], lest, in endeavouring to save others as I did now, I should at last, by pride and self-complacence, lose myself.

["Henceforward, he transformed himself into an angel of light, and worked so artfully, that I imagined the good, and not the evil, spirit suggested to me everything I did.

"His main drift was to lead me into a state of quietism (he generally ploughed with God's heifer); and when the Holy Spirit put into my heart good thoughts or convictions, he always drove them to extremes. For instance, having out of pride put down in my diary what I gave away, Satan tempted me to lay my diary quite aside. When Castaniza[22] advised to talk but little, Satan said I must not talk at all. So that I, who used to be the most forward in exhorting my companions, have sat whole nights almost without speaking at all. Again, when Castaniza advised to endeavour after a silent recollection and waiting upon God, Satan told me[22] I must leave off all forms, and not use my voice in prayer at all. The time would fail me to recount all the instances of this kind in which he had deceived me. But when matters came to an extreme, God always showed me my error, and by His Spirit pointed out a way for me to escape.

"The devil also sadly imposed upon me in the matter of my college exercises. Whenever I endeavoured to compose my theme, I had no power to write a word, nor so much as to tell my Christian friends of my inability to do it. Saturday being come, which is the day the students give up their compositions, it was suggested to me that I must go down into the hall, and confess I could not make a theme, and so publicly suffer, as if it were, for my Master's sake. When the bell rung to call us, I went to open the door to go down stairs, but feeling something give me a violent inward check, I entered my study, and continued instant in prayer, waiting the event. For this my tutor fined me half a crown. The next week Satan served me in like manner again; but now having got more strength, and perceiving no inward check, I went into the hall. My name being called, I stood up and told my tutor I could not make a theme. I think he fined me a second time; but, imagining that I would not willingly neglect my exercise, he afterward called me into the common room, and kindly enquired whether any misfortune had befallen me, or what was the reason I could not make a theme. I burst into tears, and assured him that it was not out of contempt of authority, but that I could not act otherwise. Then, at length, he said he believed I could not; and, when he left me, told a friend, as he very well might, that he took me to be really mad. This friend, hearing from my tutor what had happened, came to me, urging the command of Scripture, to be subject to the higher powers. I answered, 'Yes; but I had a new revelation.' Lord, what is man?

"As I daily got strength, by continued, though almost silent, prayer in my study, my temptations grew stronger also, particularly for two or three days before deliverance came.]

"Near five or six weeks I had now spent in my study, except when[23] I was obliged to go out. During this time I was fighting with my corruptions, and did little else besides kneeling down by my bedside, feeling, as it were, a heavy pressure upon my body, as well as an unspeakable oppression of mind, yet offering up my soul to God to do with me as it pleased Him. It was now suggested to me that Jesus Christ was among the wild beasts when He was tempted, and that I ought to follow His example; and being willing, as I thought, to imitate Jesus Christ, after supper I went into Christ Church walk, near our college, and continued in silent prayer under one of the trees [for near two hours, sometimes lying flat on my face, sometimes] kneeling upon my knees, [all the while filled with fear and concern lest some of my brethren should be overwhelmed with pride. The night being stormy, it gave me awful thoughts of the day of judgment. I continued, I think,] till the great bell rung for retirement to[23] the college, not without finding some reluctance in the natural man against staying so long in the cold.

["The next night I repeated the same exercise at the same place. But the hour of extremity being now come, God was pleased to make an open show of those diabolical devices by which I had been deceived.]

"By this time, I had left off keeping my diary, using my forms, or scarce my voice in prayer, visiting prisoners, etc. Nothing remained for me to leave, unless I forsook public worship, but my religious friends. Now it was suggested that I must leave them also for Christ's sake. This was a sore trial; but rather than not be, as I fancied, Christ's disciple, I resolved to renounce them, though as dear to me as my own soul. Accordingly, the next day being Wednesday, whereon we kept one of our weekly fasts, instead of meeting with my brethren as usual, I went out into the fields, and prayed silently by myself. Our evening meeting I neglected also, and went not to breakfast, according to appointment, with Mr. Charles Wesley the day following. This, with many other concurring circumstances, made my honoured friend, Mr. Charles Wesley, suspect something more than ordinary was the matter. He came to my room, [soon found out my case,] apprised me of my danger if I would not take advice, and recommended me to his brother John, Fellow of Lincoln College, as more experienced[24] [in the spiritual life]. God gave me—[blessed be His holy name]—a teachable temper, and I waited upon his brother, with whom from that time I had the honour of growing intimate. He advised me to resume all my externals, though not to depend on them in the least. From time to time he gave me directions as my [various and] pitiable state required; [and, at length, by his excellent advice and management of me, under God, I was delivered from those wiles of Satan. 'Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise His holy name!']

["During this and all other seasons of temptation my soul was inwardly supported with great courage and resolution from above. Every day God made me willing to renew the combat, and though my soul, when quite empty of God, was very prone to seek satisfaction in the creature, and sometimes I fell into sensuality, yet I was generally enabled to wait in silence for the salvation of God, or to persist in prayer till some beams of spiritual light and comfort were vouchsafed me from on high. Thomas Kempis, since translated and published by Mr. John Wesley; Castaniza's Combat; and the Greek Testament, every reading of which I endeavoured to turn into a prayer, were of great help and furtherance to me. On receiving the holy sacrament, especially before trials, I have found grace in a very affecting manner, and in abundant measure, sometimes imparted to my soul,—an irrefragable proof to me of the miserable delusion of the author of that work called, 'The Plain Account of the Sacrament,' which sinks that holy ordinance into a bare memorial, who, if he obstinately refuse the instruction of the Most High, will doubtless, without repentance, bear his punishment, whosoever he be.]


"To proceed—I had now taken up my externals again;[25] [and though Satan for some weeks had been biting my heel, God was pleased to show me that I should soon bruise his head.] A few days after, as I was walking along, I met with a poor woman whose husband was then in [Bocardo, or] Oxford Town-Gaol, [which I constantly visited.] Seeing her much discomposed, I enquired the cause. She told me, not being able to bear the crying of her children, ready to perish for hunger, and having nothing to relieve them, she had been to drown herself, but was mercifully prevented, and said she was coming to my room to inform me of it. I gave her some immediate relief, and desired her to meet me at the prison with her husband in the afternoon. She came, and there God visited them both by His free grace. She was powerfully quickened from above; and when I had done reading, he also came to me like the trembling gaoler, and, grasping my hand, cried out, 'I am upon the brink of hell!'. From this time forward, both of them grew in grace. God, by His providence, soon delivered him from his confinement. Though notorious offenders against God and one another before, yet now they became helpmeets for each other in the great work of their salvation. They are both now living, and, I trust, will be my joy and crown of rejoicing in the great day of our Lord Jesus.

"Soon after this, [the holy season of] Lent came on, which our friends kept very strictly, eating no flesh during the six weeks, except on Saturdays and Sundays. I abstained frequently on Saturdays also, and ate nothing on the other days, except on Sunday, but sage-tea without sugar, and coarse bread. I constantly walked out in the cold mornings till part of one of my hands was quite black. This, with my continued abstinence and inward conflicts, at length so emaciated my body, that, at Passion-week, finding I could scarce creep upstairs, I was obliged to inform my kind tutor of my condition, who immediately sent for a physician to me.

"This caused no small triumph amongst the collegians, who began to cry out, 'What is his fasting come to now?' [But I rejoiced in this reproach, knowing that, though I had been imprudent, and lost much of my flesh, yet, I had nevertheless increased in the spirit.]

["This fit of sickness continued upon me for seven weeks, and a glorious visitation it was.[26] The blessed Spirit was all this time purifying my soul. All my former gross and notorious, and even my heart sins also, were now set home upon me, of which I wrote down some remembrance immediately, and confessed them before God morning and evening. Though weak, I often spent two hours in my evening retirements, and prayed over my Greek Testament and Bishop Hall's most excellent 'Contemplations' every hour that my health would permit.] About the end of the seven weeks,[27] [and after I had been groaning under an unspeakable[25] pressure both of body and mind for above a twelvemonth, God was pleased to set me free in the following manner. One day, perceiving an uncommon drought and a disagreeable clamminess in my mouth, and using things to allay my thirst, but in vain, it was suggested to me that when Jesus Christ cried out, 'I thirst,' His sufferings were near at an end. Upon which I cast myself down on the bed, crying out, 'I thirst! I thirst!' Soon after this, I found and felt in myself that I was delivered from the burden that had so heavily oppressed me. The spirit of mourning was taken from me, and I knew what it was truly to rejoice in God my Saviour, and, for some time, could not avoid singing psalms wherever I was; but my joy gradually became more settled, and, blessed be God, has abode and increased in my soul, saving a few casual intermissions, ever since.

"Thus were the days of my mourning ended. After a long night of desertion and temptation, the star, which I had seen at a distance before, began to appear again, and the day star arose in my heart. Now did the Spirit of God take possession of my soul, and, as I humbly hope, seal me unto the day of redemption."]

Here we must pause. Whitefield evidently considered this to be the time of his conversion. The date was about seven weeks after Easter, in the year 1735. This was three years before the Wesley brothers professed to receive the same blessing. In fact, young Whitefield seems to have been the first of the Oxford Methodists who attained to the experience expressed in Romans viii. 15, 16: "Ye have not received the Spirit of bondage, again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." It cannot be denied that Whitefield's first account of the way in which he obtained this gift of God is tinged with fanaticism. The[26] second and revised account, published sixteen years afterwards, is unobjectionable. Oppressed with a sense of sin, and buffeted by Satan, the young servitor laid hold of Christ "by a living faith," received "the spirit of adoption," was blessed with "a sense of the pardoning love of God," and filled with "joy unspeakable" and "big with glory."

Whitefield's history of his college life, especially the first edition of it, brought upon him the scathing criticisms of both friends and foes. The recital of his diabolical buffetings is more minute than sensible, and was sure to excite the sarcastic laughter of men like Lavington. The taciturnity which came over him is neither to be desired nor commended. His religious jargon, partly bracketed and partly otherwise, is not "good to the use of edifying." The lengthy descriptions of his fastings, prayers, and devotions have a somewhat pharisaic tinge. But, notwithstanding all these animadversions, this section of Whitefield's autobiography is useful and important. Throughout, it exhibits the spirit, the principles, and the practices of the Oxford Methodists. It shows that college life at Oxford was profligately wicked, and that men like the Oxford Methodists were greatly needed. It reveals the significant and momentous fact that the work of God was not confined to the Oxford University, for, in his way, young Whitefield was intensely religious before he left his home at Gloucester. The omnipresent Spirit was preparing men for a great work in different places—not only in Oxford and Gloucester, but, as will be seen hereafter, in various parts of the United Kingdom, and even across the Atlantic.

"When I was sixteen years of age," said Whitefield, a few months before he died, "I began to fast twice a week for thirty-six hours together, prayed many times a day, received the sacrament every Sabbath, fasted myself almost to death all the forty days of Lent, during which I made it a point of duty never to go less than three times a day to public worship, besides seven times a day to my private prayers; yet I knew no more that I was to be born a new creature in Christ Jesus, than if I had never been born at all. I had a mind to be upon the stage, but then I had a qualm of conscience. I used to ask people, 'Pray can I be a player, and yet go to sacrament, and be a Christian?' 'O,' said they, 'such a one, who is a player, goes to sacrament; though, according to the law of the land, no player should receive the sacrament unless he gives proof that he repents; that was Archbishop Tillotson's doctrine.' 'Well then,' said I, 'if that be[27] the case, I will be a player;' and I thought to act my part for the devil as well as anybody. But, blessed be God, He stopped me in my career. I must bear testimony to my old friend, Mr. Charles Wesley. He put a book into my hands, called 'The Life of God in the Soul of Man,' whereby God showed me that I must be born again or be damned. I know the place; it may perhaps be superstitious, but, whenever I go to Oxford, I cannot help running to the spot where Jesus Christ first revealed Himself to me, and gave me the new birth. I learned that a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament, and yet not be a Christian. How did my heart rise and shudder like a poor man that is afraid to look into his ledger, lest he should find himself a bankrupt. 'Shall I burn this book? Shall I throw it down? Or shall I search it?' I did search it; and, holding the book in my hand, thus addressed the God of heaven and earth: 'Lord, if I am not a Christian, for Jesus Christ's sake show me what Christianity is, that I may not be damned at last.' I read a little further, and discovered that they who know anything of religion know it is a vital union with the Son of God—Christ formed in the heart. O what a ray of Divine life did then break in upon my soul! I fell a writing to all my brethren and to my sisters. I talked to the students as they came into my room. I laid aside all trifling conversation. I put all trifling books away, and was determined to study to be a saint, and then to be a scholar. From that moment God has been carrying on His blessed work in my soul. I am now fifty-five years of age, and shall leave you in a few days; but I tell you, my brethren, I am more and more convinced that this is the truth of God, and that without it you can never be saved by Jesus Christ."[28]

Nothing more need be said on the subject of Whitefield's conversion. The reader now has Whitefield's own testimonies at three different periods of his life. The accounts might have been clearer, more precise, and perhaps more scripturally expressed; but the fact is patent: Whitefield was converted—regenerated—born again—in the year 1735. Or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, it was in 1735, that, through a penitent, heartfelt trust in Christ, he received "the Spirit of adoption," God sending "forth the Spirit of His Son into his heart, crying, Abba, Father."

For five years, Whitefield had been a sincere and earnest penitent. Like all the other Oxford Methodists, he sought salvation, not by simple, heartfelt faith in Christ, but by self-denial, ardent piety, and the practice of good works. No wonder that he was destitute of the joy arising from a firm[28] and full assurance of acceptance with God. The man relying on his own piety and beneficence must necessarily live a joyless, anxious, and almost miserable life; because he knows and feels that much in his past career has been absolutely wicked; and because, however sincere his present piety, and however commendable his good works, he knows that, at the best, they are exceedingly imperfect, and, so far from meriting the Divine favour, and atoning for the iniquities of other days, actually need the forgiveness of a long-suffering God. No man of this description can be happy. But it is far otherwise with the penitent, who, while diligently using all the means of grace, and to the utmost of his power endeavouring to serve both God and man, obeys Scripture teaching by firmly believing that the death of Christ was a full atonement for his sins, even his, and by trusting solely and exclusively in that astounding but scripturally revealed fact for acceptance with God, both in this world and in that which is to come. Let a man attain to such a faith as this, or rather let him be blessed with such a blessing (for faith is a Divine gift as well as a human act), and he cannot fail to be filled, as Whitefield was, with "joy unspeakable and full of glory." Even his love to God, also, becomes what it had never been before, inasmuch as he now, in the death of Christ, sees God's love manifested to himself as it is manifested nowhere else. Love kindles love, and the man serves his Maker, not merely because it is his duty, but because he cannot help it, love making his duty his delight. With such a belief concerning the death of Christ, and such a trust in it, his faith in God, in Providence, in the blessed Bible as a whole, is of necessity higher, holier, stronger, broader, firmer than it ever could be without such a belief and trust; and the same may also be said respecting hope, and all the other Divine gifts and Christian virtues possessed and exercised by the genuinely converted man.

It was not until the year 1735 that Whitefield attained to such a state as this; and three more years elapsed before his friends and religious preceptors, John and Charles Wesley, were brought to the same self-renunciating crisis, and were enabled by the Holy Spirit to trust simply and solely in the blood of Christ for personal, present, and endless salvation.


From this point in their history, all the three were "new creatures in Christ Jesus." This will be seen hereafter; but, before proceeding further, it may be instructive and profitable to look at them again in their transition period. Pietists more sincere and earnest never lived; and yet none of them were happy. They were ready to do and almost to suffer anything and everything that would be conducive to the Divine honour; and yet they were in doubt and darkness respecting their being blessed with the Divine favour. The reason of this perplexed them. To others it is obvious. The language of St. Paul concerning the Jews may, with perfect propriety, be applied to the Oxford Methodists: "I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."

The following extracts from letters, written by Whitefield during the twelve months immediately preceding his conversion, will not only help to elucidate his character, but will also confirm what has just been said respecting the principles, and piety, and personal experience of the Oxford Methodists at this important period of their history.

On the death of a young friend, Whitefield wrote:—

"Oxon, July 18, 1734. I envy him his blessed condition. He, unquestionably, is divinely blessed, whilst we are still left behind to wrestle with unruly passions, and, by a continued looking unto Jesus and running in our Christian race, to press forward to that high prize of which he, dear youth, is now in full fruition."

"Bristol, September 10, 1734. You tell me Mr. P. wants to know my quality, state, condition, and circumstances. Alas! that any one should enquire after such a wretch as I am. However, since he has been so kind, pray tell him that, as for my quality, I was a poor, mean drawer, but, by the distinguishing grace of God, am now intended for the ministry; as for my estate, that I am a servitor; and as to my condition and circumstances, that I have not of my own anywhere to lay my head, but my friends, by God's providence, minister daily to me; and, in return for such unmerited, unspeakable blessings, I trust the same good Being will give me grace to dedicate myself without reserve to His service."

"Oxon, September 17, 1734. We must make a great progress in religion, to be inured, by frequent prayer and meditation, to the ecstatic[30] contemplation of heavenly objects, before we can arrive at true heavenly-mindedness; and perhaps, after all our endeavours, whilst our souls are immersed in these fleshly tabernacles, we shall make but very small advances in so delightful and glorious an undertaking. But believe me, sir, you cannot imagine how vastly serviceable the constant use of all the means of religion will be in acquiring this blessed habit of mind: such as an early rising in the morning, public and private prayer, a due temperance in all things, and frequent meditation on the infinite love and purity of that unparalleled pattern of all perfection, our dear Redeemer. As for your mentioning the degeneracy of the age as an objection against our making further advances in any religious improvement, I cannot by any means admit of it. The Scriptures are to be the only rules of action, and the examples of our blessed Lord and His Apostles the grand patterns whereby we are to form the conduct of our lives. It is true, indeed, that instances of exalted piety are rarely to be met with in the present age, and if we were to take an estimate of religion from the lives of most of its professors, one would think that Christianity was nothing but a dead letter. But then it is not our religion, but ourselves that are to be blamed for this. Would we live as the primitive Christians did, we might, no doubt, have the same assistance vouchsafed us as they had. God's grace is never restrained. And though we should not arrive at those heights of heavenly-mindedness, for which some of the primitive Christians were eminent, yet we should imitate them as far as we can, and rely on the Divine goodness for grants of such a supply of grace as He, in His good pleasure, shall judge most convenient for us. Be pleased to send for Mr. Law's 'Christian Perfection' for me against my coming into the country, if printed in a small edition."

"Oxon, December 4, 1734. I am heartily glad that 'The Country Parson'[29] has had so good an effect upon you. The 'Prayers' I hope to send you next week. Only let me give you this caution, not to depend upon any advice or book that is given you, but solely on the grace of God attending it. The book which I have sent to my brother, and would recommend to you and all my Gloucester friends, will soon convince you how dangerous it is to be a lukewarm Christian, and that there is nothing to be done without breaking from the world, denying ourselves daily, taking up our cross, and following Jesus Christ. These things may seem a little terrible at first; but, believe me, mortification itself, when once practised, is the greatest pleasure in the world."

"Oxon, February 20, 1735. I am surprised that you should have desired that 'Collection of Prayers,'[30] and be wholly unconcerned about them ever after. Indeed, they will be of no service to you, unless you grant me this one postulatum: 'that we must renounce ourselves.' What the meaning of this phrase may be, the preface to the Prayers will best inform[31] you. I did not doubt of its meeting with but a cold reception, it being at first view so very contrary to flesh and blood. For, perhaps, you may think that this renouncing of ourselves must necessarily lead us (as it certainly does) to acts of self-denial and mortification; and that we probably may be saved without them. And lest you should after all imagine that true religion consists in anything besides an entire renewal of our nature into the image of God, I have sent you a book entitled 'The Life of God in the Soul of Man,' which will inform you what true religion is, and by what means you may attain it; as, likewise, how wretchedly most people err in their sentiments about it, who suppose it to be nothing else but a mere model of outward performances, without ever considering that all our corrupt passions must be subdued, and a complex habit of virtues, such as meekness, lowliness, faith, hope, and the love of God and of man, be implanted in their room, before we can have the least title to enter into the kingdom of God; our Divine Master having expressly told us that 'unless we renounce ourselves, and take up our cross daily, we cannot be His disciples.' I shall be glad to hear whether you keep up morning prayers, and how often you receive the Holy Communion, there being nothing which so much be-dwarfs us in religion as starving our souls by keeping away from the heavenly banquet."

"Oxon, March 6, 1735. I find, by what I can gather from your own and my brother's expressions, that my late letters have met with but a cold reception, and that you seem desirous of hearing no more of so seemingly ungrateful a subject as submitting our wills to the will of God, which is all that is implied in the phrase of renouncing ourselves. Alas, sir! what is there that appears so monstrously terrible in a doctrine that is the constant subject of our prayers, whenever we put up the petition, 'Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven;' the import of which seems to be this: 1. That we do everything that God wills, and nothing but what He wills; 2. That we do everything He wills, only in the manner He wills; 3. That we do those things He wills, only because He wills. This is all I have been endeavouring to inculcate in my late letters. Dear sir, be not dismayed. The difficulty lies only in our first setting out. Be but vigorous at the first onset, and never fear a conquest. The renewal of our nature is a work of great importance. It is not to be done in a day; we have not only a new house to build up, but an old one to pull down. The means which are necessary to be used in order to attain this end, our cursed adversary the devil would represent to us in the most hideous forms imaginable; but, believe me, sir, there is really more pleasure in these formidable duties of self-denial and mortification, than in the highest indulgences of the greatest epicure upon earth."

These are fair specimens of Whitefield's letters at this period of his history. He and the other Oxford Methodists were profoundly sincere and earnest; but they were legalists, trying to save themselves, instead of seeking to be saved by Christ. Their aim was to subdue their "corrupt[32] passions," and to produce within themselves the virtues of "meekness, lowliness, faith, hope, and the love of God and man." The means used to accomplish this aim were public and private worship, "acts of self-denial and mortification," and the practice of good works. There is not a word in Whitefield's letters respecting justification by faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Divine Redeemer; and not a word respecting the great fact that it is the sole work of the Holy Spirit to subdue and destroy the "corrupt passions" of the sinner, and to plant within him "the mind which was in Christ Jesus." The men were morose ascetics rather than happy Christians.

Henceforward, the tone of Whitefield's letters is different. The new birth becomes a constant topic. The man, hitherto so gloomy and taciturn, is jubilant. His doleful and long-continued miserere is exchanged for songs of praise and thanksgiving. Hence the following, written immediately after his conversion:—

"Bristol, June 12, 1735. Were not your sighs on Sunday last some infant strugglings after the new birth? Surely they were; and I trust ere long the Holy Ghost will replenish your heart with comfort and peace. Methinks I would willingly undergo the pangs, so you might enjoy the pleasures, of the new birth; but this must not be. All we can do is to sympathise with and pray for each other."

"Bristol, September 5, 1735. I hope to feast with you at Crypt[31] next Sunday. Amazing, that ever sinners should sit with their Saviour! To what dignity has Christ exalted human nature! If Mr. Pauncefort's petitions for me ran after this manner, I should be thankful: 'That God would finish the good which He has begun in me; that I may never seek nor be fond of worldly preferment, but employ those talents it shall please God to entrust me with, to His glory and the Church's good; and likewise that the endeavours of my friends to revive true religion in the world may meet with proper success."

Thus, as early as June 12, 1735, Whitefield began to write concerning "the pangs and the pleasures of the new birth." How was it that he was not the means of leading the Wesley brothers into the enjoyment of the same Divine blessing? A sufficient answer to this is found in the fact that Whitefield was now absent from Oxford, that four[33] months afterwards Wesley and his brother set sail for America, and that a long space of time elapsed before the three friends were again united.

Whitefield needed rest. He had kept nine terms at Oxford, and had not availed himself of a single vacation. Perhaps for want of money, he had not left Oxford since the time he entered it. His health, however, was now so seriously affected, that recreation became imperative. Accordingly, about the end of the month of May, he, for the first time, left the University, and returned to his friends at Gloucester. One of his earliest letters, written during his rustication, was addressed to his friend Wesley, and is too full of interesting gossip to be omitted. It will also fitly close the present chapter of Whitefield's history.

"Gloucester, June 11, 1735.

"Rev. Sir,—I should have taken the freedom of writing to you ere now, had I imagined you were returned to Oxford, or had my affairs been in any settled way; but really, sir, I have been so tossed up and down by variety of company and temptations, that I scarcely have had time to do anything.

"I suppose my dear friends have acquainted you with the occasion of my leaving Oxford in so abrupt a manner; and Mr. Hutchin's letter has sufficiently informed you how I was received at Gloucester.

"I have been a week at Bristol, and if any poor soul deserved your pious prayers, surely mine did; for it is impossible to tell you the dangers to which I was there exposed. But when we are weak, then are we strong. The Lord was my support, and I escaped the hands of the enemy. I had no great opportunities offered me at Bristol of promoting God's glory, any further than by shewing a good example. For, alas! all my relations seem to me in a sad tepid state; but I doubt not God will, one day or another, open their hearts to receive the word of truth.

"My poor mother seems very desirous of withdrawing from the world, and, I trust, will soon have the means put in her way to do it. My brother, the innkeeper, has had variety of misfortunes, but, I fear, they have not met with their intended effect. However, I hope, if I can get him to use prayer, he will soon grow better. The captain of the ship[32] seems to be in too great a hurry to attend to religion; but he has a desire for reading Mr. Law, which I hope will be sanctified to him.

"But though my relations are in this condition, I find my other friends are not. They all vastly solicit me to pay them visits, so that, in a short time, I trust we shall have a Religious Society. I have gotten three clergymen at Gloucester; all I hope capable of being worked upon.[34] I was also sent for by the gentleman's brother where I lodge, who is minister of Stonehouse,[33] in a very pressing manner; and I trust our meeting will be sanctified. My dear friend, who used to correspond with me at Oxford,[34] seems now to perceive some pangs of the new birth. His greatest struggle is to leave the world. I believe he will soon get over it. We have the whole house to ourselves. I find he has done what he could, and seems desirous of doing more. He earnestly desires your prayers. Last night, one Mr. Escott, a clergyman, came to see me, and we spent the evening in religious conversation, and hope ere long to have set nights for our meetings. Be pleased to advise me what I had best recommend for our reading. I was thinking to take Burkitt on the New Testament.

"The Scriptures are now my sole study; but I am in great want of your advice, sir, how to prosecute them, intending to read them as practicably as possible. What do you think of Patrick on the Proverbs? I trust God has opened a door for me, to be an instrument of propagating the Gospel at Swansea, in Wales. The particulars you shall hear hereafter. I want sadly some more religious books, and a set of your 'Prayers.' Be so good, sir, as to let me have them, with a letter, next coach.

"I have not time to write to my dear brethren as I would; but if Mr. Broughton, Mr. Salmon, etc., would send me a line, they cannot imagine what service they might do. If one of them would enlarge a little on the vanity of worldly pleasures, who knows how God may work by them? I have a great deal more to say, but must refer it to another opportunity. Give me leave, sir, only to send my due respects to all my brethren, and, with my earnest petition for their importunate prayers, to subscribe myself,

"Rev. Sir, your very humble servant,
"George Whitefield."[35]



May 1735 to June 1736.

Whitefield left Pembroke College, Oxford, at the end of May, 1735, and returned to it in the month of March, 1736. The history of this long interval shall be given in his own words, from the Autobiography first published in 1740, and revised and re-issued in 1756. He writes:

"As fast as I got strength after my sickness, my tutor, physician, and some others were still urging me to go into the country, hoping thereby to divert me, as they thought, from a too intense application to religion.[36] [I had for some time been aware of their design, and wrote letters beseeching my mother, if she valued my soul, not to lay her commands on me to come down. She was pleased to leave me to my choice; but,] finding at last it was necessary for my health, and many other providential circumstances pointing out my way, after earnest prayer for support, by the advice of my friends, I left my sweet retirement at Oxford, and went to Gloucester, the place of my nativity.

["Having now obtained mercy from God, and received the Spirit of adoption in my heart, my friends were surprised to see me look and behave so cheerfully, after the many reports they had heard concerning me. However, I soon found myself to be as a sheep sent forth amongst wolves in sheep's clothing; for they immediately endeavoured to dissuade me, as they had lately done a friend that began with me, from a constant use of the means of grace, especially from weekly abstinence, and receiving the blessed sacrament. But God enabled me to resist them steadfast in the faith; and, by keeping close to Him in His holy ordinances, I was made to triumph over all.

"Being unaccustomed for some time to live without spiritual companions, and finding none that would join heartily with me,—no, not one,—I watched unto prayer all the day long, beseeching God to raise me some religious associates in His own way and time.]


"'I will endeavour either to find or make a friend,' had been my resolution now for some time; and therefore,[37] after importunate prayer one day, I resolved to go to the house of one Mrs. W——, to whom I had formerly read Plays, Spectators, Pope's Homer, and such-like [trifling] books—hoping the alteration she would now find in my sentiments might, under God, influence her soul. [God was pleased to bless the visit with the desired effect.] She received the word gladly. [She wanted to be taught the way of God more perfectly,] and soon became a fool for Christ's sake. Not long after, God made me instrumental to awaken several[38] young persons, who soon formed themselves into a little Society, and had quickly the honour of being despised at Gloucester, as we had been before them at Oxford. Thus, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.

"My mind being now more open and enlarged, I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books, and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat indeed, and drink indeed, to my soul. I daily received fresh life, light, and power from above. [I got more true knowledge from reading the book of God in one month, than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men. In one word,] I found it profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, every way sufficient to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work.

"During my absence from Oxford I spent three weeks at Bristol, whither I went to see some relations, but could not do them much good, because of the prejudices they had conceived against me. However, I daily walked with God, and, going to visit[39] an aunt then in an almshouse there, God brought in my way a young woman who was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. She received the word into an honest and good heart, and since has proved a true follower of Jesus Christ. [So gracious was the Lord, even in these my very early days, not to leave Himself without witness, in that He thus vouchsafed to bless my poor endeavours in every place whereto His providence now sent me.]

"According to His abundant mercy, He also raised me up some temporal supplies. [For some considerable time, I had followed the example of Professor Frank, and, whenever I wanted any worldly assistance, pleaded the Scripture promises for the things of this life, as well as that which is to come, in the name of Jesus Christ. This is still my practice, and I never yet failed of success. When I came from Oxford, on account of my sickness and other extraordinary and unavoidable expenses, I owed, I think, about 12 or 13; and when I went to Bristol, I was so poor that I was obliged to borrow money of my kind hostess, Mrs. H——, with whom I lodged at Gloucester,—and whose husband and family I pray God eternally to bless,—to bear my charges on the road. This, I bless God, did not dishearten me; but I continued pleading the promises in the[37] name of Christ; and, soon after my coming to Bristol, I received an answer. For, a brother of mine coming from sea, God inclined him to give me four guineas and some other necessaries. And when I returned to Gloucester, as I did after I had continued a short time at Bristol,] those I expected should assist me did not; but persons I never spoke to, and who, I thought, were my enemies, were raised up to supply my wants, and[40] fulfil that promise which I always pleaded, 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.'

["Oh, what sweet communion had I daily vouchsafed with God in prayer after my coming again to Gloucester! How often have I been carried out beyond myself when sweetly meditating in the fields! How assuredly have I felt that Christ dwelt in me, and I in Him! and how did I daily walk in the comforts of the Holy Ghost, and was edified and refreshed in the multitude of peace! Not that I was always upon the mount; sometimes a cloud would overshadow me; but the Sun of righteousness quickly arose and dispelled it, and I knew it was Jesus Christ that revealed Himself to my soul.

"I always observed, as my inward strength increased, so my outward sphere of action increased proportionably.] In a short time, therefore, I began to read to some poor people twice or thrice a week. [I likewise visited two other little Societies besides my own; and almost every day, both then and since, have found the benefit of being tempted myself, because that alone taught me how to give proper advice to those that came to me when tempted.

"Occasionally, as business and opportunity permitted, I generally visited one or two sick persons every day; and though silver and gold I had little of my own, yet, in imitation of my Lord's disciples, who entreated in the behalf of the fainting multitude, I used to pray unto Him, and He, from time to time, inclined several that were rich in this world to give me money, so that I generally had a little stock for the poor always in my hand.] One of the poor whom I visited in this manner was called effectually by God as at the eleventh hour. She was a woman above threescore years old, and, I really believe, died in the true faith of Jesus Christ.

["About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace, and the necessity of being justified in His sight by faith only.[41] This was more extraordinary, because[38] my friends at Oxford had rather inclined to the mystic divinity; and one of them, a dear servant of the Lord, lately confessed he did not like me so well at Oxford as the rest of his brethren, because I held justification by faith only. And yet, he observed, I had most success. But, blessed be God! most of us have now been taught this doctrine of Christ, and, I hope, shall be willing to die in the defence of it. It is the good old doctrine of the Church of England. It is what the holy martyrs in Queen Mary's time sealed with their blood, and which I pray God, if need be, that I and my brethren may seal with ours.

"Burkitt's and Henry's Expositions were of admirable use to lead me into this and all other gospel truths. For many months have I been almost always upon my knees, to study and pray over these books. The Holy Spirit, from time to time, has led me into a knowledge of Divine things, and I have been directed, by watching and reading the Scripture in this manner, even in the minutest of circumstances, as plainly as the Jews were, when consulting the Urim and Thummim at the high priest's breast.

"Allein's 'Alarm,' Baxter's 'Call to the Unconverted,' and Janeway's 'Life,' which I read at leisure hours, much benefited me. I bless God, the partition wall of bigotry and sect-religion was soon broken down in my heart; for, as soon as the love of God was shed abroad in my soul, I loved all, of whatever denomination, that loved the Lord Jesus in sincerity of heart.

"During my stay here,] God enabled me to give a public testimony of my repentance as to seeing and acting plays. For, hearing the strollers were coming to town, and knowing what an egregious offender I had been,[42] [I wrestled with God in prayer to put me in a way to manifest my abhorrence of my former sin and folly. In answer to this, I was stirred up to extract][43] Mr. Law's excellent treatise, entitled 'The Absolute Unlawfulness of the Stage Entertainments.' [God gave me favour in the printer's sight; and, at my request, he put a little of it in the News][44] for six weeks successively, and God was pleased to give it His blessing.

["Having been absent for about six months from the University, I thought it time to think of returning thither; but, before I came to a resolution, was convinced of the contrary.

"At my first coming to Gloucester, being used to visit the prisoners at Oxford, I prayed most earnestly that God would open a door for me to visit the prisoners here also. Quickly after, I dreamed that one of the prisoners came to be instructed by me; and it was impressed much upon my heart. In the morning I went to the door of the county gaol. I knocked, but nobody came to open it. I thought the hour was not yet come. I waited still upon God in prayer, and in some months after came a letter from a friend at Oxford, desiring me to go to one Pebworth, who[39] was broken out of Oxford gaol, and was retaken at Gloucester.[45] As soon as I read this letter, it appeared to me that my prayer was now answered. Immediately I went to the prison, assuredly gathering that the Lord called me thither. I met with the person, and, finding him and some others[40] willing to hear the word of God, and having gained leave of the keeper and two ordinaries, I constantly read to and prayed with them every day I was in town. I also begged money for them, whereby I was enabled to release some of them, and cause provisions to be distributed weekly amongst them, as also to put such books into their hands as I judged most proper. I cannot say any one of the prisoners was effectually wrought upon; however, much evil was prevented, many were convinced, and my own soul was much edified and strengthened in the love of God and man.

"Thus employed, I continued in my own city three months longer—despised indeed by man, but highly blessed by the grace of God. My understanding was enlightened, my will broken, and my affections more and more enlivened with a zeal for Christ. Many such, I believe, were added to our little Society as shall be saved. Fresh supplies came from unexpected hands to defray my expenses at the University; and, at the end of nine months, I returned thither, to the natural joy and comfort of my friends, till I was called into holy orders—the particular circumstances of which I shall relate in the following section.

"From the time I first entered the University, especially from the time I knew what was true and undefiled Christianity, I entertained high thoughts of the importance of the ministerial office, and was not solicitous what place should be prepared for me, but how I should be prepared for a place.][46] That saying of the apostle, 'Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil;' and that first question of our excellent ordination office, 'Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and administration?' used even to make me tremble whenever I thought of entering into the ministry. [The shyness that Moses and some other prophets expressed, when God sent them out in a public capacity, I thought, was sufficient to teach me not to run till I was called. He who knoweth the hearts of men is witness that I never prayed more earnestly against anything than I did against entering into the service of the Church so soon. Oftentimes I have been in an agony of prayer, when under convictions of my insufficiency for so great a work.] With strong crying and tears, I have often said, 'Lord, I am a youth of uncircumcised lips! Lord, send me not into Thy vineyard yet!' [And sometimes I had reason to think God was angry with me for resisting His will. However, I was resolved to pray thus, as long as I could. If God did not grant my request by keeping me out of it, I knew His grace would be sufficient to support and strengthen me whenever He sent me into the ministry.]

"To my prayers I added my endeavours, and wrote letters to my friends at Oxford, beseeching them to pray to God to disappoint the designs of my country friends, who were for my taking orders as soon as possible. Their answer was, 'Pray we the Lord of the harvest to send thee and many more labourers into His harvest.' [Another old and worthy minister[41] of Christ,[47] when I wrote to him about the meaning of the word 'novice,' answered, it meant a novice in grace, not in years; and he was pleased to add, if St. Paul were then at Gloucester, he believed St. Paul would ordain me.] All this did not satisfy me. I still continued instant in prayer against going into holy orders, and was not thoroughly convinced it was the Divine will, till God, by His providence, brought me acquainted with the present Bishop of Gloucester.[48]

["Before I conversed with his lordship, God was pleased to give me previous notice of it. Long ere I had the least prospect of being called before the bishop, I dreamed, one night, I was talking with him in his palace, and that he gave me some gold, which seemed to sound again in my hand. Afterwards, this dream would often come into my mind; and whenever I saw the bishop at church, a strong persuasion would arise in my mind that I should very shortly go to him. I always checked it, and prayed to God to preserve me from ever desiring that honour which cometh of man. One afternoon it happened that the bishop took a solitary walk, as I was told afterwards, to Lady Selwyn's, near Gloucester, who, not long before, had made me a present of a piece of gold. She, I found, recommended me to the bishop]; and, a few days after,[49] as I was coming from the cathedral prayers [thinking of no such thing], one of the vergers called after me, and said the bishop desired to speak with me. I [forgetful at that time of my dream] immediately turned back,[50] considering within myself what I had done to deserve his lordship's displeasure.[51] When I came to the top of the palace stairs, the bishop took[42] me by the hand, told me he was glad to see me, and bid me wait a little till he had put off his habit, and he would return to me again. [This gave me an opportunity of praying to God for His assistance, and adoring Him for His providence over me.]

"At his coming [again] into the room, the bishop told me he had heard of my character, liked my behaviour at church, and, enquiring my age, said, 'Notwithstanding I have declared I would not ordain any one under three and twenty, yet I shall think it my duty to ordain you whenever you come for holy orders.' [He then made me a present of five guineas to buy me a book, which, sounding again in my hand, put me in mind of my dream; whereupon my heart was filled with a sense of God's love.]

"Before I came home, this news[52] had reached my friends; who, being fond of my having such a great man's favour, were very solicitous to know the event of my visit. Many things I hid from them; but, when they pressed me hard, I was obliged to tell them how the bishop, of his own accord, had offered to give me holy orders whenever I would; on which they, knowing how I had depended on the declaration his lordship had made some time ago, that he would ordain none under three and twenty, said,—and I began to think myself,—'That if I held out any longer I should fight against God.' At length, I came to a resolution, by God's leave, to offer myself for holy orders the next Ember days.

"The only thing now in dispute was into what part of my Lord's vineyard I should be sent to labour first. God had given me much success in Gloucester; and, my friends being desirous of having me near them, I had thoughts of settling among them. But, when I came to Oxford, my friends there urged several reasons for my continuing at the University. 'The Mr. Wesleys had not long gone abroad, and now no one was left to take care of the prison affairs,' etc. They further urged, 'That God had blessed my endeavours there, as well as at Gloucester; that the University was the fountain-head; that every gownsman's name was legion; and that if I should be made instrumental of converting one of them, it would be as much as converting a whole parish.' At the same time, unknown to me, some of them sent to that great and good man, the late Sir John Philips, who was a great encourager of the Oxford Methodists;[53] and, though he had never seen, but only heard of me, yet he sent word he[43] would allow me 30 a year, if I would continue at the University. Upon this, finding the care of the prisoners would be no more than, under God, I could undertake with pleasure, and knowing the University was the best place to prosecute my studies, I resolved, God willing, to wait at Oxford a blessing on the firstfruits of my ministerial labours.

"In the meanwhile, having before made some observations upon the thirty-nine Articles, and proved them by Scripture,[54] I strictly examined myself by the qualifications required for a minister in St. Paul's Epistle to Timothy, and also by every question that I knew was to be publicly put to me at the time of my ordination. This latter I drew out in writing at large, and sealed my approbation of it every Sunday at the blessed sacrament. At length, Trinity Sunday being near at hand, and having my testimonials from the college, I went, a fortnight beforehand, to Gloucester, intending to compose some sermons, and to give myself more particularly to prayer.

["But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts. When I came to Gloucester, notwithstanding I strove and prayed for several days, and had matter enough in my heart, yet I was so restrained that I could not compose anything at all. I mentioned my case to one clergyman. He said, 'I was an enthusiast.' I wrote to another who was experienced in the divine life. He gave me some reasons why God might deal with me in that manner, and withal promised me his prayers. I joined with him in importunate supplication to know whether this restraint was from God or not. At last, in reading Mr. Henry upon the Acts of the Apostles, this passage was much pressed upon my heart, 'We assayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered us not.' Looking a little farther, I found a quotation out of Ezekiel, wherein God said to that young prophet, just after He had given him a divine and public commission, 'Thou shalt be dumb; but when I speak unto thee, then thou shalt speak.' This made me quite easy. The remainder of the fortnight I spent in reading the several missions of the prophets and apostles, and wrestled with God to give me grace to follow their good examples.]

"About three days before the time appointed for ordination, the bishop came to town. The next evening, I sent his lordship an abstract of my private examination upon these two questions: 'Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office and administration?' And, 'Are you called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the laws of this realm?' The next morning, I waited on the bishop. He received me with much love, telling me 'he was glad I was come; that he was satisfied with the preparation I had made, and with the allowance given me by Sir John Philips. I had myself,' said he, 'made provision for you of two little parishes; but since you choose to be at Oxford, I am very well pleased. [I doubt not but you will do much good.'] Upon this, I took my leave, abashed with God's[44] goodness to such a wretch, but withal exceedingly rejoiced that, in every circumstance, He made my way into the ministry so very plain before my face.

"This, I think, was on Friday. The day following I continued in abstinence and prayer. In the evening, I retired to a hill near the town, and prayed fervently for about two hours, in behalf of myself and those that were to be ordained with me.

"On Sunday morning, I rose early, and prayed over St. Paul's Epistle to Timothy, and more particularly over that precept, 'Let no one despise thy youth.' [When I went up to the altar, I could think of nothing but Samuel's standing a little child before the Lord with a linen ephod.] When the bishop laid his hands upon my head,[55] [my heart was melted down, and] I offered up my whole spirit, soul, and body to the service of God's sanctuary. I read the Gospel, at the bishop's command, with power, and afterward sealed the good confession I had made before many witnesses, by partaking of the holy sacrament of our Lord's most blessed body and blood.

["Being restrained from writing, as was before observed, I could not preach in the afternoon, though much solicited thereto; but I read prayers to the poor prisoners, being willing to let the first act of my ministerial office be an act of charity.

"The next morning, waiting upon God in prayer to know what He would have me to do, these words, 'Speak out, Paul,' came with great power to my soul. Immediately my heart was enlarged. God spake to me by His Spirit, and I was no longer dumb. I finished a sermon I had in hand some time before. I began another; and preached the Sunday following to a very crowded audience, with as much freedom as though I had been a preacher for some years.

"Oh, the unspeakable benefit of reading to the poor, and exercising our talents while students at the University! Such previous acts are very proper to prepare us for the work of our Lord, and make us not unapt to teach in a more public manner. It is remarkable that our Lord sent out His Apostles on short missions before they were so solemnly authorized at the day of Pentecost. Would the Heads and Tutors of our Universities follow His example, and, instead of discouraging their pupils from doing anything of this nature, send them to visit the sick and prisoners, and to pray with, and read practical books of religion to the poor, they would find such exercises of more service to them, and to the Church of God, than all their private and public lectures put together.

"Thus God dealt with my soul. At the same time, by His gracious providence, He supplied me with all things needful for my body also. For He inclined the bishop's heart to give me five guineas more; and, by this time, a quarter's allowance was due to me from Sir John Philips; both which sums put together fully served to defray the expenses of my ordination, and of taking up my bachelor's degree, which was conferred on me at Oxford the week after my being ordained, when I was about one and twenty years of age.


"These changes from a servitor to a Bachelor of Arts—from a common drawer to a clergyman—were no doubt temptations to think more highly of myself than I ought to think; and some were therefore jealous over me, as I trust they always will be, with a godly jealousy. God, who is rich in mercy, thereby forewarned me of my danger, stirred up my heart to pray against spiritual pride, and kept me, as I hope He will to the end, in some measure always humbled before Him.

"Thus did God, by a variety of unseen acts of providence and grace, train me up for, and at length introduce me into, the service of His Church."]

Here ends all that is biographical in Whitefield's "Short Account of God's Dealings with him from his Infancy to the time of his entering into Holy Orders." The pamphlet concludes with an address to the reader, and with Addison's hymn, beginning—

"When all Thy mercies, O my God."

What ought to be said respecting this remarkable publication? At the time, it was pre-eminently remarkable, much more so than it would have been a hundred years afterwards. The world was not accustomed to such pious outpourings. It might have passed muster among Cromwell's Roundheads; and in the present age it would probably have died a silent death, no one either brandishing the scalping knife of the censorious critic, or dropping the tear of a loving lamenter upon its tomb. A hundred and thirty years ago the state of things was widely different to the circumstances now existing. Then religion was ridiculed rather than revered. Rare were the pious biographies committed to the press. It was almost—perhaps an absolutely—unheard-of thing for a man to publish his own religious experience. At all events, never before had a young clergyman of the Church of England, only twenty-five years of age, perpetrated an act like this. Bishops, priests, deacons, and literati of all descriptions were unpleasantly surprised; many were almost savagely indignant. Who was the piously pert neophyte writing in a strain like this? How should his publication be treated? Would it be best to be silently contemptuous? That was impossible; for the writer, though so young, had become one of the most notorious men in England. Would it be wise to review it out of existence by philosophical and sober disquisitions on its mysterious expressions, its general style, and its startling statements?[46] Nay, this would be infra dignitatem. The only way remaining was to treat the book with disdainful ridicule, and its youthful author with the sarcastic severity merited by a vain, conceited, bouncing enthusiast, whose religion had made him mad.

This was the kind of treatment young Whitefield had to meet. Did he deserve it? Answers to this question will be different, according to the standpoints occupied. The man of the world will say "Yes." The response of the educated, fastidious religionist will, perhaps, be to the same effect—quite as firm, though not so loud. Men who experience and practise the same religion Whitefield did, will yield a general approval, but object to particular statements and expressions.

This, substantially, was done by Whitefield himself, when, sixteen years afterwards, he published his revised edition. As already stated, in the preface of 1756, he distinctly declares that many mistakes have been rectified, and many passages, justly exceptionable, erased. In the foot notes, the reader has seen the rectifications; and, in the passages which are bracketed, he has seen the erasures. There can be no question that the sentences and paragraphs omitted were faults. Whitefield was simple-minded, humble, and ingenuous; but, in order to magnify the grace of God, he sometimes furnished the censorious critic with an opportunity to pronounce him vain, conceited, self-glorious, proud of prayer and piety. Such a judgment, however, would be unjust. Whitefield's autobiography has many faults; but they are mental rather than moral,—the faults of defective training, inexperience, youthfulness, and impulsive ardour,—rather than of self-conceit and pride. No man knew Whitefield better than Wesley did, and no man had a wider acquaintance with human character; and yet Wesley, in advanced life, perfectly exonerated Whitefield from charges like the fore-mentioned, and declared, in reference to the very statements contained in the book now in question, that, "For their artless and unaffected simplicity, they may vie with any writings of the kind."[56]




Sunday, June 20, 1736, was a grand day to Whitefield. In the imposing old cathedral, founded by Osric, "sub-regulus" of Ethelred, King of Mercia—an edifice in which Robert of Gloucester, author of the rhyming "Chronicle of England," had been a monk; and John Hooper, the immortal martyr, had been Gloucester's first Protestant prelate—stood a youth, who, five years before, had been a common tapster in an adjoining public-house. For three years and a half, by acting as a servitor, he had almost entirely maintained himself in Pembroke College, Oxford. His progress in learning had been such that he was soon to be a Bachelor of Arts. By the unsolicited and exceptional favour of Bishop Benson, at the early age of a little more than twenty-one, he now presented himself for admission into holy orders. Notwithstanding his wickedness as a child, and his fondness for "playing roguish tricks," he had always wished to be a clergyman, and had, many a time, amused himself and the companions of his boyhood by imitating ministers reading prayers. In his eighteenth year, before he went to Oxford, he had told his mother that he meant, ere long, to be a preacher; and had been rebuked for his arrogance by the good woman asking what he meant, and telling him to hold his tongue. But now the fond mother was, probably, present, in the fine old church, to witness the consummation of her George's wish—her heart filled to overflowing with honest pride and pious gratitude. And there, in all likelihood, was Gabriel Harris, one of Whitefield's earliest friends; and Robert Raikes, the manager[48] and printer of the Gloucester Journal, one of Whitefield's warm admirers, and the reputed founder of Sunday schools; and also not a few of Whitefield's young companions, with whom, in days not long since past, he had acted theatricals, for the amusement of the mayor and aldermen of the city, and of the head master of St. Mary de Crypt's pleasure-loving school. The hour was a solemn one for the young candidate, but it was also full of joy. He writes:—

"Gloucester, June 20, 1736.

"This is a day much to be remembered; for, about noon, I was solemnly admitted by good Bishop Benson, before many witnesses, into holy orders. I endeavoured to behave with unaffected devotion. I trust I answered every question from the bottom of my heart. I hope the good of souls will be my only principle of action. Let come what will—life or death—I shall henceforwards live like one who this day, in the presence of men and angels, took the holy sacrament upon the profession of being inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon me that ministration in the Church. This I began with reading prayers to the prisoners in the county gaol. Whether I myself shall ever have the honour of styling myself a prisoner of the Lord, I know not; but indeed, my dear friend, I can call heaven and earth to witness that, when the bishop laid his hand upon me, I gave myself up to be a martyr for Him, who hung upon the cross for me. Known unto Him are all future events and contingencies. I have thrown myself blindfold, and I trust without reserve, into His almighty hands."

In such a spirit Whitefield entered upon his life-long work. He coveted the ministry, and yet he seemed to dread it. He was eager for the fight, but he trembled at being sent before his Master called him. In one of the last sermons that he preached in England, on August 30, 1769, he told the crowd, in his London tabernacle, "I never prayed against any corruption I had in my life, so much as I did against going into holy orders. I have prayed a thousand times till the sweat has dropped from my face like rain, that God, of His infinite mercy, would not let me enter the Church before He called me. I remember once in Gloucester—I know the room—I look up at the window when I am there and walk along the street—I know the bedside, and the floor upon which I prostrated myself, and cried, 'Lord, I cannot go. I shall be puffed up with[49] pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. I am unfit to preach in Thy great name. Send me not, Lord, send me not yet.'"[57] No wonder that God honoured the ministry of such a man. He sought no earthly emoluments or rank. He durst not begin to preach until he was satisfied of a call from God; but, receiving that, it was no high-sounding boast, when he declared his readiness, not only to become a prisoner, but a martyr for his Divine Redeemer.

Three days after his ordination, he wrote to a friend as follows:—

"Gloucester, June 23, 1736.

"Never a poor creature set up with so small a stock. When the good Bishop Benson announced last year, in his visitation charge, that he would ordain none under three and twenty, my heart leaped for joy. I thought I should have time (as my intention was) to make at least a hundred sermons, with which to begin my ministry. But so far from this being the case, I have not a single one, except that which I made for a small Society, and which I sent to a neighbouring clergyman, to convince him how unfit I was to take upon me the important work of preaching. He kept it for a fortnight, and then sent it back with a guinea for the loan of it, telling me he had divided it into two, and had preached it morning and evening to his congregation. With this sermon I intend to begin, God willing, next Sunday, not doubting but that He, who increased a little lad's loaves and fishes for the feeding of a great multitude, will, from time to time, supply me with spiritual food for whatever congregations He, in His all-wise providence, shall be pleased to call me to. Help, help me, my dear friend, with your warmest addresses to the throne of grace. At present, this is the language of my heart—

"'A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
Into Thy hands I fall;
Be Thou my strength, my righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.'

"Oh, cease not to pray for

"Yours, etc.,
"George Whitefield."

To another friend, he wrote, on June 26th, "To-morrow I am to preach at Crypt, but, believe me, I shall displease some, being determined to speak against their assemblies.[50] But I must tell them the truth, or otherwise I shall not be a faithful minister of Christ." To-morrow came. Whitefield preached his first sermon; and, three days afterwards, wrote as follows:—

"Gloucester, June 30, 1736.

"My dear Friend,—Glory! glory! glory be ascribed to an Almighty, Triune God. Last Sunday, in the afternoon, I preached my first sermon in the Church of St. Mary de Crypt, where I was baptized, and also first received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Curiosity, as you may easily guess, drew a large congregation together. The sight at first a little awed me; but I was comforted with a heartfelt sense of the Divine presence, and soon found the unspeakable advantage of having been accustomed to public speaking when a boy at school, and of exhorting and teaching the prisoners, and poor people at their private houses, whilst at the University. By these means, I was kept from being daunted over-much. As I proceeded, I perceived the fire kindled, till at last, though so young, and amidst a crowd who knew me in my childish days, I trust I was enabled to speak with some degree of gospel authority. A few mocked, but most for the present seemed struck; and I have since heard that a complaint has been made to the bishop that I drove fifteen mad. The worthy prelate, as I am informed, wished that the madness might not be forgotten before next Sunday."

Thus did the renowned evangelist begin his ministry. Great was the effect produced. A few mocked; but most of the congregation displayed profound emotion, and, to use the slang of the young preacher's enemies, "fifteen were driven mad." Bishop Benson himself was probably not present; but the next day Whitefield wrote, "Our good bishop was pleased to give me another present of five guineas, a great supply for one who had not a guinea in the world."

The reader can easily imagine the scene in the Church of St. Mary de Crypt, where the usual congregations, as in most other churches at that period, were far from overflowing. Now there was a crowd—of whom? old men, who, in years long since past, had been boon companions of Whitefield's father; aged women, who remembered him when he was a tiny infant in his mother's arms; topers, not a few, whom, as a blue-aproned tapster, he had served in the neighbouring public-house; schoolfellows with whom he had been associated in many a merry spree; and a mingled multitude who knew him only as a Gloucester boy, who, by his own exertions, had made himself an honour to[51] his native town. And what about the preacher? There he stands, in a position which he had never occupied before, in diaconal gown and bands, somewhat awed by the multitude before him, and by a conviction of the responsibility of the office which he was now assuming; but, at the same time, nerved with fidelity to his Master, and comforted by a consciousness that God was with him; his stature above the middle height—slender, and yet well-proportioned; his manner graceful; his features regular; his complexion fair; his eyes small, lively, and of a dark-blue colour, one of them with a squint, occasioned by the measles in his childhood days; his voice unusual, both in melody and strength, and its fine modulations accompanied by the exquisite action of an accomplished orator. No wonder that one of his uneducated hearers said "he preached like a lion." The comparison was far from perfect. It expressed the force and vehemence of that oratory which awed his hearers, and made them tremble like Felix before Paul; but it failed to convey an idea of the fervent and melting charity, the earnestness of persuasion, and the outpouring of redundant love, which characterised the preaching of this youthful evangelist for the next four and thirty years.[58]

The subject of his first sermon was, "The Necessity and Benefit of Religious Society;"[59] probably the same sermon he afterwards preached before the Religious Societies, at one of their quarterly meetings, in Bow Church, London, and which was immediately published. "I shall displease some," said Whitefield in a letter already quoted, "for I am determined to speak against their assemblies." How he fulfilled his determination will be seen by the following extract from his sermon:—

"I warn you of the great danger those are in, who, either by their subscriptions, presence, or approbation, promote Societies of a quite opposite nature to religion. And here I would not be understood to mean only those public meetings which are designed manifestly for nothing else but revellings and banquetings, for chambering and wantonness, and at which a modest heathen would blush to be present; but also those seemingly[52] innocent entertainments and meetings which the politer part of the world are so very fond of, and spend so much time in; but which, notwithstanding, keep as many persons out of a sense of true religion as intemperance, debauchery, or any other crime whatever. Indeed, whilst we are in this world, we must have proper relaxations, to fit us both for the business of our profession and religion. But then, for persons who call themselves Christians, that have solemnly vowed at their baptism, to renounce the vanities of this sinful world, and that are commanded in Scripture to 'abstain from all appearance of evil,' and to have their 'conversation in heaven,'—for such persons as these to support meetings that (to say no worse of them) are vain and trifling, and have a natural tendency to draw off our minds from God, is absurd, ridiculous, and sinful."

This certainly was plain speaking in the first sermon of a young man only a little more than twenty-one years of age; but it is exactly what might be expected from an Oxford Methodist; and something like it is greatly needed, and would be highly useful in the pulpits of the present day. Would that preachers now had more of the uncompromising, bold, conscientious fidelity that marked the young evangelist among his townsmen in the Church of St. Mary de Crypt, Gloucester! Prophets "prophesy smooth things; and the people love to have it so." It was otherwise with Whitefield. "I must tell them the truth," said he to his friend only a few hours before he preached his first sermon, "I must tell them the truth, or I shall not be a faithful minister of Christ." From this he never swerved. To the end of life it was one of his great guiding principles. It often brought upon him the ridicule of wicked wits, and the displeasure of many who imagined themselves Christians; but to all this Whitefield was indifferent. His Master was Christ; and, "to his own Master," he was determined to stand or fall (Rom. xiv. 4). Not long before his death, he said, "I remember when I began to speak against baptismal regeneration—in my first sermon, printed when I was about twenty-two years old, or a little more—the first quarrel many had with me was because I did not say that all people who were baptized were born again. I would as soon believe the doctrine of transubstantiation. Can I believe that a person who, from the time of his baptism to the time, perhaps, of his death, never fights against; the world, the flesh, and the devil, and never minds one[53] word of what his god-fathers and god-mothers promised for him, is a real Christian? No, I can as soon believe that a little wafer in the hands of a priest is the very blood and bones of Jesus Christ."[60]

So much then in reference to Whitefield's notable sermon in the Church of St. Mary de Crypt, on June 27th, 1736,—the first of upwards of eighteen thousand which he preached before he died.[61]

On June 30th, he returned to Oxford, "where," he says, "I was received with great joy by my religious friends. For about a week, I continued in my servitor's habit, and then took my degree of Bachelor of Arts. My dear and honoured friends, the Reverend Messrs. John and Charles Wesley, being now for some time embarked for Georgia, and one or two more having taken orders, the interest of Methodism, as it was then and is now termed, had visibly declined, and very few of this reputed mad way were left at the University. This somewhat discouraged me at times, but the Lord Jesus supported my soul, and made me easy by giving me a strong conviction that I was where He would have me to be. I soon found my degree was of service to me, as it gave me access to those I could not be free with when in an inferior situation; and, as opportunity offered, I was enabled to converse with them about the things which belonged to the kingdom of God. The subscriptions for the poor prisoners, which amounted to about 40 per annum, were soon put into my hands. Two or three small charity schools, maintained by the Methodists, were under my more immediate inspection; which, with the time I spent in following my studies, private retirement, and religious converse, sweetly filled up the whole of my day, and kept me from the too common complaint of having any time hang upon my hands. The distributing money and books amongst the poor prisoners, and employing such as could work, I found was of admirable service. For hereby they were kept from that worst of gaol diseases—idleness; and were not only convinced that we bore a good will towards them,[54] but also led them, as it were, under an obligation to hear the instructions we gave them. This practice was first taken up by the Messrs. Wesley; and would to God all ordinaries of prisons would copy their good example! They would deserve well of the Commonwealth, and if actuated by the love of God, would receive a glorious reward from Him, who hath said, 'I was sick and in prison, and ye came unto me.'"[62]

Whitefield was happy—happy in himself, in his associates, in his work, and in his hope of heaven. A week after his arrival at Oxford, he wrote:—

"The very idea of what we are to be in glory transports me. There, there, we shall see the blessed Jesus, whom our souls have so eagerly thirsted after in this life, surrounded with glory, and attended with myriads of His holy angels, who will rejoice at our safe arrival to their holy mansions, and with repeated echoes will welcome us to heaven. There, there, we shall not only see, but live with Him, not for a day, a month, a year, an age, but to all eternity. And who can tell the pleasure, comfort, peace, joy, delight, and transport a glorified saint will feel in the possession of his wished-for, longed-for, ever adorable, ever gracious, blessed, beloved triune God, and that for ever? Surely the happiness will be so great, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither can the heart of man conceive the thousandth part thereof."

For a few weeks Whitefield devoted himself to the work of endeavouring to benefit the prisoners in Oxford gaol; and then wrote as follows:—

"I began to be more than content in my present state of life, and had thoughts of abiding at the University, at least for some years, to finish my studies, and do what good I could amongst the poor despised Methodists. But, by a series of unforeseen, unexpected, and unsought-for providences, I was called from my beloved retirement to take a journey to the Metropolis. Whilst I was an undergraduate, I was very intimate with one Mr. Broughton,[63] a professed Methodist, who had lately taken orders, and was curate at the Tower of London. With him, when absent, I frequently corresponded; and, when present, we took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God as friends. Being called down into Hampshire, he wrote me to be of good courage, and bid me hasten to town to officiate in his absence. Accordingly, on Wednesday, August 4th, (the prisoners being[55] provided for by the coming of Mr. Hervey,[64] another young worthy Methodist, who had lately taken Deacon's Orders,) with fear and trembling, I obeyed the summons, and went in the stage coach to London. There being no other passenger, I employed myself a good part of the way in earnest supplication to the God of all grace to be my guide and comforter. In the evening, I reached the Tower, and was kindly received by my dear friend. The remainder of the week was spent in visiting Sir John Philips, etc., who were too glad to see me. But God sent me something to ballast it; for, as I passed along the streets, many came out of their shops to see so young a person in a gown and cassock; and one cried out, 'There's a boy parson;' which served to mortify my pride, and put me also upon turning the apostolical exhortation into prayer, 'Let no man despise thy youth.'"[65]

Whitefield remained two months in London, and preached his first sermon there, on Sunday, August 8th, in Bishopsgate-street Church. "As I went up the pulpit stairs," says he, "almost all seemed to sneer at me on account of my youth; but they soon grew serious and exceedingly attentive, and, after I came down, shewed me great tokens of respect, blessed me as I passed along, and made great enquiry who I was."[66]

During his residence in the metropolis, Whitefield's work in the Tower was to read prayers twice a week, catechize and preach once, and visit the soldiers in the infirmary and barracks daily. But, besides this, he read prayers every evening at Wapping Chapel, and preached in Ludgate prison every Tuesday. The chapel in the Tower was crowded every Sunday, numbers of "religious friends," and "several young men," coming "from divers parts of London," to hear him "discourse about the new birth and the necessity of renouncing all in affection in order to follow Jesus Christ."

When he had been about a month in town, letters came from the Wesley brothers, and from Ingham, their fellow-labourer in Georgia. Whitefield's soul was fired, and he longed to join them. He consulted his friends; but they "all agreed that labourers were needed at home; that, as yet,[56] he had no visible call to go abroad; and that it was his duty not to be rash, but to wait and see what Providence might point out to him." For the time being, this contented him; and, Mr. Broughton having returned to London, Whitefield went back to his charge at Oxford.[67]

Meanwhile, he wrote the following characteristic letter to Wesley, in Georgia, a letter which, though containing several of the facts already narrated, is too interesting to be omitted or abridged.

"London, September 2, 1736.

"Very Dear and Rev. Sir,—Being informed by Mr. Hutton that a ship would soon sail towards your coasts, I thought it would be unpardonable in me not to write to my spiritual father in Christ. But what shall I begin with first? How shall I have room or time to relate to you a thousandth part of those mercies which God, of His infinite goodness in Christ Jesus, hath conferred upon me since I wrote last?

"If I mistake not, my last was dated from Gloucester, whence, after the Lord Jesus had made me an instrument of forming a Society of some sincere souls, God called me to Oxford again. From thence, after a stay of three months, I returned to Gloucester. Directed by Divine Providence, accompanied with the earnest solicitations of my friends, I entered into holy orders. O pray, rev. sir, that I may be a faithful minister of Christ.

"You will naturally ask, 'Where hath it pleased God to settle you?' Hear, rev. sir, and admire the Divine goodness towards the worst of sinners. My friends had laid a plan, and the Bishop had united with them, to have me settled in Gloucester. But I made it my earnest prayer to Almighty God, through Christ, that I might either not go into orders, or continue at Oxford some time longer, to fit me for the work of the ministry. God was pleased to answer this prayer wonderfully; for, upon my return to Oxford, most of our friends being called away to other parts of the country, the Lord put it into the heart of our dear friend Mr. Morgan[68] to inform Sir John Philips of our affairs; who immediately sent me word that he would allow me 30 a year, if I would continue at Oxford, and superintend the affairs of the Methodists. Providence directed me to accept of his kind offer: accordingly, I preach every Sunday to the prisoners, and follow your steps as close as possible.

"I am now at London, supplying the place of dear Mr. Broughton, who is curate at the Tower; he being gone to Dummer, in Hampshire, to assist dear Mr. Hutchins,[69] who is gone to put his brother under the care of pious Mr. Clayton.[70]


"Sir John Philips is very much in our interest, and a blessed instrument of supplying our wants, and of encouraging us in our weak endeavours to promote the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. But few friends are left at Oxford; yet the Lord hath given me great encouragement out of His holy word, and I hope that some gownsmen will yet be added to our number. The greatest opposition comes from the laity at present. Yet, there is much good done. Our fellow-students are pretty quiet, though our names stink among them. The Lord make us humble and thankful!

"The stock for the prisoners is put into my hands. The Lord give me wisdom and grace to distribute it as I ought.

"Farewell, rev. and dear sir. God be with you, and prosper you in all your undertakings. May you be made a happy instrument of converting the Gentiles. And, after you have served your blessed Master the appointed time on earth, may you sit down with Him in eternal rest and glory in heaven.

"I am, etc.,      
"George Whitefield."[71]

About the beginning of the month of October, 1736, Whitefield returned to his "poor prisoners" at Oxford. He writes:—

"Oh what a delightful life did I lead here! What communion did I daily enjoy with God! How sweetly did my hours in private glide away, in reading and praying over Mr. Henry's Comment upon the Scriptures! Nor was I alone happy; for several dear youths were quickened greatly, and met daily at my room to build up each other in their most holy faith."[72]

Who were the youths in question? They evidently were new converts, and therefore cannot be included among the Oxford Methodists raised up prior to Wesley's embarkation for Georgia. Whitefield has left us in the dark respecting their names and their future life; but is it not reasonable to infer that, as several of Wesley's friends ran an illustrious career, so Whitefield's collegiate converts were also honoured, by the great Head of the Church, in turning men from sin to holiness, and from the power of Satan unto God? We know something of the immense results of the influence exerted by Wesley upon young men at Oxford, but are entirely ignorant of the subsequent history of those whom[58] Whitefield gathered together after Wesley left for Georgia. Some of them were poor, and were indebted for their maintenance, at least in part, to that woman of singular excellence, the Lady Betty Hastings,[73] sister of the ninth Earl of Huntingdon, whose remarkable dowager became Whitefield's chief friend and patroness. Whitefield writes concerning his young associates and himself:—

"God raised up friends for our temporal support. The late Honourable Betty Hastings, that elect lady, allowed some of them two or three small exhibitions. I also partook of her ladyship's bounty; and a gentleman, whose heart was in an especial manner knit to me when in London, was stirred up, without being solicited, to send me not only money for the poor, but also a sufficiency to discharge debts I had contracted for books before I took my degree. Upon his recommendation, also, I was chosen a corresponding member of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, which I rejoiced in, as it gave me an opportunity of procuring books at a cheap and easy rate for the poor people."

Whitefield's life at Oxford was useful and happy. He loved the place, and was as reluctant to leave it as his friend Wesley had been twelve months before; and yet his work here was now nearly ended. Six weeks after his return from London, he again took his departure, and henceforth lived the life of an evangelistic wanderer. He writes:—

"About the middle of November" (1736) "I was once more called from my beloved, though little, scene of action. The Rev. Mr. Kinchin, now with God,[74] had lately been awakened, and accordingly resolved to associate with the despised Methodists. He was then minister of Dummer, in Hampshire; and, being likely to be chosen Dean of Corpus Christi College, he desired me to come and officiate for him, till that affair should be decided. By the advice of friends I went, and he came to supply my place at Oxford. His parish consisting chiefly of poor and illiterate people,[75] my proud heart could not well brook it. I would have given[59] all the world for one of my Oxford friends, and mourned for lack of them, as a dove that has lost her mate. But upon giving myself to prayer, and reading Mr. Law's excellent character of Ouranius, in his "Serious Call to a Devout Life," my mind was reconciled to such conversation as the place afforded me. Before I came to Dummer, Mr. Kinchin had used his people, according to the rubric, to have public prayers twice a day, namely, in the morning, it being winter season, before it was light; and in the evening after the people returned from their work. He also catechised the lambs of the flock daily, and visited from house to house. He loved his people, and was beloved by them. I prosecuted his plan, and generally divided the day into three parts—eight hours for study and retirement, eight hours for sleep and meals, and eight hours for reading prayers, catechising, and visiting the parish. The profit I reaped by these exercises, and conversing with the poor country people, was unspeakable. I frequently learnt as much by an afternoon's visit as in a week's study."

Whitefield returned to Oxford on June 30, and purposed to spend "some years" in that sect of learning; but already he had been two months in London, and was now at Dummer, officiating for his friend Kinchin. During his six weeks' residence in this small Hampshire village, two events occurred, one or other of which was likely to affect the whole of his future life. First, he had the offer of "a very profitable curacy in London." Had he accepted this, he probably, instead of becoming one of the illustrious evangelists of the eighteenth century, would have settled down into an earnest and useful, but unknown, pastor of a parochial church and congregation. The offer, to a penniless young parson, was a tempting one; and the wonder is that it was not eagerly embraced. Whitefield was not only without means, but was actually in debt. On November 5, just before he went to Dummer, he wrote to his friend Harris, the Gloucester bookseller, "Herewith I have sent you 7, to pay for Mr. Henry's Commentary. Dear Squire Thorold lately made me a present of ten guineas; so that now (for ever blessed be the Divine goodness!) I can send you more than I thought I should be able to do. In time I hope to pay the apothecary's bill." The man was without purse and scrip; and yet, strangely enough, he declined the offer of the "very profitable curacy" which had been made to him.

The other event was the return of Charles Wesley from[60] Georgia. Charles landed in England on December 3; and, on December 22, wrote in his journal: "I received a letter from Mr. Whitefield, offering himself to go to Georgia."[76] What happened during this brief interval of nineteen days? Whitefield shall relate his own story. He says:—

"About the middle of December, a letter came from Mr. Broughton informing me that Mr. Charles Wesley was arrived at London. Soon after came a letter from Mr. Charles himself, wherein he informed me that he was come over to procure labourers; but, added he, 'I dare not prevent God's nomination.' In a few days after this came another letter from Mr. John Wesley, wherein were these words—'Only Mr. Delamotte is with me, till God shall stir up the hearts of some of His servants, who, putting their lives in His hands, shall come over and help us, where the harvest is so great, and the labourers so few. What if thou art the man, Mr. Whitefield?' In another letter were these words—'Do you ask me what you shall have? Food to eat, and raiment to put on; a house to lay your head in, such as your Lord had not; and a crown of glory that fadeth not away.' Upon reading this, my heart leaped within me, and, as it were, echoed to the call. Many things concurred to make my way clear. Mr. Kinchin was now elected Dean of Corpus Christi College, and being thereby obliged to reside at Oxford, he willingly took upon him the charge of the prisoners. Mr. Hervey was ready to serve the cure at Dummer. Mr. Wesley was my dear friend, and I thought it would be a great advantage to be under his tuition. Georgia was an infant, and likely to be an increasing colony; and the Government seemed to have its welfare much at heart. I had heard many Indians were near it, and had thought it a matter of great importance that serious clergymen should be sent there. Retirement and privacy were what my soul delighted in. A voyage to sea would, in all probability, not do my constitution much hurt; nay, I had heard that the sea was sometimes beneficial to weakly people. And supposing the worst, as I must necessarily return to take priests' orders, it would then be left to my choice whether I would fix in my native country or go abroad any more. These things being thoroughly weighed, I at length resolved to embark for Georgia; and knowing that I should never put my resolution into practice, if I conferred with flesh and blood, I wrote to my relations to inform them of my design, and withal told them, 'if they would promise not to dissuade me from my intended voyage, I would come and take a personal leave of them; if otherwise, knowing my own weakness, I was determined to embark without visiting them at all.' A few days after, Mr. Kinchin came to Dummer, and introduced Mr. Hervey into the cure. They gave me some friendly counsel; and, having spent the beginning of Christmas sweetly together, and taken an affectionate leave of the Dummer people, I returned once more to Oxford, to bid adieu to my friends, who were as dear to me as[61] my own soul. My resolution at first a little shocked them; but having reason to think, from my relation of circumstances, that I had a call from Providence, most of them said, 'The will of the Lord be done!'"[77]

The Rubicon was passed. Young Whitefield, at the age of twenty-two, resolved to be a missionary. In the quietude of a small country village, he had time to think and to pray about such a calling. Fortunately, there were no friends at hand, with more affection than self-denying zeal, ready to interfere with the yearnings of his big heart of mercy, and to set aside his purpose. True, he had only six months before resolved to live "some years" at Oxford, to complete his studies, and to tend his prisoners; but Wesley's characteristic letter had set his soul on fire, and now he was determined to join his friend in Georgia.

To Whitefield, the year (1736) had been a most eventful one. The first three months were spent in Gloucester, partly in forming and establishing a religious Society; partly in visiting the inmates of the county gaol; partly in reading authors like Burkitt, Henry, Baxter, and Alleine; and, to a great extent, in public and private prayer. There was no prospect of his being admitted into orders, for he was only twenty-one, and the bishop had publicly declared that he would ordain no one under twenty-three. Indeed, Whitefield himself shrank from immediate ordination, and prayed with all his might against it. In the month of March, he returned to Oxford, where his friends made him Wesley's successor in the unendowed chaplaincy of Oxford prison, and where, to his great surprise, he received from Sir John Philips the offer of a gratuity of 30 a year. In June, he was ordained by Bishop Benson. In July, his University made him a Bachelor of Arts. In August and September, the "Boy-Parson" was employed in preaching in London churches and in London prisons, and with such success that people from all parts of the vast city began to flock together to hear him. In November, the youthful preacher, who, to some extent, had startled London, became the temporary pastor of a pigmy parish of less than three hundred souls;[62] and here, in the retirement he loved so much, he suddenly, but not without thought and prayer, determined that he would embark for Georgia. As soon as possible he hastened back to Oxford; his collegiate friends, at first, were "a little shocked," but afterwards acquiesced; and he himself wrote to Charles Wesley the following letter—a letter which will fitly close the present chapter:—

"Oxon, December 30, 1736.

"Dearest Sir,—Last night I returned from a weeping flock at Dummer, and met with a grateful, sweet reception from my Oxon friends. But, alas! how transient are our visits in this life! for to-morrow I purpose, God willing, to set out for Gloucester; or otherwise I shall hardly see the bishop, who, I hope, will contribute something towards assisting the Americans. Add to this, that friends promise not to dissuade me from my enterprise; and I have a brother, I believe, now there, that comes on purpose to see me; so that all here bid me hasten away. O may such speedy removes teach me to be every moment ready at my blessed Master's call; and remind me that I have here no continuing city, but seek one to come!

"I have great reason to bless God for sending me to Dummer. It has, I think, been an excellent preparation for Georgia. It has brought me to live alone, and much improved both my outward and inward man. I have written to Salmon, and will, God willing, shortly send to Hall.[78] No one but myself is ready to go from Oxford. Dear Mr. Hutchins will go hereafter, I believe; but his time, as yet, is not fully come. I trust God will give me strength to throw myself blindfold into His hands, and permit Him to do with me whatsoever seemeth good in His sight. All friends like the German Hymn admirably. Happy shall I be if my lot is cast amongst such pious souls;[79] but, I think, God calls me in a particular manner to assist your brother.

"My friend will not take it amiss, if I enquire why he chooses to be secretary to Mr. Oglethorpe, and not rather go where labourers are so much wanted, in the character of a missionary. Did the bishop ordain us, my dear friend, to write bonds, receipts, etc., or to preach the Gospel? Or dare we not trust God to provide for our relations, without endangering, or at least retarding, our spiritual improvement? But I go too far. Habe me excusatum. You know I was always heady and self-willed.

"I hear you are to be in Gloucester next week. Will dear Mr. Charles take a bed with me at Mr. Harris's? I believe he will be welcome. You will write next post, if convenient, and direct for me to Mr. Harris's,[63] junior, bookseller, in Gloucester. All friends here kindly salute and long to see you. Mr. Kinchin is all heart. Dear Mr. Charles, adieu!—Let us wrestle in prayer for each other; and believe me to be, dearest sir,

"Your affectionate brother in Christ,
"George Whitefield.

"P.S.—Is it expedient to go into priest's orders? Tell me, that I may acquaint the bishop."[80]




Whitefield wished and expected to embark for Georgia without delay; but, by a series of unforeseen occurrences, he was detained in England during the whole of the year 1737. In some respects this was the most important period of his life. He had transferred the care of the prisoners at Oxford to Dean Kinchin. James Hervey had succeeded him in the curacy at Dummer. He had no parochial charge, and probably he wished for none. At the early age of twenty-two, he was an episcopally ordained evangelist, ready and eager to preach whenever and wherever an opportunity of doing so was presented. The year was spent in a continued succession of public services, which literally startled the nation. He was a new phenomenon in the Church of England. All eyes were fixed upon him. His popularity in Bristol, London, and other places was enormous. His preaching became the subject of public remark; his name, hitherto almost entirely unknown, became a household word. Thousands and tens of thousands were making enquiries concerning him. His position was perilous. Popular favour might have ruined him; but the grace of God preserved him. This year's evangelistic labours in England gave a bias to the whole of his future life. Never afterwards did he desire church preferment. As an ordained clergyman, the whole of his subsequent career was irregular. He was a gospel rover. No power on earth could confine him to a single parish or a single church. He prepared the way for Methodist itinerancy. His marvellous preaching brought Methodism into a notoriety far greater than it had hitherto[65] attained. Though Wesley, in learning and in mental acquirements generally, was much superior to young Whitefield, and though he was his equal in self-denying and laborious piety, it may be fairly doubted whether Wesley's preaching in 1739 would have attracted the attention which it did, if Whitefield had not preceded him in 1737. Whitefield's appearance, voice, elocution, and pulpit eloquence, drew around him thousands who, in the first instance, cared but little about his doctrines. They came to see and hear the orator; they returned more impressed with what he said, than how he said it. The doctrines of the man soon excited as much attention as the man himself; and when, in the two years following, his more sober-minded friends, the Wesley brothers, came preaching the same great truths, the people—friends and foes—were as eager to hear them as they previously had been to hear him.

That England needed such a ministry as that of Whitefield and the Wesleys, no one doubts. It would be the height of bigoted absurdity to say or to imagine that, when they commenced their marvellous career, England had no converted ministers except themselves.[81] The episcopal charges, the sermons, and other publications of the period, afford ample proof that, in the pulpits of the Church of England especially, there were a considerable number of not only able and learned, but thoroughly earnest and godly men. The reader must not forget that, at this very time, the see of London was filled by a man (Edmund Gibson), who, in a conscientious discharge of duty, had offended George the Second, not only by inveighing from the pulpit against masquerades, to which that monarch was much attached, but by procuring the signatures of several bishops to an address to the throne, "praying for the entire abolition of such pernicious diversions." It is true, that this selfsame bishop, in 1739, warned the people of his diocese against[66] the enthusiasm of the Methodists; and, at a later period, published a pamphlet, in which he animadverted somewhat strongly on "the conduct and behaviour" of the members of this rising sect; but there is nothing, in either of the publications just mentioned, contrary to the fact that Dr. Gibson was an able, earnest, godly man. Besides Gibson, there was Sherlock, successively bishop of Bangor, Salisbury, and London, a man of great ability, whose sermons contain fine specimens of pulpit eloquence, and who was even more eminent for his piety than his learning. There was the celebrated Dr. Waterland, than whom orthodoxy never had a more valiant defender, a man of immense learning, who was once offered a bishopric, but modestly declined it. There was Bishop Butler, who, while rector of Stanhope, in 1736, published his great work, "The Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Course of Nature." There was Archbishop Secker, the intimate friend of Bishop Butler, and who, for nearly three years, under an assumed name, carried on with Wesley a friendly correspondence on some of the most vital truths of the Christian religion. There was the well-known Dr. Jortin, an able and voluminous author, and a sincere and devout Christian. Many others might be mentioned, all learned and deeply pious, though, perhaps, not preaching with clearness the characteristic doctrines of the Methodists. Ever since the days of Dr. Horneck and Bishop Beveridge, there had been in the pulpits of the Established Church a considerable number of earnest preachers, resembling in spirit, fidelity, and sentiment, the men who, in 1677, had been the means of instituting the Religious, or, as they might be termed, the Pre-Methodist Societies, which had existed and multiplied, in various parts of the kingdom, during the last sixty years.

The Dissenters, also, were not without talented and useful ministers. At the very time, when Whitefield commenced his illustrious career, Dr. Isaac Watts was still rendering important service to the Church of Christ; Dr. Philip Doddridge was at the height of his Christian usefulness; Dr. Nathaniel Lardner, the learned author of the "Credibility of the Gospel History," was preaching at Crutched[67] Friars; Dr. Samuel Chandler, another able writer, was lecturer at the Old Jewry Chapel; Daniel Neal, the historian of the Puritans, was pastor of a congregation in Jewin Street; and Dr. John Gill, the ultra-Calvinist, was now minister at Horsley Down, and writing his ponderous commentary on the sacred Scriptures.

All these were pious, able, useful men. Their service to the cause of Christ was great. Their names and memories can never perish. But, notwithstanding all that has just been said, and all that might be added, there cannot be doubt that England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland,—the Established Church, the Presbyterians, and the Dissenters,—all greatly needed a ministry like that of Whitefield and his friends, the Oxford Methodists. Speaking generally, to the churches of the land might have been appropriately applied the language once addressed to the church in Sardis: "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." The country was filled with abounding wickedness, in its most flagrant forms; and Christian men were at their wits' end how to stem the disastrous deluge. The secular press of the period—newspapers and magazines—contain abundant evidence of this. Extracts and summaries, to this effect, have already been published in "The Life and Times of Wesley," and it would be wearisome to repeat them here; but there is another class of evidence which, without any repetition, may be fitly introduced.

Almost from the beginning of his career, Whitefield was practically a Dissenter; and there can hardly be a doubt, that, directly and indirectly, he was immensely useful in reviving the religious life of Dissenting churches. What was their condition when he commenced his ministry? Dr. Watts was now sixty-three years of age. He had long been the sweet singer of, at least, one branch of the Dissenting community, and, for forty years, had been pastor of a congregation in Mark Lane, London, occupying, as their successor, the pulpit of the Rev. Joseph Caryl, Dr. John Owen, the Rev. David Clarkson, and Dr. Isaac Chauncey. No man was better qualified to form a correct estimate of the religious state of the Dissenters generally than himself. What is his testimony on this grave and momentous subject?[68] In the year 1731, he published his "Humble Attempt towards the Revival of Practical Religion among Christians, by a Serious Address to Ministers and People." The following remarkable extracts are taken from that publication:—

"Is this a day when we should leave the peculiar articles of the religion of Christ out of our ministrations, when the truth of them is boldly called in question and denied by such multitudes who dwell among us? Is this a proper time for us to forget the name of Christ in our public labours, when the witty talents and reasonings of men join together, and labour hard to cast out His sacred name with contempt and scorn? Is it so seasonable a practice in this age to neglect these evangelic themes, and to preach up virtue, without the special principles and motives with which Christ has furnished us, when there are such numbers amongst us who are fond of heathenism, who are endeavouring to introduce it again into a Christian country, and to spread the poison of infidelity through a nation called by His name? If this be our practice, our hearers will begin to think that infidels may have some reason on their side, and that the glorious doctrines of the gospel of Christ are not so necessary as our fathers thought them. Will this be our glory, to imitate the heathen philosophers, and to drop the gospel of the Son of God? to be complimented by unbelievers as men of superior sense and as deep reasoners, while we abandon the faith of Jesus, and starve the souls of our hearers by neglecting to distribute to them this bread of life which came down from heaven?" (p. 20.)

"The world has been so long imposed upon by shameful additions of men to the gospel of Christ, that they seem now to be resolved to bear them no longer. Because so many irrational notions and follies have been mixed up with the Christian scheme, it is now a modish humour of the age to renounce almost everything that reason doth not discover, and to reduce Christianity itself to little more than the light of nature and the dictates of reason. Under this sort of influence, there are some who are believers of the Bible and of the Divine mission of Christ, and who dare not renounce the gospel itself; and yet they interpret some of the peculiar and express doctrines of it, into so poor, so narrow, and so jejune a meaning, that they suffer but little to remain, beyond the articles of natural religion" (p. 25).

The two foregoing extracts were addressed to ministers, and are lamentably appropriate at the present day. The following were addressed to the people; and, though mostly put in the form of queries, they are so put as to be equivalent to plain and positive assertions:—

"The persons whom I would, at this time, compare together, are the common professors of religion in the Church of England, and the common professors among Dissenters, the bulk of the people both on the one side and on the other; and I would fain excite you, who call yourselves Protestant Dissenters, to bethink yourselves concerning the sensible decay of[69] real goodness that is found amongst you, in order to awaken you to the warmest zeal and utmost endeavours to revive languishing and dying religion" (p. 56).

"O let it never be said by those who differ from us, and especially by those who hate us, 'These are the persons who profess purity in worship, but see how vicious they live! They are as much given to luxury in diet, to extravagance and vanity in dress, to everything that is sensual and voluptuous, or gay and vain, as any of us who do not make such pretences to religion; they are as loose, as frothy, as unsavoury, in their discourse, as any of their neighbours; they have no more inclination, or at least no more courage, to speak one word for God and religion than we have; they are as ready to over-reach those who deal with them, and to cheat and defraud in matters of trade, as any amongst us'" (p. 79).

"Shall I address myself with freedom to the parents and governors of families? Are you as solicitous to keep up the seasons of worship in your households as your fathers were? Are there not too many among you, who scarce ever call upon God in their families at all, unless it be perhaps on a Lord's-day evening? Have you learned to change the course of nature, to turn night into day, and day into night? Can the seasons of family worship be well maintained, or can the master perform it with a clear head and a pious heart, if he indulges his amusements in public drinking-houses till the hour of midnight approaches?" (p. 87.)

"Is not bankruptcy reckoned too small a crime amongst the Dissenters, as well as amongst their neighbours? and that where there can be found no other reason for it, but that they have lived too fast; they have affected the luxuries of life in their dress and furniture, food, equipage, and attendance, and would vie with their neighbours in splendour, grandeur, and expense, where the circumstances of their estate or trade have not been able to afford it? Or, perhaps they have frequented taverns early and late; they have habituated themselves to a morning whet, to prepare for some luxurious dish at noon; they have indulged their pleasures, and neglected their shop. Or, it may be they have sought to grow rich at once by plunging into trade and debt beyond all proportion of their estate, or possibility of payment, if they should meet with any disappointing accident. They have too often assumed the character of the wicked, who borrows when he knows not how to pay again. They have supplied their shops with goods, their tables with costly provisions, their houses with rich furniture, and their families with shining apparel, out of the purses of their credulous neighbours. A man who should have been found in the practice of half these vices would never have been called a Dissenter in the days of our fathers; and it is a heavy shame, and an in supportable disgrace, that there should be any such characters in our day that should wear the name of a Nonconformist" (p. 89).

"I proceed to the sixth and last thing wherein the Protestant Dissenters were wont eminently to distinguish themselves, and that is in their abstaining from those gayer vanities and dangerous diversions of their age, which border so near vice and irreligion, that sometimes it is pretty hard to separate them. Such are many of our midnight assemblies, midnight balls,[70] lewd and profane comedies, masquerades, public gaming tables, and deep play. In this respect, shall I put the question, 'What do you more than others?' It was a constant and known mark of a Protestant Dissenter in former days, to refuse attendance upon any of these kinds of diversions. I hope we have not utterly lost this piece of Puritanism amongst us. I am bold to say, that if our fathers were in any degree too rigid and austere in pronouncing these things absolutely sinful, and in their utter prohibition of themselves and their households from ever once attending upon them; it is certain that we their children are much more criminal in giving too great a loose to many of these diversions. Can you not name the Dissenters who waste that time at a play-house, or a vain assembly of merriment, at a public gaming table, or a dancing room,—that time, I say, which belongs to God or their families? who spend those seasons in late visits and private balls, or at cards, whereby evening devotion is utterly excluded? who can wear out whole hours in these foolish and perilous recreations, and complain they have no time for prayer? Can you point to no persons, who are members of Dissenting churches, who entice their acquaintance to these vanities? Do you know no mothers who lead their little daughters thither, nor fathers who permit their sons to go without control? And do they know, or will they not believe, that the road to lewdness and impiety, to ruin and beggary, lies through these scenes of dangerous diversion?

"To sum up all in general, your fathers had an honourable character, and a very great reputation, even among the looser parts of the nation, for strict virtue, for exemplary and sincere godliness, beyond the common multitude of those who called themselves the Established Church; for if any person appeared to be strictly religious, and fearful of indulging any sin,—if he was scrupulous of any doubtful practice, or attempted to give an admonition to the sons of vice, he was presently called a Puritan, or a Fanatic, or Presbyterian, by way of reproach. This honour was a frequent tribute paid by the ungodly world to the superior virtue and merit of your ancestors and their profession of nonconformity. What is become of this your reputation? Have you lost your good name? Have you sold your glory for the indulgence of the follies and vanities of life? Have you fallen into such a neglect of strict religion as leaves no other distinction between you and your neighbours, besides your worship once a week in a different place and manner? It is time, my friends, when religion is sunk into such a universal decay in the nation, to enquire whether we have not suffered it to decay amongst us also, and whether we are not sharers in the common degeneracy. If the bulk of the nation be gone far in the neglect of virtue and godliness, let us not dare to follow the multitude, and make our profession of separation an empty name, and our pretence to purer worship a mere badge of hypocrisy" (p. 91).

Such was the significant language of the most notable Dissenting minister of the age, when Methodism was taking its rise in the Oxford University. Dr. Watts saw the retrogression[71] of the Nonconformists, and had fidelity enough to speak of it.

Further testimony respecting the need of a ministry like that of Whitefield and his friends is hardly needed; but the following, from another class of witnesses, may not be unacceptable.

In a sermon preached before the House of Lords, at the Abbey Church in Westminster, on Friday, December 8, 1721, by the Bishop of Norwich, the following paragraph occurs:—

"Notwithstanding the dismal calamities we have already felt, wickedness still overflows the nation like a mighty deluge, so as to overspread all ranks and orders of men amongst us. Do not our eyes behold it continually, in the open atheism, profaneness, and impiety; in the hypocrisy and dissimulation; in the contempt of God and His holy worship; in the profanation of His holy day; in the bold infidelity, and denying the Lord that bought us; in the dreadful abuse of God's great and glorious name, by the horrid oaths, curses, and imprecations, which are heard continually in our streets, and in the places of concourse and conversation; in the practice of the most filthy and abominable lusts; in the lewdness and luxury; in the oppression and injustice; in the implacable malice and hatred of one towards another; and in our senseless divisions and animosities, without cause and without end, which reign everywhere?"

This was strong language to be used in such a place, and before such an audience; and the following, respecting the literature of the day, by another dignitary of the Church of England, Dr. Stanhope, Dean of Canterbury, and Chaplain to his Majesty, is quite as strong. In a sermon, preached in the parish church of St. Pancras, in 1723, Dean Stanhope speaks of many of the productions of the press, as "those monsters of irreligion and profaneness, of heresy and schism, of sedition and scandal, of malice and detraction, of obscenity and ribaldry, which mercenary wretches, void of shame, published for the sake of a paltry present gain, thereby, not only debauching the principles of the age, but, if such detestable compositions can survive so long, propagating the poison to posterity, and furnishing the devil with nets and snares, for drawing in, and sinking down to hell, numbers of unwary souls, which are yet unborn."

In a sermon, preached in Salisbury Cathedral, in 1745, and published at the request of the mayor and corporation, Bishop Sherlock remarked:—


"Let not me be the accuser of my nation, but let every man recollect what he has heard, and read, and seen within the compass of a few years. Surely the gospel of Christ Jesus was never treated with greater malice and contempt, by Jews or heathens, than it has been in this Christian country. Think not that I am condemning a sober enquiry into the truth of religion; but what shall we say for the undisguised profaneness and blasphemy that have swarmed from the press? Many instances might be given; but one can never be forgotten, where the noblest and most exalted hymn of Christian devotion[82] in the world has been perverted to the highest impiety and blasphemy, that the wickedness or malice of man's heart can conceive. This and other crimes are indeed chargeable on the authors; but how deplorable must the state of the nation be, when men find encouragement to provide such entertainment for the public!

"Look into common life, and see what is become of that sense of religion which once animated the people. When popery was breaking in upon us, our churches were crowded. Is it so now? Is not Sunday become a day of diversion to the great ones, and a day of laziness to the little ones? And has not this been manifestly followed by a great increase of great wickedness and violence among the lower people? Theft and robbery, which used to be secret crimes, now appear armed in our streets; and are supported by numbers strong enough to defy the power of the magistrates."

These are melancholy statements; but, coming from such men, it is impossible to doubt their truthfulness. Speaking generally, the churches of the land were sunk into apathy and worldliness, and the people, with few exceptions, were not only regardless of religion, but saturated with infidelity and wickedness. No wonder that the souls of men like Whitefield were stirred to their deepest depths. The country needed a religious agency which it possessed not; and God, in infinite mercy, supplied the want.

It is time to return to Whitefield. As usual, he shall relate his own story. He was eager to embark for Georgia. He had consulted his friends at Oxford, and had secured their approval. He wished, however, to have the judgment of Dr. Benson, who had ordained him; and, hence, writes as follows:—

"On New Year's Day, 1737, I went to Gloucester, to hear the bishop's opinion, and to take leave of my mother and other relations. His lordship received me, as he always did, like a father, approved of my design, and wished me much success. My own relations, at first, were not so[73] passive. My aged mother wept sore; and others urged what pretty preferment I might have, if I would stay at home. But, at length, they grew more quiet, and, finding me so fixed, gainsayed no longer.

"During my stay here, I began to grow a little popular. God gave me honour for a while, even in my own country. I preached twice on the Sabbaths. Congregations were very large, and the power of God attended the word; and some, I have reason to believe, were truly converted.

"In about three weeks, I went to Bristol, to take leave of some of my relations there. As it was my constant practice, go where I would, to attend on the daily public offices of the Church, I went, the Thursday after my coming, to hear a sermon at St. John's Church. Whilst the psalm was singing, after the prayers, the minister came to my seat, and asked me to give the congregation a sermon. Having my notes about me, I complied. The hearers seemed startled, and, after sermon, enquiry was made, who I was? The next day there was another lecture at St. Stephen's. Many crowded thither in expectation of hearing me again. The lecturer asked me to preach. I again complied; and the alarm given here was so general, that, on the following Lord's-day, many of all denominations were obliged to return from the churches, where I preached, for want of room. Afterwards, I was called by the mayor to preach before him and the corporation. For some time following, I preached all the lectures on week-days, and twice on Sundays, besides visiting the Religious Societies. The word, through the mighty power of God, was sharper than a two-edged sword. The doctrine of the new birth and justification by faith in Jesus Christ (though I was not so clear in it as afterwards) made its way like lightning into the hearers' consciences. The arrows of conviction stuck fast; and my whole time, between one lecture and another, except what was spent in necessary refreshment, was wholly occupied in talking with people under religious concern. Large offers were made me, if I would stay at Bristol. All wondered that I would go to Georgia; and some urged that, if I had a mind to convert Indians, I might go among the Kingswood colliers, and find Indians enough there. But none of these things moved me. Having put my hand to the plough, I was determined, through Divine grace, not to look back.

"During my stay at Bristol, I made a little elopement to Bath, where I was kindly received by a dear friend, the Rev. Mr. Chapman,[83] and some elect and honourable women who befriended the Oxford Methodists. I preached at the Abbey Church twice. The late Dr. Cockman was pleased to thank me for my sermon; and application was made to me by several to print both my discourses."

These facts, so ingenuously and simply related, are marvellous. Here was a young man, fresh from college, recently ordained, without patronage, and belonging to the despised[74] Methodists, literally agitating, what was then, in point of population, the second city in the nation; while, at Bath, England's most fashionable resort, with "Beau" Nash, the accomplished rake, at the head of it, the Methodist stripling was gladly welcomed to the cathedral pulpit! This crisis in Whitefield's history was a dangerous one. The adulations of the multitude might easily have disturbed the religious equilibrium of the young preacher, and, thereby, damaged him for life. He felt his peril, and prayed to be preserved from it. The following, written at the time to his friend Harris, at Gloucester, is worth quoting:—

"Bristol, February 10, 1737.

"Dear Sir,—What shall I say? I cannot be with you this week. Methinks it would be almost sinful to leave Bristol at this critical juncture, there being now a prospect of making a very considerable collection for the poor Americans. The whole city seems to be alarmed. Churches are as full on week-days as they used to be on Sundays, and on Sundays are so full, that many, very many, are obliged to go away, because they cannot come in. Oh pray, dear Mr. Harris, that God would always keep me humble, and fully convinced that I am nothing without Him, and that all the good which is done upon earth, God doeth it Himself. Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, all come to hear the word preached. Sanctify it, Holy Father, to Thy own glory and Thy people's good!"

From Bristol, Whitefield proceeded to Gloucester, Oxford, and London. He writes:—

"It was now about the middle of February. Lent was at hand, and I was obliged to be at Oxford to perform the remainder of my college exercise, which they call Determining. I went through Gloucester, and abode there a week, visiting the prisoners, and encouraging the awakened souls. Having stayed about ten days at the University, I took, as I thought, my last farewell of my dear friends, and came to London in the beginning of March, in order to wait upon James Oglethorp, Esq., and the honourable trustees.[84] The former introduced me to his Grace the present Archbishop of Canterbury;[85] and the Rev. Mr. Arthur Bedford,[86] at the desire of the latter, went with me to the present Bishop of London.[87] Both approved of my going abroad; the former was pleased to say, 'He would take particular notice of such as went to Georgia, if they did not go out of any sinister view.' This put me upon enquiry what were my[75] motives in going? And, after the strictest examination, my conscience answered, 'Not to please any man living upon earth, nor out of any sinister view, but simply to comply with what I believe to be Thy will, O God, and to promote Thy glory, thou great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.'"

Whitefield expected to sail for Georgia at once; but in this he was disappointed. The following letter, addressed "To the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, minister at Savannah," has not before been published:—

"London, March 17, 1737.

"Reverend Sir,—Though I have had thoughts of going to Georgia for above these seven months, yet I never resolved till I received your kind letter.

"I am now in London. My intention in coming hither was to wait on the trustees and the bishop; and both, I believe, will approve of my going. We are not likely to set sail till July. Your brother intends returning with me; and I hope God will sanctify our voyage. I hear of no one yet like-minded, though there is some hope, I believe, of your seeing Mr. Hall. God direct him for the best!'[88]

"Next week, or the week after, I go to Bath, in order to preach a public sermon for the poor Americans. God has inclined the hearts of His people to give me above 200 already, in private charities, and more, I hope, will still be collected.

"Innumerable are the blessings our God has poured on me since I saw you last, and remarkably has He set His blessed seal to my ministry in England; which encourages me to hope He will likewise do so in Georgia.

"I suppose your brother has informed you, rev. sir, how matters stand at Oxon; and, therefore, I need only add, that I believe there will be a remnant of pious students left in the University, who will take root downwards, and bear fruit upwards.

"I could say a great deal more, and would also write dear Mr. Ingham;[89] but I knew not that the ship was to sail to-morrow; and the trustees[90] have engaged me to dine with them; so I must beg leave to subscribe myself, with earnest prayers for your success in every undertaking,

"Rev. sir, your dutiful son and servant,
"George Whitefield.

"P.S.—I salute dear Mr. Ingham and Mr. Delamotte, whom I desire to love in the bowels of Jesus Christ."

Several things are noticeable in this short letter. Except[76] a general allusion to his ministerial success, there is not a word respecting his marvellous popularity in the city of Bristol. He was already collecting money for the needy inhabitants of Georgia, though his autobiography does not mention this. He addresses Wesley scarcely as a familiar friend, but in language strikingly deferential. He expresses his intention to proceed to Bath, an intention which, for the present, had to be abandoned. Hence the following continuation of his autobiography:—

"I continued in London about three weeks, waiting for Mr. Oglethorpe, who expected to sail every day. In this season, I preached more frequently than when there before. Many more came to hear me; and the last Sunday I was in town I read prayers twice, and preached four times. But, finding Mr. Oglethorpe was not likely to go for some time, and having lain under particular obligation to the Rev. Mr. Sampson Harris,[91] minister of Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire, I went down thither, at his request, to supply his place, whilst he came up to dispatch some affairs in town.

"Here was a little sweet Society, who had heard me preach at an adjacent town, and had wrestled with God, if it was His will, to send me amongst them. They received me with joy, and most of the parishioners were very civil, when I came to visit them from house to house. I found them more knowing than I expected. Their pastor had catechized the little ones in the summer season, and expounded the four lessons every Lord's-day in the church. I followed his good example, and found great freedom and assistance given me both in my public and private administrations. Having the use of the parsonage house, I expounded every night. Many that were not parishioners came to hear, and were edified. On Sundays, besides expounding the lessons, catechising and preaching, I repeated my sermons to the Society. Neither church nor house could contain the people that came. I found uncommon manifestations granted me from above. Early in the morning, at noonday, evening, and midnight, nay, all the day long, did the blessed Jesus visit and refresh my heart. Could the trees of a certain wood near Stonehouse speak, they would tell what sweet communion I and some others enjoyed there with the ever blessed God. Sometimes, as I was walking, my soul would make such sallies as though it would go out of the body. At other times, I was so overpowered with a sense of God's infinite majesty, that I was constrained to throw myself prostrate on the ground. One night, when I had been expounding to many people, it happened to lighten exceedingly, and some being afraid to go home, I thought it my duty to accompany them, and improve the occasion, to stir them up to prepare for the coming of the Son of man. In my return to the parsonage, whilst others were rising from their beds, frightened almost to death, I and a poor, but pious, countryman were in[77] the field exulting in our God, and longing for the time when Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in a flame of fire. Every week the congregations increased; and on Ascension-day, when I took my leave, their sighs and tears almost broke my heart."[92]

Such was the active and happy life of Whitefield during the two months that he spent at Stonehouse. In letters to the brother of the clergyman for whom he was officiating, he wrote:—"Be pleased to send me the 'Poor Country Curate,' and Flavel's 'Husbandry Spiritualized.' I know not what to do for want of a clock in the house.[93] The country now looks like a second paradise. This seems the pleasantest place I ever was in. Surely I can never be thankful enough for being sent hither. People flock to hear the word of God from the neighbouring villages, as well as our own. They gladly receive me into their houses. I have no let or hindrance to my ministerial business. Stonehouse people and I agree better and better. I believe we shall part weeping. Your observations on the weather were pertinent and spiritual. Honest James and I were out in the midst of the lightning, and never were more delighted in our lives. May we be as well pleased when the Son of God cometh to judgment!"

On leaving Stonehouse, exultant Whitefield went to Bristol. He writes:—

"The incumbent of Stonehouse being returned from London, and the people of Bristol having given me repeated invitations, since the time of my embarking was deferred, I paid them a second visit on May 23rd. Multitudes came on foot, and many in coaches, a mile without the city, to meet me; and almost all saluted and blessed me as I went along the street.

"Upon my coming here, I received letters from London, informing me that Mr. Oglethorpe would not embark these two months. This gladdened many hearts, though I cannot say that it did mine; for I counted the hours, as it were, till I went abroad. I preached, as usual, about five[78] times a week; but the congregations grew, if possible, larger and larger. It was wonderful to see how the people hung upon the rails of the organ loft, climbed upon the leads of the church, and made the church itself so hot with their breath, that the steam would fall from the pillars like drops of rain. Sometimes, almost as many would go away, for want of room, as came in; and it was with great difficulty that I got into the desk, to read prayers or preach. Persons of all denominations flocked to hear. Persons of all ranks, not only publicly attended my ministry, but gave me private invitations to their houses. A private Society or two were erected. I preached and collected for the poor prisoners in Newgate twice or thrice a week; and many made me large offers if I would not go abroad.

"During my stay here, I paid another visit to Bath, and preached three times in the Abbey Church, and once in Queen's Chapel. People crowded, and were affected as at Bristol; and God stirred up some elect ladies to give upwards of 160 for the poor of Georgia."

At this distance of time, it is impossible to ascertain who were the "elect ladies" here mentioned. Bath was the resort of all kinds of ladies, titled and untitled, converted and unconverted, moral and immoral. How many of Bath's distinguished female visitors flocked to the Abbey Church to hear the young Christian orator, there is no evidence to show; and it is equally difficult to determine whether any of these casual acquaintances became lasting friends. It is said, that the witty and eccentric Lady Townshend, the mother of the first Marquess Townshend and of the famous Charles Townshend, was the first titled lady who extolled Whitefield's preaching;[94] and it is certain that, within a few years after this visit to the city of Bath, his aristocratic hearers and admirers included the Countess of Huntingdon, the Duchess of Ancaster, Lady Cobham, the Duchess of Buckingham, the Duchess of Queensbury, Lady Lisburne, Lady Hinchinbroke, and others, some of whom will be further noticed in succeeding pages.

This second preaching visit to Bristol lasted for a month. His entrance was a spectacle seldom seen; and his departure was quite as marvellous. The youthful evangelist, in continuation of his artlessly told narrative, remarks:—

"June 21st, I took my last farewell at Bristol; but when I came to tell the people, it might be that they would 'see my face no more,' high and low, young and old, burst into such a flood of tears, as I had never seen[79] before. Multitudes, after sermon, followed me home weeping; and, the next day, I was employed from seven in the morning till midnight, in talking and giving spiritual advice to awakened souls.

"About three the next morning, having thrown myself on the bed for an hour or two, I set out for Gloucester, because I heard that a great company on horseback, and in coaches, intended to see me out of town. Some, finding themselves disappointed, followed me thither, where I stayed a few days, and preached to a very crowded auditory. Then I went on to Oxford, where we had, as it were, a general rendezvous of the Methodists; and, finding their interests flourishing, and being impatient to go abroad, I hastened away, and came to London about the end of August."

Thus passed two months more of this strange and eventful year. Meanwhile, Whitefield had issued his first publication. The following advertisement appeared in the Weekly Miscellany, July 22, 1737:—"Speedily will be published (price sixpence, or two guineas per hundred, to those who give them away), The Nature and Necessity of our New Birth in Christ Jesus, in order to Salvation—a Sermon preached in the Church of St. Mary's Redcliffe, in Bristol, by George Whitefield, A.B., of Pembroke College, Oxford. Published at the request of several of the hearers. Printed by C. Rivington, in St. Paul's Churchyard; and sold by Messrs. Harris, Senior and Junior, in Gloucester; Mr. Wilson, in Bristol; and Mr. Leake, in Bath."[95]

The sermon, thus announced, was published on August 5th, 8vo, 28 pp. The text was, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." The four divisions were, 1. What is meant by being in Christ. 2. What we are to understand by being a new creature. 3. Produce arguments to prove why we must be new creatures before we can be in Christ. 4. Draw some inferences from the whole. At the present day, there is nothing in the sermon likely to arrest attention; but, a hundred and thirty years ago, things were different. Then, Whitefield's doctrine, if not new, was startling. It was seldom preached, was hardly understood, and rarely felt.[80] As Whitefield himself observes, "though one of the most fundamental doctrines of our holy religion," "it was so seldom considered, and so little experimentally understood by the generality of professors," that when told "they must be born again, they were ready to cry out, 'How can these things be?'"

The sermon is not remarkable either for its eloquence or depth of thought. It is simply plain, earnest, practical. Two or three extracts, to illustrate Whitefield's style, may be welcome.

Having propounded the doctrine, that being a new creature does not mean "a physical change made in us," but rather an alteration of "the qualities and tempers of our minds," the preacher proceeds,—"As it may be said of a piece of gold that was in the ore, after it has been cleansed, purified, and polished, that it is a new piece of gold; as it may be said of a bright glass that has been covered over with filth, when it is wiped, and so become transparent and clear, that it is a new glass; or, as it might be said of Naaman, when he recovered of his leprosy, and his flesh returned unto him like the flesh of a young child, that he was a new man; so our souls, though still the same as to essence, yet are so purged, purified, and cleansed from their natural dross, filth, and leprosy, by the influences of the Holy Spirit, that they may properly be said to be made anew!'

One of Whitefield's arguments to prove the necessity of the new birth was founded on a consideration of the nature of future happiness. That happiness being spiritual, "unless our carnal minds are changed, and become spiritualized, we cannot be made meet to be partakers of it."

"It is true," he says, "we may flatter ourselves, that, supposing we continue in our natural corrupt estate, and carry all our lusts along with us, we should notwithstanding relish heaven, were God to admit us therein. And so we might, were it a Mahometan paradise, wherein we were to take our full swing in sensual delights. But since its joys are only spiritual, and no unclean thing can possibly enter those blessed mansions, there is an absolute necessity of our being changed, and undergoing a total renovation of our depraved natures, before we can have any taste or relish of[81] those heavenly pleasures. In the very nature of things, unless we have dispositions answerable to the objects that are to entertain us, we can take no manner of complacency in them. For instance, what delight can the most harmonious music afford a deaf man; or what pleasure the most excellent picture give a blind one? Can a tasteless palate relish the richest dainties? or a filthy swine be pleased with a garden of flowers? No! And what reason can be assigned for it? An answer is ready: Because they have no tempers of mind correspondent to what they are to be diverted with. And thus it is with the soul hereafter. For death makes no more alteration in the soul, than as it enlarges its faculties, and makes it capable of receiving deeper impressions either of pleasure or pain. If it delighted to converse with God here, it will be transported with the sight of His glorious majesty hereafter. If it was pleased with the communion of saints on earth, it will be infinitely more so with the communion and society of holy angels, and of the spirits of just men, made perfect, in heaven. But, if the opposite of all this be true, it could not be happy, were God Himself to admit it into the regions of the blessed."

One more extract must suffice. It is taken from the preface to the sermon, and was hardly adapted to gain the young preacher favour among the clergy whom it censures.

"The importunity of friends, the aspersions of enemies, the great scarcity of sermons on this subject, among the divines of our own Church, and not any overweening conceit of the worth of the performance, were, amongst divers others, the reasons that induced me to permit the publication of this very plain discourse. If it be made instrumental towards the convicting of any one sinner, or confirming any one saint, I shall not be solicitous about the censures that may be passed, either on the simplicity of the style, or on the youth of the author.

"I hope it will be permitted me to add my hearty wishes, that my reverend brethren, the ministers of the Church of England, (if such an one as I may be worthy to call them brethren,) would more frequently entertain their people with discourses of this nature, than they commonly do; and that they would not, out of a servile fear of displeasing some particular persons, fail to declare the whole will of God to their respective congregations, nor suffer their people to rest satisfied with the shell and shadow of religion, without acquainting them with the nature and necessity of that inward holiness and vital purity of heart, which their profession obliges them to aspire after, and without which no man living can comfortably see the Lord."


The first sermon which Wesley published, after his conversion, was on the text, "By grace are ye saved, through faith;" its principal subject being "salvation, or justification, by faith only." Whitefield's first sermon is entirely on the new birth. Both the doctrines are of paramount importance; and the preaching of the two combined, created, under God, the Methodism that now exists.

It may be added, that Whitefield's sermon passed through at least three editions before the year of its publication was ended.[96] Other sermons will be mentioned shortly; but, in the meantime, Whitefield's narrative must be resumed. Having come to London "about the end of August," expecting to set sail for Georgia, he says:—

"Every hour now seemed a week, and every week a year, till I was embarked. I knew there was no minister at Frederica, for which place I was appointed, and I did not care to be absent longer from my proper charge. Mr. Oglethorpe's going was still retarded, and I had thought it my duty to go immediately without him, had not he and my other friends urged that the soldiers would shortly embark, and that I had best go over with them. This somewhat pacified me; and, having now taken a final farewell of my friends in the country, I was resolved to abide in London, and give myself wholly to prayer, the study of the Scriptures, and my own heart, till the soldiers should embark.

"The house I lodged at was good old Mr. Hutton's,[97] in College Street, Westminster, where I had the pleasure of seeing my dear friend, Mr. Ingham, lately returned from Georgia; and perceiving him, as I thought, remarkably grown in grace, I longed still more to be sent to the same school, hoping to catch some of that holy flame with which his soul was[83] fired. We freely and solemnly conversed together about my call abroad; and it seemed to both quite clear. Our hearts were knit to each other, like the hearts of David and Jonathan. At midnight, we would rise to sing praises to God, and to intercede for the whole state of Christ's militant Church here on earth.

"With this dear friend, I, one day, paid a visit to a worthy doctor of divinity, near London, who introduced us to some honourable ladies, who delighted in doing good. It being my constant practice to improve my acquaintance with the rich for the benefit of the poor, I recommended two poor clergymen, and another pious person, to their charity. They said little, but, between them, gave, I think, thirty-six guineas. The doctor said,' If you had not spoken for others, you would have had a good deal of that yourself.' God gave me to rejoice that I had nothing, and the poor all. The next day, upon my return to London, in the first letter that I opened, was a bank-note of 10, sent from an unexpected hand as a present to myself.

"About this time, I was prevailed upon to print my sermon on 'The Nature and Necessity of our New Birth in Christ Jesus,' which, under God, began the awakening in London, Bristol, Gloucester, and Gloucestershire. This sermon sold well to persons of all denominations, and was dispersed very much both at home and abroad. Finding another of my sermons was printed, without my leave, and in a very incorrect manner, at Bristol, I was obliged to publish in my own defence; and, afterwards, thought I had a clear call to print any other discourses, though in themselves mean, that I found blessed to the good of souls.

"But to return to my public administrations. Being determined to abide in London till the time of my departure, I followed my usual practice of reading and praying over the word of God upon my knees. Sweet was this retirement, but it was not of long continuance. I was invited to preach at Cripplegate, St. Ann's, and Forster Lane churches, at six on the Lord's-day morning, and to assist in administering the holy sacrament. I embraced the invitations, and so many came, that sometimes we were obliged to consecrate fresh elements two or three times. I also preached at Wapping Chapel, the Tower, Ludgate, Newgate, and many of the churches where weekly lectures were kept up. The congregations continually increased, and generally, on a Lord's-day, I used to preach four times to very large and very affected auditories, besides reading prayers twice or thrice, and walking, perhaps, twelve miles in going backwards and forwards from one church to the other.

"About the latter end of August, finding there were many young men belonging to the" (Religious) "Societies that attended my administrations, I entered into one of their singing societies, hoping to have greater opportunities of doing them good. It answered my design. Our Lord gave me to spiritualize their singing. After they had taught me the gamut, they would gladly hear me teach them some of the mysteries of the new birth. Many sweet nights we spent together in this way; and many of these youths, afterwards, to all appearance, walked with God.

"About the middle of September, my name was first put into the public[84] newspapers. The Sunday before, I was prevailed upon to preach a charity sermon in Wapping Chapel.[98] The congregation was very large, and more was collected than had been for many years upon a like occasion. My friends entreated me to preach another charity sermon, at Sir George Wheeler's Chapel; and, through the importunity of Mr. Habersham (since my faithful assistant in the Orphan House), I agreed to do it. I discoursed upon the widow's giving her two mites. God bowed the hearts of the hearers as the heart of one man. Almost all, as I was told by the collectors, offered most willingly. This still drew on fresh applications. The Sunday following, I preached, in the evening, at St. Swithin's, where 8 was collected, instead of ten shillings. The next morning, I read in one of the newspapers, 'that there was a young gentleman going volunteer to Georgia; that he had preached at St. Swithin's, and collected 8, instead of ten shillings, 3 of which were in halfpence; and that he was to preach next Wednesday before the Societies, at their general quarterly meeting.' This advertisement chagrined me. I immediately sent to the printer, desiring he would put me in his paper no more. His answer was, that 'he was paid for doing it, and that he would not lose two shillings for anybody.' By this means, people's curiosity was stirred up more and more. On the Wednesday evening, Bow Church, in Cheapside, was crowded exceedingly. I preached my sermon on 'Early Piety,' and, at the request of the Societies, printed it.

"Henceforwards, for near three months successively, there was no end of the people flocking to hear the word of God. The churchwardens and managers of charity schools were constantly applying to me to preach for the benefit of the children; and, as I was to embark shortly, they procured the liberty of the churches on the week-days,—a thing never known before. I sometimes had more than a dozen names of different churches, at which I had promised to preach, upon my slate-book at once; and, when I preached, constables were obliged to be placed at the door, to keep the people in order. The sight of the congregations was awful. One might, as it were, walk upon the people's heads; and thousands went away from the largest churches for want of room. They were all attention, and heard like people hearing for eternity.

"I now preached generally nine times a week. The early sacraments were exceeding awful. At Cripplegate, St. Ann's, and Forster Lane, how often have we seen Jesus Christ crucified, and evidently set forth before us! On Sunday mornings, long before day, you might see streets filled with people going to church, with their lanterns in their hands, and hear them conversing about the things of God. Other lecture churches near at hand would be filled with persons who could not come where I was preaching; and those who did come were like persons struck with pointed arrows, or mourning for a firstborn child. People gave so liberally to the charity schools, that this season near,1000 was collected at the several churches, besides many private contributions and subscriptions sent in afterwards. I always preached gratis, and gave myself.


"The blue-coat boys and girls looked upon me as their great benefactor; and, I believe, frequently sent up their infant cries on my behalf. Worthy Mr. Seward, afterwards my dear fellow-traveller, was their hearty friend and advocate. He was concerned in above twenty charity schools, and, as I found afterwards, inserted the paragraph that so chagrined me.

"The tide of popularity now began to run very high. In a short time, I could no longer walk on foot as usual, but was constrained to go in a coach, from place to place, to avoid the hosannas of the multitude. They grew quite extravagant in their applauses; and, had it not been for my compassionate High Priest, popularity would have destroyed me. I used to plead with Him to take me by the hand, and lead me unhurt through this fiery furnace. He heard my request, and gave me to see the vanity of all commendations but His own.

"Not that all spoke well of me. No; as my popularity increased, opposition increased also. At first, many of the clergy were my hearers and admirers; but some soon grew angry, and complaints were made that the churches were so crowded that there was no room for the parishioners, and that the pews were spoiled. Some called me a spiritual pickpocket, and others thought I made use of a kind of charm to get the people's money. A report was spread that the Bishop of London, upon the complaint of the clergy, intended to silence me. I immediately waited upon his lordship, and enquired whether any complaint of this nature had been lodged against me? He answered, 'No.' I asked his lordship whether any objection could be made against my doctrine? He said, 'No; for he knew a clergyman who had heard me preach a plain scriptural sermon.' I asked his lordship whether he would grant me a license? He said, 'I needed none, since I was going to Georgia.' I replied, 'Then your lordship will not forbid me?' He gave me a satisfactory answer, and I took my leave. Soon after this, two clergymen sent for me, and told me they would not let me preach in their pulpits any more, unless I renounced that part of my sermon on regeneration, wherein I wished 'that my brethren would entertain their auditories oftener with discourses upon the new birth.' This I had no freedom to do, and so they continued my opposers.

"What, I believe, irritated some of my enemies the more, was my free conversation with many of the serious Dissenters, who invited me to their houses, and repeatedly told me 'that, if the doctrine of the new birth and justification by faith was preached powerfully in the Church, there would be but few Dissenters in England.' My practice in visiting and associating with them, I thought, was quite agreeable to the word of God. Their conversation was savoury, and I imagined the best way to bring them over was not by bigotry and railing, but by moderation, and love, and undissembled holiness of life. But these reasons were of no avail. One minister called me a pragmatical rascal, and vehemently inveighed against the whole body of Dissenters. This stirred up the people's corruptions; and, having an overweening fondness for me, whenever they came to church and found that I did not preach, some of them would go out again. This spirit I always endeavoured to quell, and made a sermon[86] on purpose from these words, 'Take heed how ye hear.' One time, upon hearing that a churchwarden intended to take 8 a year from his parish minister, because he refused to let me preach his lecture, I composed a sermon upon 'Love your enemies,' and delivered it where I knew the churchwarden would be. It had its desired effect. He came after sermon, and told me he should not resent the injury the doctor had done me, and then thanked me for my care.

"Nor was I without opposition from my friends, who were jealous over me with a godly jealousy. Thousands and thousands came to hear. My sermons were everywhere called for. News came, from time to time, of the springing-up and increase of the seed sown in Bristol, Gloucester, and elsewhere. Large offers were made me, if I would stay in England. And all the opposition I met with, joined with the consciousness of my daily infirmities, was but ballast little enough to keep me from oversetting.

"I had a sweet knot of religious friends, with whom I first attempted to pray extempore. Some time, I think in October, we began to set apart an hour every evening to intercede with the Great Head of the Church to carry on the work begun, and for the circle of our acquaintance, according as we knew their circumstances required. I was their mouth unto God, and He only knows what enlargement I felt in that Divine employ. Once we spent a whole night in prayer and praise; and many a time, at midnight and at one in the morning, after I had been wearied almost to death in preaching, writing, and conversation, and going from place to place, God imparted new life to my soul, and enabled me to intercede with Him for an hour and a half and two hours together. The sweetness of this exercise made me compose my sermon upon Intercession, and I cannot think it presumption to suppose that partly, at least, in answer to prayers then put up by His dear children, the Word, for some years past, has run and been glorified, not only in England, but in many other parts of the world.

"It was now, I think, that I was prevailed on to sit for my picture. The occasion was this. Some ill-minded persons had painted me leaning on a cushion, with a bishop looking very enviously over my shoulder. At the bottom were six lines, in one of which the bishops were styled 'Mitred Drones.' The same person published in the papers that I had sat for it. This I looked upon as a snare of the devil to incense the clergy against me. I consulted friends what to do. They told me I must sit for my picture in my own defence. At the same time, my aged mother laid her commands upon me to do so, urging 'that if I would not let her have the substance, I would leave her at least the shadow.' She also mentioned the painter, and, meeting with him one night, accidentally, I, with great reluctance, complied, and endeavoured, whilst the painter was drawing my face, to employ my time in beseeching the great God, by His Holy Spirit, to paint His blessed image upon my heart.

"Christmas now drew near. Notice was given me that the soldiers were almost ready to embark for Georgia, and I resolved to go with them. The nearer the time of my departure approached, the more affectionate[87] the people grew. At the beginning of Christmas week, I took my leave; but, oh, what groans and sighs were heard when I said, 'Finally, brethren, farewell!' At Great St. Helen's, the cry was amazing. I was nearly half an hour going out to the door. All ranks gave vent to their passions. Thousands and thousands of prayers were put up for me. They would run and stop me in the alleys, hug me in their arms, and follow me with wishful looks. Once in the Christmas before my departure, with many others, I spent a night in prayer and praise, and, in the morning, helped to administer the sacrament at St. Dunstan's, as I used to do on Saints' Days. But such a sacrament I never saw before. The tears of the communicants mingled with the cup, and had not Jesus comforted our hearts, our parting would have almost been unsupportable.

"At length, on December 28, I left London and went on board the Whitaker, after having preached in a good part of the London churches, collected about 1000 for the charity schools, and got upwards of 300 for the poor of Georgia among my friends."[99]

This is a strange, almost romantic story. Remembering Whitefield's youthfulness and the circumstances of his life, it stands unparalleled. The young Methodist stirred one of the greatest cities in the world. John Wesley was now on his way home from Georgia, disappointed, and deplorably depressed, and wrote, during his ocean journey, "I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, who shall convert me?" Twelve months before, Charles Wesley began his "twenty-seventh year in a murmuring, discontented spirit; reading over and over the third of Job;"[100] and during the interval had been worried with all sorts of Georgian vexations. Whitefield all the while was almost as happy as a man could be outside heaven; and, in his pulpit throne, was wielding a power which moved the hearts of thousands. "I suppose," said he to his friend Harris, at Gloucester, "you have heard of my mighty deeds, falsely so called, by reading the newspapers; but I beseech Mr. Raikes, the printer, never to put me into his News upon any such account again. All London is alarmed. Thousands, I hope, are quickened, strengthened, and confirmed by the word preached. God still works more and more by my unworthy ministry. Last week, save one," (November 14, 1737,) "I preached ten[88] times in different churches; and the last week seven; and yesterday four times, and read prayers twice. I now begin to preach charity sermons twice or thrice a week, besides two or three on Sundays; and sixty or seventy pounds are collected weekly for the poor children. Thousands would come in to hear, but cannot." In another letter to the same friend, dated December 23rd, he writes: "On Wednesday night, eighteen of us continued all night in praises, and in praying for you and our other friends. I have preached above a hundred times since I have been here. Last Sunday, at six in the morning, when I gave my farewell, the whole congregation wept and cried aloud. Since that, there is no end of persons coming and telling me what God has done for their souls. The time would fail me, were I to relate how many have been awakened. The great day will discover all. Meanwhile, pray that the goodness of God may make me humble. My farewell sermon will be published shortly, with two or three more."

The charity schools so frequently mentioned in Whitefield's narrative were schools for the education of the children of the poor, to a large extent established by the Religious Societies and by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. In 1744, there were, in London and Westminster, 136 of these schools, containing 5069 scholars.

Whitefield mentions certain "lecture churches" in which he preached. These were churches in which the Religious Societies, founded by Dr. Hornech, Bishop Beveridge, and others, about the year 1677, commenced six o'clock morning services every Sunday, at which ministers, specially engaged for the occasion, preached, and administered the holy communion, their fees being paid out of the sacramental collections, and the overplus of such collections being given for the support of the charity schools just named.[101]

Charles Wesley was in England during the whole of the year of 1737, but was so occupied with Georgian affairs, and with other things, that his opportunities of holding communion with his friend Whitefield were not many. Occasionally, however, they found time to meet, and rejoiced[89] in each other's welfare. Charles writes: "Sunday, October 30th. I waked Jacky Delamotte and Miss Betty at five, and attended them to Forster Lane, where we heard Mr. Whitefield, and communicated together." And again: "Saturday, November 5th. I met and turned back with Betty to hear Mr. Whitefield preach, not with the persuasive words of man's wisdom, but with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power. The churches will not contain the multitudes that throng to hear him."[102]

During the year, Charles had been worried by a young Dutchman of the name of Appee, who had accompanied; him from Georgia, a religious hypocrite, who was afterwards found to be an infidel, a libertine, a liar, and a thief. He had, also, been introduced to Zinzendorf, just arrived from Germany, and had promised to call on him every day. At Zinzendorf's, he had met with Bishop Nitschmann, had been present at a Moravian service, and had "thought himself in a choir of angels." The Bishop of Oxford had received him with the utmost kindness, and had desired him to call on him as often as he could. He had visited his old friends at Oxford, and his brother Samuel at Tiverton. At her desire, he had waited upon Lady Betty Hastings. He had buried his uncle, Matthew Wesley. He had met his mother and his sisters. He had greeted his "old hearty friend, Benjamin Ingham," just returned from Georgia. He had had interviews with Archbishop Potter, and with his Majesty George II. He and William Law had conversed on religious subjects. He had visited the Delamotte family at Blendon. He had had cavils not a few with Oglethorpe and the Georgian Trustees. As late as October 14, he still contemplated a return to Georgia. He preached occasionally. Everywhere his conversation was religious. But, compared with his young friend Whitefield, his was a life of obscurity. He had no preaching popularity, and, judging from present appearances, was not likely to be blessed or cursed with so dangerous a thing.

On the other hand, Whitefield had burst upon the public as a blazing comet. His fame was trumpeted throughout[90] London. Even poets began to make him the subject of their metrical compositions. The following was published in the Gentleman's Magazine for November, 1737:—


"How great, how just thy zeal, advent'rous youth!
To spread, in heathen climes, the light of truth!
Go, loved of heaven! with every grace refined,
Inform, enrapture each dark Indian's mind;
Grateful, as when to realms long hid from day,
The cheerful dawn foreshows the solar ray.
How great thy charity! whose large embrace
Intends th' eternal weal of all thy race;
Prompts thee, the rage of winds and seas to scorn,
T' effect the work for which thy soul was born.
What multitudes, whom Pagan dreams deceive,
Shall, when they hear thy powerful voice, believe!
On Georgia's shore, thy Wesley shall attend,
To hail the wished arrival of his friend;
With joy the promised harvest he surveys,
And to his Lord for faithful lab'rers prays:
Though crowded temples here would plead thy stay,
Yet haste, blest prophet! on thy destined way.
Be gentle, winds! and breathe an easy breeze!
Be clear, ye skies! and smooth, ye flowing seas!
From heaven, ye guardian angels! swift descend,
Delighted his blest mission to attend;
Which shall from Satan's power whole nations free,
While half the world to Jesus bow the knee.
Long as Savannah, peaceful stream! shall glide,
Your worth renowned shall be extended wide;
Children as yet unborn shall bless your lore,
Who thus, to save them, left your native shore.
Th' Apostles thus, with ardent zeal inspired,
To gain all nations for their Lord desired.
They measured seas, a life laborious knew,
And num'rous converts to their Master drew;
Whose alleluias, on th' ethereal plains,
Rise scarce beneath the bright seraphic strains."

Whatever may be the merits of this high-flown poem, the fact that it was inserted in one of the most able and popular periodicals of the day, affords sufficient evidence of the[91] marvellous fame to which the young Methodist preacher had attained. The incense, however, was not unmixed. Whitefield had many friends; but, as was natural, he also had the fortune of having foes. The crowds praised him; but already envious critics stealthily derided him. Some of the clergy murmured discontent. An unknown artist, in his "Mitred Drones," did his best to make Whitefield ridiculous. The Weekly Miscellany, the principal religious newspaper of the period, was getting angry, and already commenced that anti-Methodistic warfare for which it soon became famous. After a long series of leading articles against infidels, the editor began, on October 28, another series against enthusiasts. It is true that Whitefield is not named; but there can be no doubt that he was the chief person meant. Want of space prevents the insertion of more than one extract,—an extract taken from the first article of the series. The redoubtable Mr. Hooker writes:—

"Enthusiasts feel the truth, though they are unable to defend it; and if you ask a reason, they can only give you a rapture. Zeal without knowledge, sound without sense, and a light in themselves which cannot shine forth before men, are the general symptoms of their disorder. Nay, some of them make the absence of reason necessary to the presence of the Spirit; and accordingly their exercises of religion are entirely inconsistent with the least use of their understanding. Their praying in the Spirit is the utmost extravagance of passion, the wildest flights of the imagination; either glaring nonsense, or darkness visible. If in a sermon, for want of clear thinking or expression, there is room left for the imagination to bewilder itself; or the preacher gives a loose to his passions, one while rising with the wildest ecstasy of joy, again sinking into the lowest dejection of sorrow, and venting sighs of the most immoderate grief; now railing with all the bitterness of rage, then melting into the most soft and tender strains of affection; how apt are we, nay, how common is it for the person himself to believe he is under the influence of the Holy Ghost! His not being able to govern his own spirit is thought a proof of his having that of God; as the furor of the Pythian priestess was the sole sign of her inspiration."

Whitefield, however, was not without defenders. In the year 1733, an important pamphlet was published, with the following title, "The Oxford Methodists: being an Account of some Young Gentlemen in that City, in derision so called; setting forth their Rise and Designs. With some occasional Remarks on a Letter inserted in Fog's Journal of December 9,[92] 1732, relating to them. In a Letter from a Gentleman near Oxford to his Friend in London." On the 9th of December, 1737, a second edition of this pamphlet was issued, "with very great alterations and improvements," (8vo, 29 pp.) To this was prefixed a preface of four pages, which, being the first printed[103] address to Whitefield, deserves to be quoted. The writer says:—

"This little piece was originally written to vindicate gentlemen called by the name of Methodists; and, as their conduct has continued ever since irreproachable, and they have steadfastly persevered in the same course which so laudably began some years ago, and yet have still the misfortune to find themselves slightly spoken of by many persons who care not to fall into their measures, which they may possibly think too strict and self-denying, it must not be thought improper to reprint it now. And to whom can it be so fitly addressed as to you, sir, who have passed under that appellation, and who, by your successful preaching, have so well justified the conduct of the gentlemen who are the subject of it?

"It must afford no small pleasure to all serious Christians to find, by your success in the two first cities of the kingdom, that, degenerate as the age is in which we live, a spirit of piety and attention may nevertheless be excited in the minds of the generality; and that without any other novelty than by preaching the plain and obvious doctrines of Christianity in so serious and affecting a manner as shall show the preacher to be in earnest, and himself affected by the doctrines he would instil into others. And, from hence, there is little room to doubt that if the like method was generally taken by our brethren of the clergy, and if the doctrines of the Gospel were not made to give way to the only secondary rules of morality, the like success would attend their labours, and the Christian religion and our sacred function would be freed from that cold neglect, to say no worse, which is now too frequently thrown upon both.

"I have heard it rumoured that you have been refused, by some of our brethren, the use of their pulpits; but, as you have submitted some of your discourses to the public censure, and as I have not heard it once suggested by the most invidious that there is anything contained in them in the least repugnant to the doctrines of Christianity in general, or those of the Established Church in particular, I hope it cannot be true.

"But be this as it may, let me exhort you, sir, not to be discouraged or dismayed at any opposition that you may meet with in your good designs; but preserve (in the midst of the dangerous applauses you meet with from the crowded audiences that everywhere attend your preaching) that meekness and humility which must be inseparable from the doctrines you seek to propagate, and more than any one thing (beside the blessing of God) insure the success of your labours, and demonstrate to the world that you are yourself under the happy influences which you seek to spread; that[93] your actions are regulated by the doctrines you preach; and that God's glory and the religion of the blessed Jesus are the principal—the only motives that animate your conduct and your views.

"This will entitle you to the blessing of God, and the approbation of all good men; and particularly to the hearty good wishes of your affectionate, though unknown brother in our common Lord,

"A. B."

Another fact in Whitefield's narrative deserves attention, namely, his Christian intercourse with Dissenters. In this respect, he was far ahead of his friend Wesley. In Georgia, Wesley was treating Dissenters with the supercilious tyranny of a High Church bigot. He refused them the sacrament, until they first gave up their faith and principles, and, like Richard Turner and his sons, submitted to be re-baptized by him.[104] Respecting John Martin Bolzius, whose beautiful letter he inserted in his Journal, under the date of September, 1749, Wesley himself remarks, "What a truly Christian piety and simplicity breathe in these lines! And yet this very man, when I was at Savannah, did I refuse to admit to the Lord's table, because he was not baptized—that is, not baptized by a minister who had been episcopally ordained." One of the accusations against Wesley, handed to the grand jury at Savannah, was that he "refused the Office of the Dead to such as did not communicate with him;" and among the findings of the jury were the following: that he had refused the sacrament to William Gough, because he had heard William Gough was a Dissenter; and that he would not allow William Aglionby to stand godfather to the child of Henry Marley, because William Aglionby had not been at the communion table with him.

Such was Wesley in Georgia at the very time when Whitefield in London was having "free conversation with many of the serious Dissenters who invited him to their houses." Who can doubt which of the two Oxford Methodists was right? Wesley had more learning than Whitefield, but, for the present, Whitefield had more charity. One had been bred in Epworth parsonage; the other in a public-house. One was encrusted with old and almost inherited prejudices which it was difficult to cast aside; the other had had a training from which such prejudices were almost, perhaps entirely,[94] excluded. Wesley, to the day of his death, professed a conscientious adherence to the Church of England. Whitefield, almost from first to last, made the Dissenters his friends.

During the year 1737, about half a dozen of Whitefield's sermons were published; and from these the reader may obtain a fair idea of the young preacher's sentiments and style. His almost unbounded popularity is the best excuse for their being committed to the press. Perhaps neither time nor study could have ever fitted Whitefield to occupy the theological professor's chair. He had a calling peculiarly his own, and well was it fulfilled. He was incapable of doing the work Wesley did; but there was another kind of work—popular, earnest, loving, powerful preaching—in which he seems to stand unequalled. His printed sermons fail to convey a correct conception of his spoken ones. The preacher's sonorous voice, his intonations, his action, his facial expressions, are things which could not be embodied in his published discourses; and yet, to things like these, the discourses were greatly indebted for their astonishing effects. Whitefield was the greatest gospel orator of the age. He never stretched after profundity of thought. He made no pretensions of excelling in learned biblical exegesis. A "fine, highly ornamental style" he appears to have eschewed as much as Wesley did. He preached simple truth, with all his might; and witnessed success such as is rarely given a minister to see. The Wesleys had one kind of mission; Whitefield had another. The former expounded, enforced, and defended truth; wrote hymns; published grammars, history, philosophy, commentaries, and books of almost all sorts and sizes; organized societies; instituted ministerial synods; and exercised a kind of episcopal jurisdiction over thousands of loving and loyal adherents. Whitefield was an evangelist, a "preacher of the gospel," a man whose chief, if not only, work was to testify "the truth as it is in Jesus," and to convert men "from sin to holiness, and from the power of Satan unto God." Even the ministerial gifts of God are manifold; they always have been so; they always will. At the beginning, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors[95] and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." If not equally important, all are needed, all are useful, and none must be despised. "The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you." Such a contempt is an injustice to the ministers themselves, and a sin against God who gives them.

Rightly to appreciate Whitefield's pulpit power, the reader of his published sermons must not only ponder what he said, but make an effort to imagine how he said it. With such a proviso, let him read the following extracts from sermons preached and published by the youthful evangelist in the year 1737, and at the commencement of 1738. One of these sermons—on the new birth—has been already noticed. Besides this, there were eight others.[105]

1. "The Nature and Necessity of Society in general, and of Religious Society in particular. Preached in the Parish Church of St. Nicholas in Bristol, and before the Religious Societies, at one of their General Quarterly Meetings in Bow Church, London, in the year 1737."[106] (8vo, 30 pp.)

In a preface, addressed "to the members of every Religious Society in and about the Cities of Bristol, London, and Westminster," Whitefield says, he had not the least intention to let any other of his "discourses see the light," besides the one already printed; but some of his "misguided Bristol friends" had already published "a very incorrect transcript" of this, and had sold nearly four hundred copies before he could stop the circulation. The text of the sermon is Ecclesiastes iv. 9—12. One short extract must suffice. Having used various arguments in recommending Christian fellowship, he proceeds to deduce inferences from what had been advanced, and says, almost prophetically:—

"If the advantages of religious society are so many and so great, then it is the duty of every Christian to establish and promote Societies of this[96] nature. And I believe we may venture to affirm that, if ever the spirit of true Christianity is revived in the world, it must be brought about by some such means as this" (p. 26).

When these words were uttered, little did Whitefield think that the Oxford Methodists would be the means of forming and establishing such Societies, by thousands, in all quarters of the globe.

2. "The Almost Christian: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. John, Wapping. Published at the desire of the hearers." (8vo, 27 pp.) Text, Acts xxvi. 28. Two extracts from this sermon may be welcome:—

"One reason why so many are only almost Christians is, because they set out with false notions of religion. Though they live in a Christian country, they know not what Christianity is. Some place religion in being of this or that communion; more in morality; most in a round of duties; and few, very few, acknowledge it to be, what it really is, a thorough inward change of nature, a divine life, a vital participation of Jesus Christ, an union of the soul with God. Hence, it happens that so many, even of the most knowing professors, when you converse with them concerning the essence, the life, the soul of religion, I mean our new birth in Jesus Christ, confess themselves quite ignorant of the matter, and cry out with Nicodemus, How can this thing be?" (p. 12.)

"An almost Christian is one of the most hurtful creatures in the world. He is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is one of those false prophets, of whom our blessed Lord bids us beware, who would persuade men that the way to heaven is broader than it really is; and, thereby, enter not into the kingdom of God themselves, and those that are entering in they hinder. These, these are the men who turn the world into a lukewarm, Laodicean spirit; who hang out false lights, and so shipwreck unthinking benighted souls in their voyage to the haven where they would be. These are they that are greater enemies to the cross of Christ than infidels themselves; for, of an unbeliever every one will be aware; but an almost Christian, through his subtle hypocrisy, draws away many after him, and therefore must expect to receive the greater damnation" (p. 22).

This was plain speaking; but who will say that it was not needed?

3. "The Benefits of an Early Piety: A Sermon preached at Bow Church, London. Before the Religious Societies, at one of their Quarterly Meetings, on Wednesday, September 28, 1737. Published at the request of several of the hearers." (8vo, 26 pp.) Text, Ecclesiastes xii. 12.[107]


The following extract enunciates a doctrine, on which, in after years, Whitefield and his friend Wesley differed:—

"If pure religion and undefiled consists in the total renewal of our corrupted natures, then it is not only a work of difficulty, but of time; for, as the old was not, so neither is the new creation completed in a day. No; good men know by experience, that it is a long while before old things can pass away, and all things become new in them. The strong man armed has gotten too great possession of their hearts to be quickly driven out, and they are obliged to combat many a weary hour before their corruptions be wholly taken from them. Nay, they find their whole lives short enough to perfect the work of regeneration, and never expect to say, It is finished, till, with their blessed Master, they bow down their heads, and give up the ghost" (p. 8).

This was Whitefield's theology, but not Wesley's. Whitefield overlooks the all-sufficiency of the Divine Spirit, and speaks as though human corruptions are to be destroyed solely by human endeavours. If this assumption were correct, no one would doubt his doctrine that the entire sanctification of the soul is impossible previous to the hour of death. Wesley taught his people to sing—

"I want Thy life, Thy purity,
Thy righteousness, brought in;
I ask, desire, and trust in Thee,
To be redeemed from sin.
Saviour, to Thee my soul looks up,
My present Saviour Thou!
In all the confidence of hope,
I claim the blessing now.
'Tis done: Thou dost this moment save,
With full salvation bless;
Redemption through Thy blood I have,
And spotless love and peace."

4. "The Great Duty of Family Religion: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Vedast, Foster Lane. Published at the desire of the hearers." (8vo, 25 pp.) Text, Joshua xxiv. 15.

One extract will be sufficient to exhibit the young preacher's earnestness and fidelity:—

"Fifthly and lastly. If neither gratitude to God, love to your children, common justice to your servants, nor even that most prevailing motive, self-interest, will excite; yet let a consideration of the terrors of the Lord[98] persuade you to put in practice the pious resolution in the text. Remember, the time will come, and that perhaps very shortly, when we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, where we must give a solemn and strict account how we have had our conversation, in our respective families, in this world. How will you endure to see your children and servants (who ought to be your joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ) coming out as so many swift witnesses against you; cursing the father that begat them, the womb that bare them, the paps which they have sucked, and the day they ever entered into your houses? Think you not, the damnation which men must endure for their own sins will be sufficient, that they need load themselves with the additional guilt of being accessory to the damnation of others also? Oh, consider this, all ye that forget to serve the Lord with your respective households, lest He pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you" (p. 23).

5. "The Nature and Necessity of Self-Denial: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Andrew, Holborn, on Sunday, October 9, 1737. Published at the request of several who heard it." (8vo, 26 pp.) Text, Luke ix. 23.

The following extract is thoroughly Whitefieldian:—

"Thirdly, think often on the pains of hell. Consider whether it is not better to cut off a right hand or foot, and pluck out a right eye, if they offend us, or cause us to sin, rather than to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Think how many thousands there are now reserved, with damned spirits, in chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, for not complying with the precept in the text. And think withal that this, this must be our own case shortly, unless we are wise in time, and submit to those easy conditions our Saviour has prescribed us in order to avoid it. Think you, they now imagine Jesus Christ to be a hard master; or, rather think you not, they would give ten thousand times ten thousand worlds, could they but return to life again, and take Christ's easy yoke upon them? And can we dwell with everlasting burnings more than they? If we cannot bear this precept, how shall we bear the irrevocable sentence, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'?

"Lastly, often meditate on the joys of heaven. Think, think with what unspeakable glory those happy souls are now encircled, who, when on earth, were called to deny themselves, and were not disobedient to the call. Hark! Methinks I hear them chanting their everlasting hallelujahs, and spending an eternal day in echoing triumphant songs of joy. And do you not long, my brethren, to join this heavenly choir? Do not your hearts burn within you? As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, do not your souls so long after the blessed company of these sons of God? Behold, then, a heavenly ladder reached down to you, by which you may climb to this holy hill. If any man will come after them, let him deny himself, and follow them. By this we, even we,[99] may be lifted up into the same blissful regions, there to enjoy an eternal rest with the people of God, and join with them in singing doxologies and songs of praise to the everlasting, blessed, all-glorious, most adorable Trinity, for ever and ever" (p. 26).

6. "Of Justification by Christ: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Antholin," etc. (8vo, 26 pp.) Text, "But ye are justified." One extract must suffice. Having stated that "we all stand in need of being justified, because we are all chargeable with original sin," Whitefield says:—

"I have been, the more particular in treating of this point, because it is the very foundation of the Christian religion; for I am verily persuaded that it is nothing but a want of being well grounded in the doctrine of original sin, and of the helpless, nay, I may say damnable, condition each of us comes into the world in, that makes so many who call themselves Christians so very lukewarm in their love to Jesus Christ. It is this, and I could almost say this only, that makes infidelity abound among us. We are mistaken if we imagine that men commence or continue infidels, and set up corrupted reason in opposition to revelation, merely for want of evidence. No, it is only for want of an humble mind, of a sense of their original depravity, and an unwillingness to own themselves so depraved, that makes them so obstinately shut their eyes against the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Were they but once pricked to the heart with a due and lively sense of their natural corruption and liableness to condemnation, we should have them no more scoffing at Divine revelation, and looking on it as an idle tale; but they would cry out with convicted Paul, 'Lord, what wouldest Thou have me to do?' or, with the trembling jailor, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?'" (p. 10.)

7. "The Heinous Sin of Profane Cursing and Swearing: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey"[108] (8vo, 18 pp.) Text, Matthew v. 34. Whitefield's four divisions are—

"I. The crime of profane swearing is highly aggravated, because there is no temptation in nature to this sin, nor does the commission of it afford the offender the least pleasure or satisfaction. II. Because it is a sin which may be so often repeated. III. Because it hardens infidels against the Christian religion, and must give offence, and occasion much sorrow and concern, to every true disciple of Jesus Christ. IV. Because it is an extremity of sin, which can only be matched in hell."


One of the preacher's inferences is as follows:—

"If these things be so, and the sin of profane swearing is so exceeding sinful, what shall we say to the unhappy men, who think it not only allowable, but fashionable and polite, to take the name of God in vain; who imagine that swearing makes them look big among their companions; and really think it a piece of honour to abound in it? Alas! little do they think that such behaviour argues the greatest degeneracy of mind and foolhardiness. This is what they presume not to do in other cases of less danger. They dare not revile a general at the head of his army. And is the Almighty God, the great Jehovah, the everlasting King, who can consume them with the breath of His nostrils, and frown them into hell in an instant; is He, I say, the only contemptible being that may be provoked without fear, and offended without punishment? No. Though God bear long, He will not bear always. The time will come when God will vindicate His injured honour, when He will lay bare His almighty arm, and make those wretches feel the eternal smart of His justice, whose power and name they have so often vilified and blasphemed. Alas! what will become of their bravery then? Will they then wantonly sport with the name of their Maker, and call upon the King of all the earth to damn them any more in jest? Their note will then be changed. Indeed, they shall call, but it will be for 'the rocks to fall on them, and the hills to cover them, from the wrath of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the Lamb for ever.' Time was when they prayed for damnation both for themselves and others; and now they will find their prayers answered. 'They delighted in cursing, therefore shall it happen unto them; they loved not blessing, therefore shall it be far from them; they clothed themselves with cursing like as with a garment, and it shall come into their bowels like water, and like oil into their bones'" (p. 16).

8. "Intercession every Christian's Duty: A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of Great St. Helen, on Tuesday, December 27, 1737. Published at the particular request of the hearers." (8vo, 26 pp.) Text, "Brethren, pray for us."

Whitefield was induced to write this sermon by the remarkable blessings he derived from the intercessory meetings he commenced in the month of October; and he now preached it on the day before that on which he left London for Savannah. It contains one sentiment too startling to be omitted:—

"To stir you up," cried the young, impassioned preacher, "to stir you up yet further to this godlike exercise of intercession, consider that, in all probability, it is the frequent employment even of the glorified saints. Though they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, and restored to the glorious liberty of the sons of God, yet, as their happiness cannot be[101] perfectly consummated till the resurrection of the last day, when all their brethren will be glorified with them, we cannot but think they are often importunate in beseeching our heavenly Father shortly to accomplish the number of His elect, and to hasten His kingdom. And shall not we, who are on earth, be often exercised in this Divine employ with the glorious company of 'the spirits of just men made perfect'?" (p. 18.)

The reader will deal with this opinion as he thinks proper; space will only permit the following further extract from this first farewell sermon of the great preacher:—

"You, amongst whom I have now been preaching, in all probability, will see me no more. I am going from you (I trust under the conduct of God's most Holy Spirit), knowing not what shall befall me. I need, therefore, your most importunate intercessions, that nothing may move me from my duty, and that I may not count even my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Whilst I have been here, to the best of my knowledge, I have not failed to declare unto you the whole will of God; and, though my preaching may have been a 'savour of death unto death' to some, yet I trust it has been also a 'savour of life unto life' to others. The many unmerited kindnesses I have received from you will not suffer me to forget you. Whilst the winds and storms are blowing over me, unto the Lord will I make my supplication for you. In a little while, 'we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,' where I must give a strict account of the doctrine I have preached, and you of your improvement under it. Oh, may I never be called as a witness against any of those for whose salvation I have sincerely, though too faintly, longed and laboured! It is true, I have been censured by some, as acting from sinister and selfish views; but it is a small matter with me to be judged by man's judgment. I hope my eye is single, but I beseech you, brethren, pray that it may be more so, and that I may increase in the knowledge and love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And now, brethren, what shall I say more? I beseech you, as my last request, 'Obey them that have the rule over you in the Lord;' and be always ready to attend on their ministry, as it is your bounden duty. Think not that I desire to have myself exalted at the expense of another's character; but rather think this, Not to have any man's person too much in admiration, but esteem all your ministers highly in love, as they justly deserve, for their work's sake" (p. 25).

Thus ended Whitefield's ministry in London, in the year 1737. The biographer of James Hutton says, "Whitefield was young and modest, but an earnest preacher. He said little, however, of justification through the Saviour, but forcibly insisted on the necessity of being born again. In this way, he arrested the attention of many, particularly of[102] the young, and led them to seek the salvation of their souls. Age 22 They fasted, they wept, and they strove; but how salvation was to be effected they knew not."[109]

This is a somewhat startling statement, and yet there is truth in it. It is an undeniable fact, that, in the nine sermons already mentioned, there is scarcely a single trace of the doctrine of justification by faith only. This is one of the great doctrines of the Word of God. It was pre-eminently one of the doctrines of Luther and of the Reformation. In 1739, it was the doctrine that created the Methodism that now exists; but, evidently, it was not as yet a doctrine Whitefield preached. After all that has been said, it is difficult to account for this; but, at the same time, it is impossible to deny it. Whitefield learnt the doctrine soon afterwards; and, to the end of life, faithfully proclaimed it.

Another point deserves attention. Except, perhaps, the once uttered opinion that sin cannot be destroyed previous to the hour of death, there is not the least allusion, in any of the nine sermons, from which extracts have been given, to any of the Calvinian doctrines with respect to which Whitefield afterwards differed from his friend Wesley. These were dogmas which he had yet to learn. He found them not in the school of the Oxford Methodists, but among the Presbyterians and Independents of America.

The quotations from his sermons may seem numerous, and, to some readers, may be tedious; but, if it be a fact, as it unquestionably is, that Whitefield is famous chiefly as a preacher, it is important to be able to form an idea of the style and spirit of his preaching in this the first year of his marvellously popular and powerful ministry. It is hoped that, in this respect, the foregoing extracts will be found useful. His voice, his intonation, and his pulpit action cannot be put in type; but the reader may easily ascertain what were his leading sentiments, and what the fidelity, zeal, simplicity, and earnestness that marked his preaching.

One more fact must be noticed. James Hutton, the great Moravian, was Whitefield's publisher, but nearly all the sermons already mentioned issued from the press of the most[103] distinguished and learned printer of the age, William Bowyer.

In 1733, John Wesley published "A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week." In 1737, James Hutton, without Wesley's name, and perhaps without Wesley's sanction, printed a third edition of this manual of devotion, and advertised it as "recommended by the Rev. George Whitefield, B.A., of Pembroke College, Oxford." The reason why Hutton's edition is now named is because it contains Wesley's preface, which Wesley himself omitted in the edition of his collected works in 1772, and which it is believed has, with one exception,[110] strangely enough, never been printed since. The preface is a remarkable production, and, as an exposition of the principles of Wesley, Whitefield, and their friends, it is sufficiently important to be transcribed without abridgment. It is as follows:—

"The following Collection of Prayers is designed only for those who, by the mercy of God, have, first, leisure and resolution to set apart at least half an hour twice a day for their private addresses to Him; and, secondly, a sincere reverence for, if not some acquaintance with, the ancient Christian Church. He who has not the former qualifications will take offence at the length; he who has not the latter, at the matter of them.

"The intention of the collector was, first, to have forms of prayer for every day in the week, each of which contained something of deprecation, petition, thanksgiving, and intercession. Secondly, to have such forms for those days which the Christian Church has ever judged peculiarly proper for religious rejoicing, as contained little of deprecation, but were explicit and large in acts of love and thanksgiving. Thirdly, to have such for those days which, from the age of the apostles, have been set apart for religious mourning, as contained little of thanksgiving, but were full and express in acts of contrition and humiliation. Fourthly, to have intercessions every day for all those whom our own Church directs us to remember in our prayers. Fifthly, to comprise in the course of petitions for the week the whole scheme of our Christian duty.

"Whoever follows the direction of our excellent Church, in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, by keeping close to that sense of them which the Catholic Fathers and Ancient Bishops have delivered to succeeding generations, will easily see that the whole system of Christian duty is reducible to these five heads.

"First, the renouncing ourselves. 'If any man will come after me, let him renounce himself, and follow me.' This implies, first, a thorough[104] conviction that we are not our own; that we are not the proprietors of ourselves, or anything we enjoy; that we have no right to dispose of our goods, bodies, souls, or any of the actions or passions of them.' Secondly, a solemn resolution to act suitably to this conviction; not to live to ourselves, nor to pursue our own desires; not to please ourselves, nor to suffer our own will to be any principle of action to us.

"Secondly, such a renunciation of ourselves naturally leads us to the devoting of ourselves to God; as this implies, first, a thorough conviction that we are God's; that He is the proprietor of all we are, and all we have; and that not only by right of creation, but of purchase, for He died for all; and therefore died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him that died for them. Secondly, a solemn resolution to act suitably to this conviction; to live unto God; to 'render unto God the things which are God's,' even all we are, and all we have; to glorify Him in our bodies, and in our spirits, with all the powers, and all the strength of each; and to make His will our sole principle of action.

"Thirdly, self-denial is the immediate consequence of this. For whosoever has determined to live no longer to the desires of men, but to the will of God, will soon find that he cannot be true to his purpose, without denying himself, and taking up his cross daily. He will daily feel some desire which his one principle of action, the will of God, does not require him to indulge. In this, therefore, he must either deny himself, or so far deny the faith. He will daily meet with some means of drawing nearer to God which are unpleasing to flesh and blood. In these, therefore, he must either take up his cross, or so far renounce his Master.

"Fourthly, by a constant exercise of self-denial, the true follower of Christ continually advances in mortification. He is more and more dead to the world, and the things of the world, till at length he can say, with that perfect disciple of his Lord,[111] 'I desire nothing more but God;' or with St. Paul, 'I am crucified unto the world; I am dead with Christ; I live not, but Christ liveth in me.'

"Fifthly, Christ liveth in me. This is the fulfilling of the law, the last stage of Christian holiness. This maketh the man of God perfect. He, being dead to the world, is alive to God. The man, the desire of whose soul is unto His name; who has given Him his whole heart; who delights in Him, and in nothing else but what tends to Him; who, for His sake, burns with love to all mankind; who neither thinks, speaks, nor acts, but to fulfil His will, is on the last round of the ladder to heaven. Grace hath had its full work upon his soul. The next step he takes is into glory.

"May the God of glory give unto us who have not already attained this, neither are already perfect, to do this one thing, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward this mark for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus!


"May He so enlighten our eyes that we may reckon all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord; and so stablish our hearts that we may rejoice to suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that we may win Christ!"

In such a frame of mind and heart, young Whitefield went to Georgia. No wonder that he prospered. Half a dozen men, animated with the spirit breathing through the foregoing preface, would at any time move a nation, stir its churches, and reform its morals. Such men are the gift of God, and are infinitely more valuable than all the gold in the Church's coffers. Never did the world need them more than it needs them now. To have them we must ask for them. "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest."




When Wesley embarked for Georgia, on October 14, 1735, he took with him five hundred and fifty copies of a treatise on the Lord's Supper, and a few other books, "the gift of several Christian friends, for the use of the settlers" in that colony.[112] When Whitefield embarked in 1738, he had a cargo sufficient to excite a smile, and the collection of which must have cost him considerable thought and labour.

Besides the 1000 which he collected for the Charity Schools in London, he also begged, privately among his friends, 306 3s. "for the poor of Georgia." It will be seen that this was a large amount, when it is remembered that money then was four times the value of money now. His subscription list is notable. Excepting half a guinea from Stroud, five shillings from Stonehouse, a guinea and a half from Oxford, and 6 19s. sent by "the Rev. Mr. Thompson, of Cornwall,"[113] the whole of this amount was given by friends in Gloucester, Bath, Bristol, and London. Gloucester contributed upwards of 44, its donors including the Bishop, 20; the Dean, 1 1s.; six clergymen, upwards of 5; Robert Raikes, the reputed founder of Sunday-schools, half a guinea; Lady Selwyn, five guineas; Mr. Harris, jun., Whitefield's correspondent, a guinea; and "Madame Granville," half a guinea.

Bath gave 172 9s. 6d. Of this amount Lady Cox contributed 50; her sister, Mrs. Bridget Bethel, 100; and the celebrated Doctor Cheyne a guinea.


London supplied upwards of 40; Bristol, the lowest of the four cities, 38 10s. 6d., towards which the Dean of Bristol gave three guineas, and three clergymen, Messrs. Smith, Taylor, and Probert, four guineas.

Whitefield's items of disbursement are curious. First of all, there is 50 paid to the trustees of Georgia, "towards building a church at Frederica." Then there are divers payments for books, pamphlets, and tracts, including Flavel's Husbandry, Jenk's Devotion, Norris on Prudence, Wesley's Forms of Prayer, Law's Call and Perfection, the Bishop of the Isle of Man's Catechism, Reeve's Apology, 100 sermons entitled "The Christian Soldier," by Thomas Broughton, the Oxford Methodist, 150 Common Prayer Books, 25 copies of Watts's Songs, 130 Small Chapmen's books, 50 of Bellamy's Christian Schoolmaster, 50 Spelling Books, 6 Nelson's Festivals, 74 Organist Pocket Companions, 200 Country Parson's Advice, Arndt's True Christianity, etc., etc.

The clothing, haberdashery, and other kindred items are far too numerous to be detailed, but include the following: stockings for men, women, boys, and girls, at from ten to fifteen shillings per dozen; shoes for ditto, at from one shilling and eightpence to three shillings and sixpence per pair; caps for boys, about sixpence each; three dozen hats for 2 2s. 6d.; six dozen women's caps, 2 8s. 6d.; twenty-four striped flannel waistcoats, 2 6s.; twenty-six pairs of canvas breeches, 1 8s.; to which must be added, payments for "Holland tapes," "Manchester tapes," "beggars' tapes," "thread," "cotton laces," "yard-wide cottons," "handkerchiefs," and "twelve dozens of shirt buttons."

The hardware list includes the following:—

A dozen tinder boxes50
A dozen tin pots36
Three dozen inkhorns54
Two dozen leather ink-pots20
Four dozen stone seals40
Six claw hammers40
Three dozen gun flints20
A dozen of six case knives50
A gross of sleeve buttons26
Thirteen penknives for Savannah school each06
Sixteen dozens of corks32
Fifty pounds of shot73
A hundredweight and a quarter of shot189
Sixty-four pounds of gunpowder per pound0712


Besides almost endless charges for scissors, buckles, corkscrews, ivory combs, horn combs, spoons, pewter porringers, nails, gouges, gimblets, axes, files, chisels, planes, hatchets, saws, shovels, spades, locks, hinges, and fishing tackle.

The list of drugs, bought and paid for, comprises—rhubarb, senna, manna, Jesuit's bark, pearl-barley, ipecacuanha, sago, saffron, snake-root, gentian-root, cochineal, hartshorn powder, isinglass, etc.

Among the household provisions are the following: a firkin of butter, 1 8s.; a Cheshire cheese, at threepence halfpenny per pound, 10s. 7 12 d.; a Gloucestershire cheese, at threepence farthing, 8s. 6 12 d.; one hundred lemons, bought at Gibraltar, two shillings; two hogsheads of fine white wine, 5 17s. 6d.; three barrels of raisins, 1 19s. 6d.; to which must be added various items of expenditure for cinnamon, sugar, brimstone, cloves, mustard, pepper, oatmeal, oranges, potatoes, onions, and sage.

The stationery account includes four reams of foolscap writing paper, 1 17s. 6d.; half a pound of wafers, one shilling; three thousand second quills, 1 7s.; also sealing-wax, copy-books, lead-pencils, slate-pencils, and ingredients to make ink.

In a long list of items of expenditure, after his arrival at Savannah, are the following: "May 20, thirty pounds of fish, sent to the poor of Highgate and Hampstead, three shillings and sixpence; and 102 ells of Ossenbridge, for the poor for trowsers, shirts, etc., 3 16s. 6d. May 27, eleven pounds of fresh beef for the poor, 2s. 3 12 d.; and a cow and a calf for a poor housekeeper, 2 15s.[114] June 15, a cow and a calf for a poor housekeeper of Highgate, 3. June 17, eight sows with pig, for the poor of Highgate and Hampstead. June 24, two barrels of flour, 432 lb., to set up a poor baker, 2 12s. 10d.; and one barrel of ditto, 210 lb., made into bread, and distributed to the poor of Savannah. July 14, two pounds of tea for Savannah poor, 15s. July 26, thirty-three pounds of fresh beef, 6s. 10 12 d.; and sixteen dozen corks and a brass cock for the poor's wine; and, finally, at sundry times, payments to and for Joseph[109] Husbands, a servant whom the trustees allowed Whitefield to take from England, 9 7s.

These, perhaps somewhat tedious, extracts from Whitefield's "Account of Money received and expended, for the Poor of Georgia," are of some importance. They furnish the names of some of his warm-hearted friends. They supply an idea of market prices in 1737. They evince the forethought and benevolence of the popular preacher, at the early age of twenty-two. They, also, suggest one reason why Whitefield was more successful in Georgia than his friend Wesley. The latter had no friends to purchase gifts for the motley colonists; the former had more than 300 for this important purpose. Wesley's ritualism repelled the people; Whitefield's donatives attracted them.

Wednesday, December 28, 1737, was a notable day in Whitefield's history. First of all, he and his friends had a prayer meeting at the house of Hutton, the Moravian. Then they received the holy sacrament at the Church of St. Dunstan, Fleet Street, close to James Hutton's place of business. After that, another meeting for united prayer was held at the house of Hutton's father in Westminster. In the evening, amid cold wintry darkness, Whitefield left London for Savannah, and, accompanied by four of his faithful friends, arrived at Deptford at ten o'clock. The excitement of the day was not ended even now. Many of his admirers had preceded him on foot, and here, in the house of "a widow woman," from two to three hours more were spent, in singing "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," and in making intercession for their "friends and enemies and all mankind." It was not, however, until five weeks after this that Whitefield sailed from the English coast, and a brief account of the way in which this interval was passed must be inserted. With a heart full of the love of Christ, such a man could not be idle. He must be about his Master's business.

Without entering into details respecting Georgia, it may be shortly stated that, at this particular time, the colony was exceedingly unsettled. On Oglethorpe's return, he reported, to a special meeting of the trustees, held January 19, 1737, that "the people on the frontiers suffered under constant apprehension of invasion, as the insolent demands and[110] threats of the Spanish Commissioner from Cuba virtually amounted to an infraction of the treaty which had been formed with the governor of Florida." Because of this, Oglethorpe urged upon the trustees the necessity of applying to His Majesty for a military force adequate to the defence of Georgia and South Carolina. A petition was presented. The request was granted; and, in the month of June following, the king appointed Oglethorpe general of all his forces in Carolina as well as in Georgia, and likewise commissioned him to raise a regiment. As, however, it was deemed expedient to reinforce Georgia before Oglethorpe's regiment was complete,[115] a small body of troops was sent from England, with as little delay as possible, and others were forwarded from Gibraltar.[116] Whitefield had been presented to the living of Savannah, and had long been eager to be among his parishioners. The embarkation of the troops offered an opportunity; and hence, accompanied by his servant, Joseph Husbands, and his friend and fellow-traveller, James Habersham,[117] he now started to his distant destination, acting as chaplain to the troops, until his arrival among the colonists who had been committed to his care.

A day was spent at Deptford, most of it in prayer and in "chanting and singing psalms," while at night he preached for the first time without the use of notes.

On December 30th, he went on board the Whitaker, at Purfleet, and on the day following began his ministerial services by having public prayers on open deck. After prayers, he preached from the words, "I am determined to know nothing among you save Jesus, Christ and Him crucified." At noon, he went on shore, and, with his London friends, "spent two or three delightful hours in praising and blessing God." While there, a deputation from the clergyman at Gravesend came, requesting him to preach in[111] Gravesend Church; and he heartily complied. Thus was spent the last day of the eventful year 1737.

Next morning, he and his friends rose early, retired to an adjacent hill, and began the year 1738 by holding a prayer meeting in the open air. This, being ended, he was agreeably surprised with the coming of another group of his metropolitan admirers, who had been sailing down the Thames the whole of the winter's night purposely to see him. At ten, they all went to church, Whitefield preached, and the curate, at their request, administered to them the holy sacrament. In the afternoon, he "preached again to a more numerous congregation than in the morning." He adds, "I was pressed to preach a third time at six in the evening. This was a thing entirely new; but, upon the curate's readily complying to lend the pulpit, I looked upon it as a call of Providence, and accordingly read prayers and preached to a crowded auditory; and this I did without notes, having brought but two written sermons with me."

Five days more were spent in the vicinity of Gravesend before the ship set sail; but every day Whitefield went on board and performed his ministerial duties. His floating flock, "exclusive of the ship's company," consisted of above a hundred souls. "The ship," writes Dr. Gillies, "was full of soldiers, and there were near twenty women among them. The captains, both of the soldiers and sailors, with a surgeon and a young cadet, soon gave him to understand that they looked upon him as an impostor, and for a while treated him as such. The first Lord's-day, one of them played on the hautboy, and nothing was to be seen but cards, and little heard but cursing and blasphemy. He began mildly and gently to reprove the officers in the cabin, but this had little effect. 'I could,' he writes, 'do no more for a season than, whilst I was writing, now and then turn my head, by way of reproof, to a lieutenant of the soldiers, who swore as though he was born of a swearing constitution. Now and then he would take the hint, return my nod with, "Doctor, I ask your pardon," and then to his cards and swearing again.'"

On shore at Gravesend, Whitefield greatly enjoyed the[112] society of his London friends, who refused to leave him until the vessel started. They conversed, they prayed, and sung psalms together. Among others, Charles Wesley paid him a flying visit.[118] He writes, "We prayed, sung psalms, commended one another to God, and parted the next morning like Christian brethren."

At length, on January 6, the ship set sail from Gravesend. "God," says Whitefield, "gave me great comfort, and I went between decks, and sat down on the floor, and read Arndt's 'True Christianity.' Part of the time, I stood on deck, and admired the wonders of God in the deep. I read prayers and preached near the stern, having no place for retirement; talked to the sailors on the forecastle; wrote my journal; and climbed up into my cabin bed, where my friend Habersham and I lay as comfortably as on a bed of state."

The ship was detained two days at the Nore, during which the officers began to look upon the young evangelist more favourably, and the captain offered him the use of his own cabin as a place of privacy.[119] On January 9, the ship anchored before Margate. Whitefield went on shore and visited the curate, with whom he conversed on the necessity of preaching the new birth, and the benefit of visiting from house to house. He also gave him Law's "Serious Call," and "Christian Perfection," and other kindred books. Here, likewise, he wrote "to Mr. H." (probably James Hutton, the Moravian) a letter full of catholicity, zeal, and faith, from which the following is an extract:—

"Margate, January 9, 1738.

"Hither the good providence of God has safely brought us. Our ship cast anchor near this town, and my dear fellow-traveller and I came on shore to buy some things we wanted. We have been most courteously treated by the curate of the place, and had some Christian conversation. The winds and storms are blustering about our ears, and teaching us[113] lessons of obedience to Him whom winds and seas obey. Divine goodness attends us wherever we go. Oh, dear sir! who would not leave their few ragged, tattered nets to follow Jesus Christ? The favours I have received from you, and others of your Christian brethren, will never go out of my mind, though you differ from me in some outward modes. I would willingly be of so catholic a spirit as to love the image of my Divine Master wherever I see it. I am far from thinking God's grace is confined to any set of men whatever. No. I know the partition wall is now broken down, and that Jesus Christ came to redeem people out of all nations and languages and tongues; and therefore His benefits are not to be confined to this or that particular set of professors.

"You know, sir, upon what a design I am going, and what a stripling I am for so great a work; but I stand forth as David against Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts. God give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love, and a single eye; and, then let men or devils do their worst."

On January 11, they again set sail, and came to Deal, where there was another detention of three weeks' continuance. Besides attending to his ministerial duties on board, Whitefield every day went on shore. At the first visit to the town, he and Habersham were so delighted with the scenery, that they "expressed their thankfulness in singing psalms all the way." His occupations, both on sea and land, were multifarious. He finished his expositions of the Apostles' Creed. He wrote letters. He taught Latin to his friend Habersham. He tried to save a soldier from punishment, who had been "tied neck and heels" for mutiny. When he entered the ship three weeks ago, he united four couples in the bond of marriage; but already one of the men, a soldier, was tired of his newly-acquired wife, and wanted to be rid of her. He was reminded of his marriage vow, and "he immediately took to her again." Whitefield commenced expounding the Church Catechism. He visited the Amy and the Lightfoot, two accompanying transport ships, also conveying troops to the transatlantic colonies. He preached in the house of his landlady on shore, and the people came in such numbers, that the poor woman feared "the floor would break under them." "All Deal," said Whitefield, "seems to be in a holy flame." A Baptist "teacher" came to discourse with him. He thought the Baptist "was a spiritual man;" but "asked him several questions about taking the ministerial function, without being called as was Aaron." Whitefield[114] writes: "He did not answer to my satisfaction; but we both agreed in this, that unless 'a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'" Several of Whitefield's London friends, hearing of his detention, came to Deal to visit him, and many a happy hour was spent with them in Christian conversation, in prayer, and in singing Psalms. On Sunday, January 29, after his usual service in the ship, he "returned on shore, and, accompanied with a troop of pious friends, hastened to a church about a mile and a half from Deal," where he "preached to a weeping, thronged congregation, at the request of the minister." In the afternoon, he preached at Upper Deal, and writes: "The church was quite crowded, and many went away for want of room; some stood on the leads of the church outside, and looked in at the top windows, and all seemed eager to hear the word of God. In the evening, such numbers came to hear that I was obliged to divide them into four companies, and God enabled me to expound from six till ten."

Next morning, he preached again in the church at Upper Deal, to a crowded audience. Soon after the service ended, the wind changed, and a cry came, "Prepare yourselves for sailing." Whitefield hastened to the shore, the people "running in droves after him." "The sea was boisterous, and the waves rose mountains high;" but, in their boat, Whitefield and Habersham "went on singing psalms and praising God, the waters dashing in their faces all the way."

It is a remarkable fact, that two days after this, while the ship Whitaker was still at anchor, Wesley, at half-past four o'clock in the morning, landed at Deal, on his return from Georgia. Great was his surprise to hear that Whitefield was close at hand; and, still smarting from the wrongs he had suffered at Savannah, he immediately despatched a letter advising the young evangelist to relinquish his mission.[115][120] Whitefield's answer, written on board the Whitaker, was as follows:

"Downs, February 1, 1738.

"I received the news of your arrival (blessed be God!) with the utmost composure, and sent a servant immediately on shore to wait on you, but found that you were gone. Since that, your kind letter has reached me. But I think many reasons may be urged against my coming to London. For, first, I cannot be hid if I come there; and the enemies of the Lord will think I am turning back, and so blaspheme that holy name wherewith I am called. Secondly, I cannot leave the flock committed to my care on shipboard, and perhaps while I am at London the ship may sail. Thirdly, I see no cause for not going forwards to Georgia. Your coming rather confirms (as far as I can see) than disannuls my call. It is not fit the colony should be left without a shepherd. And though they are a stiff-necked and rebellious people, yet as God hath given me the affections of all where I have been, why should I despair of finding His presence in a foreign land?"[121]

Whitefield's answer was worthy of himself. Who can estimate what would have been the consequences of Whitefield's yielding to Wesley's wish? Had he now returned to London, the probability is he would never again have started for America; and, in such a case, many of the brightest chapters of his history could never have been penned. Wesley's advice was natural; but Whitefield's reply was right. Had Wesley known all that had transpired, he would not have given the counsel that he did. Whitefield's services in Georgia were engaged by the Georgian Trustees. He was the bearer of a large number of useful presents, purchased by the money of his friends for the[116] Georgian colonists. He was the recognised chaplain of a ship conveying troops sent for the defence of those distant emigrants. If Whitefield had relinquished his mission, he would have justly inherited indelible disgrace.

On the day after the letter to Wesley was written, the long-detained ship again set sail, and on February 19th arrived at Gibraltar. As usual, Whitefield read prayers, and preached to the soldiers daily. He explained the Catechism to the women, and exhorted them particularly to be obedient to their husbands, "which they had lately been wanting in." At the request of Captain Whiting, he began "to have full public prayers," and to expound the lessons to the officers in the "great cabin." On Wednesday, February 8th, he writes:—

"Had public worship and expounded, as usual, to both my congregations. In the afternoon, I preached and read prayers on open deck, at the captain's desire, who ordered chairs to be brought, and boards put across them for the soldiers to sit upon. My subject was The Eternity of Hell Torments, and I was earnest in delivering it, being desirous that none of my dear hearers should experience them."

This was a fearful topic, in such a place, and before such a congregation; and great must have been the young preacher's courage in selecting it. The sermon was published in the year following, and the ensuing extracts will serve to exhibit Whitefield's boldness in uttering, face to face, sentiments so terrible, to the men and officers with whom he was so closely associated in his floating church.

Having proved his doctrine from Scripture, and answered several objections, Whitefield proceeded:—

"Knowest thou, O worm, what blasphemy thou art guilty of in charging God with injustice? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Wilt thou presume to arraign the Almighty at the bar of thy shallow reason? Hath God said it, and shall He not do it? He hath said it, and let God be true, though every man be a liar. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Assuredly He will. And if sinners will not own His justice in His threatenings here, they will be compelled, ere long, to own and feel them when tormented by Him hereafter. Would we now and then meditate a while by faith on the miseries of the damned, I doubt not we should hear many an unhappy soul venting his fruitless sorrows in some such piteous moans as these: 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of[117] death! O foolish mortal that I was, thus to bring myself into these never-ceasing tortures for the transitory enjoyment of a few short-lived pleasures, which scarcely afforded me any satisfaction, even when I most indulged myself in them! Alas! are these the wages, the effects of sin? Are all the grand deceiver's promises come to this? O damned apostate! First to delude me with pretended promises of happiness, and, after years of drudgery in his service, thus to involve me in eternal woe! Oh that I had never hearkened to his beguiling insinuations! Oh that I had taken up my cross and followed Christ! Oh that I had never ridiculed serious godliness, and condemned the truly pious as too severe, enthusiastic, or superstitious! Alas! these reflections come too late. I have in effect denied the Lord that bought me, and therefore justly am I now denied by Him. But must I live for ever tormented in these flames? Must my body, which not long since lay in state, was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day—must this be here eternally confined and made the mockery of insulting devils? Oh, eternity! That thought fills me with despair—I cannot, will not, yet I must be miserable for ever!'

"But I can no more. These thoughts are too melancholy for me to dwell upon, as well as for you to hear; and God knows, as punishing is His strange work, so denouncing His threatenings is mine. But if the bare mentioning the torments of the damned is so shocking—good God! terrible must the enduring of them be!"

A sermon in such a strain would give offence in many of the costly churches and pretentious chapels of the present day; but it was devoutly listened to on board the Whitaker. Why? Perhaps, one reason may be found in the solemn fact that it is the sovereign prerogative of God, not only to raise up faithful preachers, but, to give ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

For more than a fortnight, Whitefield was detained at Gibraltar, where he received the greatest kindness. Major Sinclair, a gentleman whom he had never seen before, hearing of his arrival, provided him two handsome rooms in a merchant's house,[122] and ministered to his wants. General Columbine and many others treated him with the utmost courtesy. Governor Sabine gave him a general invitation to dine with him every day during his stay, an invitation which was frequently accepted. The governor was an exemplary man, and, except when prevented by ill-health, had not been absent from public prayers for seven years.[118][123] His table was sumptuous; but his guests, officers and others, indulged in no excesses. "We had," says Whitefield, the once Oxford ascetic, "what an Epicurean would call cœna dubia; but the law at the governor's table was the same with that of Ahasuerus, 'No one was compelled;' and all the officers behaved in such a decent manner every time I dined there, that they pleased me very much."[124]

2. T. Cooper, "at the Globe in Paternoster Row," saw it, and printed it, without the writer's knowledge or consent. 3. James Hutton, himself a publisher, was wroth—denounced Cooper's edition as surreptitious, and said the Journal was sent to him (Hutton) to be communicated to Whitefield's friends; "but not to be made public without the advice and correction of certain persons particularly known to himself." 4. Hutton added that, "Whitefield knew himself too well to obtrude his little private concerns upon the world—especially when intermixed with such passages relating to others as none but an unthinking person could judge proper to divulge." 5. Nevertheless, Mr. Cooper having published his surreptitious copy, he (Hutton) "at the earnest solicitation of several of Mr. Whitefield's friends, now determined to print the whole." 6. T. Cooper resented this, and, in the Weekly Miscellany for August 11, 1738, there was an advertisement of Cooper's edition with the following postscript: "Notwithstanding the clamour that has been made about this copy being surreptitious, I can, with the utmost veracity, assure the public that it is genuine to a great degree of exactness; and the advertiser against it is desired to point out, for the notice of the public, any passage, circumstance, or even any word, that has been altered, or which varies from the copy which (he says) he has in his hand, and which he has owned he never designed to have published.—T. C."

It may be added that Hutton's publication went through four editions in 1738. It was issued in 12mo., pp. 70.]

Whitefield often went on board the Whitaker, where he read prayers, and expounded to his military flock. Such, however, had been the result of his labours among them, that, when he was detained on shore, the soldiers had meetings of their own, and read prayers and sang psalms by themselves. The Protestant ministers of Gibraltar received the youthful missionary with the greatest kindness; and, in compliance with their request, and that of the governor,[119] he preached several times in their churches. He writes: "I was asked by Dr. C., in the name of the governor, to preach every Prayer Day whilst I stayed at Gibraltar, which I promised to do." In accordance with this, there are the following entries in his Journal:—

"Feb. 26. Preached in the morning at Gibraltar, before such a congregation of officers and soldiers as I never before saw. The church, though very large, was quite thronged; and God was pleased to shew me that He had given extraordinary success to my sermon.

"March 1. Preached, according to my promise, to a numerous and affected audience of officers, soldiers, etc.

"March 3. About ten, I preached my sermon against Swearing, and made a farewell application to the soldiers who were going to Georgia out of the garrison. The governor had that morning reviewed them; and, as I could not be in the same ship with them, I desired that they might be ordered to come to church, that I might have an opportunity of telling them how to behave in that land which they were going to protect. The colonel and governor most readily consented; there was a most thronged audience, and God was pleased to set His seal to my sermon. Many officers and soldiers wept sorely, and a visible alteration was observed in the garrison for some days after.

"March 5. Went to the church belonging to the garrison; preached to a most thronged audience, and received (what my soul longed after) the sacrament of Christ's most blessed body and blood. Both the generals were there, and near fifty communicants. The weekly collection for the poor was larger than was ever known; and —— was so affected, that he wished himself a despised Methodist. Dined at Governor Sabine's, and, at the request of the inhabitants and gentlemen of the garrison, preached again in the afternoon."

Such extracts are full of interest. The young Methodist chaplain of the Oxford prisoners was now, by request, preaching, with power and success, to crowded military congregations, assembled in the strongest fortress in the world.

These public sermons, however, were but a small part of Whitefield's efforts to benefit and bless the Gibraltar population. Six days after his arrival, he writes:—

"Saturday, Feb. 25. About six this morning, I went with friend Habersham to the church to pray with some devout soldiers, who I heard used to meet there at that time, and with whom my soul was knit immediately. After we had finished our devotion, I found that their Society had been subsisting about twelve years, and that Sergeant B., now amongst them, was the beginner of it. At first, they used to meet in dens, and mountains, and caves in the rocks; but, afterwards, upon their applying[120] for leave to build a little place to retire in, Dr. C. and Governor Sabine gave them the free use of the church, where they constantly met three times a day to pray, read, and sing psalms, and at any other season when they pleased. They have met with contempt, and are now, in derision, called 'The New Lights.' A glorious light they are indeed; for I conversed closely with several of them, and they made me quite ashamed of my little proficiency in the school of Christ. Governor Sabine countenances them much, and has spoken of them to me with respect."

The circumstances which gave birth to this Society of praying soldiers are now unknown; but the existence of such a Society, and its unpretentious meetings, are facts of no ordinary interest and importance. God is not confined to pulpits to carry on His work. In all ages there have been devout fraternities, not recognised by men, but cheered by His countenance and blessing. When Elijah thought himself the only one "faithful among the faithless," God had seven thousand left in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Who, except God Himself, can tell the number of pious brotherhoods now existing in India, China, Japan, and all the world over, bearing a resemblance to the Society of "New Lights," with whom Whitefield so strangely met at the Rock of Gibraltar?

The "New Lights," indeed, were not the only Society of a religious kind in this famous garrison. These were evidently members of the Church of England; but there was another coterie, called, with equal derisiveness, "Dark Lanthorns," who belonged to the Church of Scotland. Whitefield "did not think it agreeable to visit these." Even in his eyes, they were a sort of tabooed Dissenters, with whom it would not be orthodox to mingle; but he "sent them some proper books, had religious talk with several of them, and endeavoured to unite both Societies together."

His relationship with the Episcopal "New Lights" was altogether different. During the nine days after he became acquainted with them, he met them every morning, to pray, to sing psalms, and to expound the daily Lessons. Some of the soldiers often came as early as two o'clock. Pure and precious were these morning meetings. No wonder that Whitefield's ardent "soul was knit" to such early worshippers; and no wonder that, having joined with them in their matin songs, he should also regularly unite in their[121] vesper devotions. The numbers attending, especially at nights, grew into large congregations, including "officers, and honourable women not a few." On Thursday night, March 2, there were above three hundred present; "among whom were many officers, ladies, and Dr. C., the minister of the church himself," who wanted Whitefield, instead of praying and expounding on the floor, to mount the reading desk, where he could be better seen. The next evening, his congregation consisted of above five hundred; and the next after that, of about a thousand. On the last Sunday he spent at Gibraltar, at five o'clock, he had his "morning exposition in the church;" after that, he "went and saw the Roman Catholics at their high mass," and thought there "needed no other argument against Popery than to see the pageantry, superstition, and idolatry of their worship;" at ten, he preached in the church belonging to the garrison, and received the sacrament; in the afternoon, in the same place, he preached again; and "expounded in the evening to above a thousand hearers of all denominations; and went home full of unspeakable comfort," and remarking, "I am never better than when I am on the full stretch for God."

Next morning—his last at Gibraltar—many came to him weeping, telling him what God had done for their souls, and desiring his prayers. Others gave and sent him tokens of their love, as cakes, figs, wine, eggs, and other necessaries for his voyage. Nearly two hundred soldiers, women, and officers accompanied him to the seaside, sorrowing at his departure, and wishing him good luck in the name of the Lord. He was gladly received on board the Whitaker, and at once resumed his duties.

This was a strange episode in the life of the young evangelist. Like his Divine Redeemer, he "increased in favour with God and man." His heart was full of gratitude. In a letter, dated Gibraltar, February 25, 1738," he writes:—

"God has been with us of a truth. He has led us through the sea, as through a wilderness, and brought us to a haven, where I am honoured with many honours. About six o'clock this morning, I went to the church, where was assembled a number of decent soldiers, praying, and singing psalms to Christ as God. They meet constantly three times a day, and I intend henceforward to meet with them. They pray without ceasing, have overcome the world, hate sin, love their enemies and one another.[122] Oh, who would not travel to see how the Spirit of God is moving poor sinners' souls up and down the world! God, I find, has a people everywhere; Christ has a flock, though but a little one, in all places. God be praised that we are of this flock, and that it will be our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom."

On the 7th of March, the Whitaker set sail for Savannah, and, on Sunday, the 7th of May, cast anchor near Tybee Island. During this two months' voyage, the duties of Whitefield's chaplaincy were performed with his usual regularity and zeal. He finished his exposition of the Creed, and then began to expound the Decalogue. Habersham taught the children; and several of the soldiers began learning to read and write. Occasionally, Whitefield visited the Lightfoot and the Amy, two accompanying ships, dined with the officers, dispersed Bibles, Testaments, and Soldiers' Monitors among the men, and, on one occasion, threw overboard their cards. On board the Amy, he preached to above two hundred and twenty hearers; and says, "I married a couple, who did not behave so well as I could wish. The bridegroom laughed several times in the midst, of the solemnity, upon which I shut up my Prayer-book. He began to weep, and I then proceeded, and gave him and the bride a Bible, as the best present I could make them."[125]

On board both the Whitaker and Lightfoot, he preached his sermon against Drunkenness, which was published, as soon as he returned to England, and from which the following extracts are taken. The text was Ephesians v. 6; and the divisions were,—Drunkenness is a heinous sin, because, 1. It is an abuse of God's creatures. 2. By it a man sinneth against his own body. 3. It robs a man of his reason. 4. It is an inlet to, and a forerunner of, many other sins. 5. It separates the Holy Spirit from us. 6. It absolutely unfits a man for the enjoyment of God in heaven, and exposes him to His eternal wrath.

The reader may easily imagine that, under such divisions,[123] the bold and ardent preacher would find employment for strong and scathing language.

"Flee drunkenness!" he cried, "flee drunkenness, since he that committeth that crime, sinneth against his own body. Who hath pains in the head? Who hath rottenness in the bones? Who hath redness of eyes? He that tarries long at the wine; he that rises early to seek new wine. How many walking skeletons have you seen, whose bodies were once exceeding fair to look upon; but, by this sin of drinking, how has their beauty departed from them, as though God intended to set them up, as He did Lot's wife, for monuments of His justice?

"Think ye, O ye drunkards, that you shall be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light? No: as by drunkenness you have made your hearts cages of unclean birds, with unclean spirits must you dwell. A burning Tophet, kindled by God's wrath, is prepared for your reception, where you must suffer the vengeance of an eternal fire, and in vain cry out for a drop of water to cool your tongues. Indeed, you shall drink, but it shall be the cup of God's fury. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that, as surely as the Lord rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom, so surely will He cast you into a lake of fire and brimstone, when He shall come to take vengeance on them that know not God, and have not obeyed the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, I have told you before. Remember you were this day informed what the end of drunkenness would be. And I summon you, in the name of that God whom I serve, to meet me at the judgment-seat of Christ, that you may acquit both my Master and me; and confess, with your own mouths, that your damnation was of yourselves, and that we were freed from the blood of you all."

This was hard hitting, and yet Whitefield seemed to make no enemies, but, by his fidelity, increased the number of his friends. "Colonel Cochrane was extremely civil; and such was the change upon Captain Mackay, that he desired Whitefield not to give himself the trouble of expounding and praying in the cabin and between decks; for he would order a drum to be beat morning and evening, and himself would attend with the soldiers on deck." Henceforward, Whitefield preached with a captain on each side of him, and soldiers round about him; the two other ships' companies often drawing near, and joining in the worship of the great Creator. Once, after the public sermon, Captain Mackay desired the soldiers to stop, whilst he informed them that, to his great shame, he had been a notorious swearer, but, by the instrumentality of that gentleman, pointing to Whitefield, he had abandoned the sin, and wished them all to copy his[124] example.[126] After the sermon on drunkenness, also, the captain seconded the effort of the chaplain, and "exhorted the men to give good heed to the things that had been spoken." A fever breaking out, Whitefield, "for many days and nights, visited between twenty and thirty sick persons, crawling between decks upon his knees, administering medicines and cordials," and giving suitable advice. The result of the whole was a marvellous reformation. One of the sailors, who had been a notorious scoffer, sent for Whitefield in bitter agony, and loudly lamented his past wickedness. The cadet, who had received a university education, and who, the first Sunday after sailing from the Thames, amused himself and others by playing on the hautboy, told Whitefield the history of his life, and expressed his intention to devote himself to the service of the Church.[127] Concerning the soldiers, Whitefield says: "I have no reason to complain of them, for they come very regularly twice a day to prayer, and an oath seems to be a strange thing amongst most of them. Many marks of a sound conversion appear in several aboard, and we live in perfect harmony and peace, loving and beloved of one another. In the great cabin, we talk of little else but God and Christ."

The voyage was long, and not without its incidents, in some of which Whitefield himself was prominent. For instance, the captain's negro servant died, was wrapped in a hammock, and thrown into the sea; but, because the poor creature was not baptized, Whitefield was Churchman enough to say, "I could not read the office over him." On the other hand, a baptized soldier "killed himself by drinking," and Whitefield writes: "I buried him in time of public prayers, chose proper lessons, and gave the soldiers a suitable exhortation." A little boy, four years old, refused to repeat the Lord's Prayer. The young clergyman forced him upon his knees, and gave him "several blows." The urchin then went through the Prayer, and Whitefield rewarded him with figs. Another boy behaved improperly at public worship. Captain Mackay handed over the culprit to the chaplain to be punished. Whitefield ordered him to be tied with[125] cords, and to be kept tied till he learned, and could repeat, the fifty-first Psalm from memory. The lad performed his penance, repeated the Psalm with great solemnity, "in the midst of the congregation," and was then released from his ignominious bonds.

Towards the end of the voyage, Whitefield was seized with the fever, from which all in the ship, except three or four, had suffered. Habersham and another friend sat up with him every night. He was bled thrice, was blistered, and had an emetic. Gradually recovering from this serious illness, he reached Savannah on Sunday evening, May 7th, more than four months after he had parted with his friends in London.

On the day before his arrival, he wrote:—

"God has been pleased graciously to visit me with a violent fever, which He so sweetened by Divine consolations, that I was enabled to rejoice and sing in the midst of it. I was, as I thought, on the brink of eternity. I had heaven within me. I thought of nothing in this world. I earnestly desired to be dissolved and go to Christ; but God was pleased to order it otherwise, and I am resigned, though I can scarce be reconciled, to come back again into this vale of misery. I had the heavenly Canaan in full view, and hoped I was going to take possession of it; but God saw I was not yet ripe for glory, and, therefore, in mercy spared me, that I may recover my spiritual strength before I go hence, and am no more seen."

One more fact respecting Whitefield's voyage to Savannah must be added. Though extremely weak, and still suffering from his recent fever, the young missionary was unwilling to leave the ship, where he had spent four happy months, without preaching a farewell sermon. His text (Psalm cvii. 30, 31) was most appropriate, and so also was his sermon, which was published by James Hutton, a few months afterwards. (8vo., 19 pp.) "God forbid," cried the ardent preacher, standing within the shade of the outspread sails of the ship Whitaker, lying at anchor at the mouth of Savannah river, on Sunday, May 7, 1738:—

"God forbid that any of those should ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, amongst whom I have for these four months been preaching the Gospel of Christ; and yet thus must it be, if you do not improve the Divine mercies; and, instead of your being my crown of rejoicing in the[126] day of our Lord Jesus Christ, I must appear as a swift witness against you.

"But, brethren, I am persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though I thus speak. Blessed be God! some marks of a partial reformation, at least, have been visible amongst all you that are soldiers. My weak, though sincere, endeavours to build you up in the knowledge and fear of God have not been altogether vain. Swearing, I hope, is in a great measure abated with you; and God, I trust, has blessed His late visitations by making them the means of awakening your consciences to a more solicitous enquiry about the things which belong to your everlasting peace. Consider, my good friends, you are now, as it were, entering on a new world, where you will be surrounded by multitudes of heathens; and, if you take not heed to 'have your conversation honest among them, and to walk worthy the holy vocation wherewith you are called,' you will act the hellish part of Herod's soldiers, and cause Christ's religion, as they did His person, to be had in derision of those who are round about you. I cannot say I have discharged my duty to you as I ought. No; I am sensible of many faults, for which I have not failed to humble myself in secret before God. As for your military affairs, I have nothing to do with them. Fear God, and you must honour the king. Nor am I better acquainted with the nature of that land which you are come to protect; only this I may venture to affirm in general, that you must necessarily expect, upon your arrival at a new colony, to meet with many difficulties. But your very profession teaches you to endure hardship. Be not, therefore, faint-hearted, but quit yourselves like men, and be strong.

"As I have spoken to you, I hope your wives also will suffer the word of exhortation. Your behaviour on shipboard, especially the first part of the voyage, I choose to throw a cloak over; for, to use the mildest term, it was not such as became the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, of late, blessed be God! you have taken more heed to your ways, and some of you have walked all the while as became women professing godliness. Let those accept my hearty thanks; and permit me to entreat you all in general, as you are all now married, to remember the solemn vow you made at your entrance into the marriage state; and see that you be subject to your own husbands, in every lawful thing. Beg of God to keep the door of your lips, that you offend not with your tongues; and walk in love, that your prayers be not hindered. You who have children, let it be your chief concern to breed them up in the nurture and monition of the Lord. And live all of you so holy and unblamable, that you may not so much as be suspected to be unchaste; and, as some of you have imitated Mary Magdalene in her sin, strive to imitate her also in her repentance."

After this manly address to the soldiers and their wives, Whitefield proceeded, in the same strain, to speak to the sailors; and then thus addressed the two captains, naval and military, who were present:—


"I am positive neither you sailors nor the soldiers have wanted, nor will want, any manner of encouragement to piety and holiness of living from those two persons who have here the government over you; for they have been such helps to me in my ministry, and have so readily concurred in everything for your good, that they may justly demand a public acknowledgment of thanks both from you and me.

"Permit me, then, my honoured friends, in the name of both your people, to return you hearty thanks for the care and tenderness you have expressed for the welfare of their better parts. As for the private favours you have shewn to myself, I hope so deep a sense of them is imprinted on my heart, that I shall plead them before God in prayer as long as I shall live. But I have still stronger obligations to intercede on your behalf; for God—for ever adored be His free grace in Christ Jesus!—has set His seal to my ministry in your hearts. Some pangs of the new birth I have observed to come upon you; and God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, by ceasing to pray that the good work begun in you may be carried on till the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"And now, brethren, into God's hands I commend your spirits. Excuse my detaining you so long. Perhaps it is the last time I shall speak to you. My heart is full, and, out of the abundance of it, I could continue my discourse till midnight. But I must away to your new world. May God give you new hearts, and enable you to put in practice what you have heard from time to time to be your duty. Then God will so bless you, that you will 'build cities to dwell in;' then will you sow your lands and plant vineyards, which will 'yield you fruits of increase.' Then your 'oxen shall be strong to labour, there shall be no leading into captivity, and no complaining in your streets; then shall your sons grow up as the young plants, and your daughters be as the polished corners of the temple; then shall your garners be full and plenteous with all manner of store, and your sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in your streets.' In short, then shall the Lord be your God; and, as surely as He hath now brought us to His haven, so surely, after we have passed through the storms and tempests of this troublesome world, will He bring us to the haven of eternal rest, where we shall have nothing to do but to praise Him for ever for His goodness, and declare, in never-ceasing songs of praise, the wonders he has done for us, and all the other sons of men."

This was a noble finish of Whitefield's shipboard ministry. No wonder that the juvenile preacher was loved and followed.

Whitefield, thousands of miles from home, now stood on the shores of the immense continent of America—a continent extending from the north pole to the fifty-seventh degree of south latitude,—upwards of eight thousand miles in length—washed on the east by the great Atlantic Ocean, which divides it from Europe and Africa, and on the west by the Pacific, by which it is disjoined from Asia,—in reality, two[128] vast continents, the one north, the other south, united by Mexico.

At the time of Whitefield's arrival, the whole of South America (excepting Brazil, which belonged to Portugal) and all that part of North America which forms the isthmus of Mexico, and the country extending as far as Florida, was possessed by Spain. English territory reached from Hudson's Bay, all along the eastern shore to the thirtieth degree of north latitude. The French had Canada, and claimed the country lying between there and the Spanish settlements to the west. A description of this enormous region of mountains, prairies, swamps, forests, lakes and rivers, with every variety of climate and production that the earth affords, cannot be here attempted.

Many immense tracts of country could scarcely be said to have any population whatever; and yet there was an almost countless number of Indian tribes, differing but little from each other in their usages and manners, and forming a striking picture of human antiquity. Most of them were tall and strong, their countenances fierce, and their skins brown, and not improved by the constant use of rude cosmetics. The only occupations of the men were war and hunting. Agriculture was left to the women. Most of their time, however, was spent in sleeping, loitering, jesting among their friends, and eating and drinking enormously. Some held the existence of a Supreme Being; but none knew how to worship Him. They abounded in superstitions, observed omens and dreams, pryed into futurity with the utmost eagerness, and greatly relied on diviners, augurs, and magicians, in all affairs that concerned them, whether of health, war, or hunting.

But enough of this. For the present, Georgia only was Whitefield's sphere of labour. In the year 1732, the Government of England, observing that a large tract of land, between Carolina and the borders of the Spanish Florida, was uncultivated and unsettled, resolved to erect it into a separate province, and to found a colony. They were induced to do this, (1) because the land lay on the frontier of all the English provinces, naked and defenceless, and exposed Carolina especially to attacks from the Spaniards[129] and Indians; and (2) because it was believed that the region might be utilised by the growth of wine, oil, and silk. This useless territory extended along the Atlantic coast for a distance of about sixty miles; and into the interior, from a hundred and fifty to three hundred miles, as far as the Alleghany mountains.

Carolina, the adjoining province, had been formed into an English settlement in 1663. One portion of the colonists were Churchmen; another, quite as large, were Dissenters, who had escaped, as refugees, from tyrannising governments. There were numerous quarrellings between the two classes of religionists. This was bad enough, but it was not the only evil. Eight English noblemen had obtained a charter for the property and jurisdiction of the country. John Locke, the great philosopher, had compiled its fundamental laws. The lordly proprietors stood in the place of the king, appointed all officers, and bestowed all titles of dignity. The people were dissatisfied with the proceedings of their governors, and violent disputes followed. Then there were two wars with the Indian tribes; and, as a consequence of the whole, the colony was almost torn to pieces. Ten years before Whitefield's embarkation, the Parliament of England put the province under the immediate care and inspection of the Crown. Peace was soon established with all the neighbouring Indian nations—the Cherokees, the Creeks, and the Catuabas; Carolina, north and south, was delivered from its internal quarrels; and now trade was advancing with astonishing rapidity.

The climate of Carolina and of the adjoining region, now called Georgia, was one of the finest in the world. The soil of both countries was marvellously rich. Where cultivated, oranges, olives, rice, indigo, wheat, peas, and Indian corn were grown in great abundance. Most of the land, however, was entirely untilled, and consisted of swamps of black fat earth, immense forests of oaks and pines, and, here and there, luxuriant glades, overrun with flowering shrubs and plants the most beautiful.[128]


Though the Georgian colony was now only six years old, five companies of emigrants had already landed. 1. The motley band of released debtors, a hundred and twenty in number, who arrived with Oglethorpe, in February, 1733. 2. The Saltzburghers, who set sail from Dover on January 8, 1734. 3. A number of Scotch islanders, who founded New Inverness, in Darien. 4. Two different sets of Moravians, with one of whom Wesley and his brother sailed. These were Whitefield's parishioners, most of them foreign refugees, a few of them Presbyterian Highlanders, and the rest chiefly insolvent debtors, whom the hand of charity had rescued from London prisons. Wesley's life among them had been embittered by all kinds of vexations, to a great extent engendered by his endeavouring to enforce High-Church discipline. How did Whitefield succeed? His present sojourn was not of long continuance—only four months—but it comprised numerous incidents worthy of being noticed.

Weak as Whitefield was, from his late attack of fever, as soon as he reached Savannah, he "joined in prayer and a psalm of thanksgiving" with Charles Delamotte, whom Wesley had left behind, and with "some pious souls," who rejoiced at his arrival.

Next morning, May 8, as early as five o'clock, the ardent evangelist commenced his public labours by reading the Liturgy, and expounding the second lesson "to seventeen adults and twenty-five children." This was Whitefield's first congregation in America. During the day, he had an interview with the notorious Thomas Causton (the bitter enemy of Wesley), and with the other magistrates of this Liliputian kingdom of about five hundred souls. He says, they received him "with great civility;" and it was resolved by their magisterial highnesses that "he should have a house and tabernacle built at Frederica, and should serve at Savannah, when, and as long as he pleased." Whitefield adds: "I find there are many divisions amongst the inhabitants, but God, I hope, will make me an instrument of composing them."

Whitefield's ardour in commencing his public labours was greater than his prudence. There was an immediate return of fever, and, for the next few days, he was entirely disabled.[131] On Sunday, May 14, he "attempted to read prayers, but was so faint and weak that he was obliged to leave off before he began the second service."[129]

Recovering a little strength, he set out, on May 19, to visit Hampstead and Highgate, two of his parochial villages, about five miles from Savannah. Hampstead consisted "of three families, making in all eleven souls." The component parts of this Georgian village population were two men, one woman, and seven children—all from Switzerland; to whom, by some odd accident, was added another man, a Jew. Whitefield writes: "I was much delighted with seeing the improvements a few pair of hands had made in their respective plantations. Surely they speak not the truth, who say that the Georgia people have been idle, for I never saw more laborious people than are in these villages. I was at a loss, because I could not talk French; but I resolved to follow my worthy predecessor's (Wesley) example, and to visit them once a week, and read prayers to as many as could understand me. I also enquired into the state of their children, and found there were many who might prove useful members of the colony, if there was a proper place for their maintenance and education. Nothing can effect[132] this but an orphan house, which might easily be erected, if some of those who are rich in this world's goods would contribute towards it."

The next day, May 20, Whitefield paid a visit to a memorable man who merits a brief notice.

When Oglethorpe first went to Georgia, in 1733, he found, between the coast and the Alleghany mountains, three considerable nations of Indians—the Uchees, consisting of two hundred men; the Upper Creek, having eleven hundred men; and the Lower Creek, who had nine towns, or rather cantons, and about a thousand men able to bear arms. The chief of the last-mentioned tribe was Tomo Chici, whose head-quarters was at a place called Yamacraw, a short distance from Savannah. Oglethorpe waited upon this Indian chief, and persuaded him to invite a deputation from the other tribes to hold a conference with him at Savannah. The conference took place in one of the newly built houses, about fifty Indian chiefs and leading warriors being present. Oglethorpe received them with his wonted courtesy, and told them that the English, in coming to settle there, did not intend either to dispossess or to annoy the natives; but desired above all things to live in friendship with them, and hoped, through those whom he now addressed, to obtain from them a concession of a portion of their territory, and to confirm a treaty of amity and commerce. Ouechachumpa, a warrior of great stature, replied, and, after describing the region which the natives wished to retain in their own possession, declared the English were welcome to all the rest. Tomo Chici then advanced, and, making a low obeisance, said: "When these white men came, I feared they would drive us away, for we were weak; but they promised not to molest us. We wanted corn and other things, and they have given us supplies; and now, of our small means, we make them presents in return. Here is a buffalo skin, adorned with the head and feathers of an eagle. The eagle signifies speed, and the buffalo strength. The English are swift as the eagle, and strong as the buffalo. Like the eagle, they flew over great waters; and, like the buffalo, nothing can withstand them. But the feathers of the eagle are soft, and signify kindness; and the skin[133] of the buffalo is covering, and signifies protection. Let these, then, remind them to be kind, and to protect us." The terms of alliance were speedily agreed upon; and Oglethorpe presented to each chief, a laced coat, a hat, and a shirt; to each war captain, he gave a gun, and ammunition; and to the attendants, mantles of coarse cloth and smaller presents.

The friendship thus commenced with Tomo Chici was life-long. In 1734, when Oglethorpe returned to England, Tomo Chici, with his wife and nephew, Hillispilli, the war captain of his tribe, five chiefs of the Creeks, and Umpichi, a chief from Palachicolas, with their interpreter and attendants, accompanied him, because he thought it would promote the interests of Georgia if some of the principal natives were to see Great Britain, and become impressed with its power and dignity. Comfortable quarters were provided for the Indians at the Georgia office; and, after being suitably attired, and having their faces painted after their fashion, they were conveyed, in three of the royal carriages, to Kensington Palace, and presented to George II. and his Queen Caroline. Tomo Chici addressed to the king one of his flowery speeches; and the king returned an appropriate reply. They were then introduced to Queen Caroline, to the Prince of Wales, to the Duke of Cumberland, and to the Princesses. One of their party died of smallpox, and was interred in the churchyard of St. John's, Westminster. Oglethorpe took them to his country residence. They likewise visited Lambeth Palace, where they were agreeably entertained by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They were also taken to Eton College, Windsor Castle, St. George's Chapel, Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Greenwich Hospital, and, in short, to all the great sights in the metropolis and its vicinity.

After a four months' residence in England, they rode, in royal carriages, to Gravesend, and embarked for Georgia, where, with a company of Saltzburghers, they arrived in safety.

On February 14, 1736, Tomo Chici, his nephew and heir, and several others, as soon as they heard of the arrival of the ship, came to welcome Wesley to Georgia. "I am glad you are come," said the chief. "When I was in England, I desired that some would speak the great[134] Word to me; and my nation then desired to hear it; but now we are all in confusion. Yet I am glad you are come. I will go up and speak to the wise men of our nation; and I hope they will hear. But we would not be made Christians as the Spaniards make Christians. We would be taught, before we are baptized."[130]

A month after this, Tomo Chici and forty of his Indians set out with Oglethorpe on an expedition, in the course of which they reached a fine island hitherto called Wissoo, but which the chief on this occasion re-named Cumberland, in honour of the young Prince, who had been very gracious to the Indians when in England, particularly to the chief's nephew, to whom His Royal Highness had given a gold repeating watch.

Tomo Chici, on this and other occasions, shewed himself a sincere friend of Oglethorpe and the English settlers; but he hesitated to declare himself a Christian. When Wesley urged him to embrace the doctrines of Christianity, he significantly answered: "Why, these are Christians at Savannah! Those are Christians at Frederica! Christians get drunk! Christians beat men! Christians tell lies! Me no Christian!"

This was the man whom Whitefield visited a few days after his arrival in Georgia. The old chief was dangerously ill, and "lay on a blanket, thin and meagre—little else but skin and bones." His wife, Senauki, "sat by fanning him with Indian feathers." Tooanahowi, his nephew, was the only one present who understood the English language, and through him Whitefield asked the chief whether he thought he was about die? Tomo Chici answered, "I cannot tell." "I then asked," says Whitefield, "where he thought he would go after death? He replied, To heaven." To this brief dialogue, Whitefield adds: "But, alas! how can a drunkard enter there? I then exhorted Tooanahowi (who is a tall proper youth) not to get drunk, and asked him whether he believed a heaven? He answered, Yes. I then asked whether he believed a hell? and described it by pointing to the fire. He replied, No."


Tomo Chici partially recovered from his present illness; and when Oglethorpe arrived a few months afterwards, he, with several other chiefs, came to meet and welcome him, declaring that the coming of "The Great Man," as he called the governor, quite restored him, and made him "moult like the eagle."

In the following year, 1739, the venerable chief, who had nearly reached his hundredth year, tranquilly expired. Having expressed a wish to be buried at Savannah, his remains were brought by water from Yamacraw, and were received at the landing-place by Oglethorpe, the Savannah magistrates, and the people. The pall was borne by the general and five other gentlemen; and the body, followed by the Indian mourners, was interred with military honours. Tooanahowi, his nephew, succeeded to the chieftain dignities, and proved as faithful and firm a friend to the English settlers as his centenarian uncle had been.[131]

Four days after his visit to Tomo Chici, Whitefield and Charles Delamotte went to Thunderbolt, a village, as it was called, about six miles distant, "and consisting of three families, four men and two women, and ten servants." Here he "expounded a chapter, and used a few collects;" and returned to Savannah, saying, "Blessed be God for strengthening my weak body!"

On Friday, June 2, he had to part with "kind Captain Whiting," and his "dear friend Delamotte, who embarked for England."[132] Concerning the latter, he writes: "The poor people lamented the loss of him, and went to the water-side to take a last farewell. And good reason had they to do so; for he has been indefatigable in feeding Christ's lambs with the sincere milk of the word, and many of them have grown thereby. Surely I must labour most heartily, since I come after such worthy predecessors. The good which Mr. John Wesley has done in America, under God,[136] is inexpressible. His name is very precious among the people; and he has laid a foundation that I hope neither men nor devils will ever be able to shake."

A week later, Whitefield appointed one of his friends,[133] who had accompanied him from England, to open a school at Highgate, for the purpose of teaching the children of the French, there and at Hampstead, the English language; so that he and his successors might be able to catechise them, and bring them to church to hear the word of God. He also opened a school for girls at Savannah; another friend, "whose heart God had touched," on board the Whitaker, having consented to teach them. "The work," writes the hopeful and penniless young preacher, "is for my Master, and, therefore, I doubt not of being supplied, some way or another, with a sufficient fund for the support of it."

Though Whitefield was an enormous letter-writer, it is a curious fact, that, of all the letters written during his present visit to America, only one has been preserved. It is as follows:—

"Savannah, June 10, 1738.

"Dearest Sir,—I have been about five weeks at Savannah, where providence seems to intend me to abide for some time. God has graciously visited me with a fit of sickness; but now I am as lively as a young eagle. All things have happened better than was expected. America is not so horrid a place as it is represented to be. The heat of the weather, lying on the ground, etc., are mere painted lions in the way, and, to a soul filled with divine love, not worth mentioning.[134] The country, mornings and evenings, is exceeding pleasant, and there are uncommon[137] improvements made in divers places. With a little assistance, the country people would do very well. As for my ministerial office, God (such is His goodness) sets His seal to it here, as at other places. We have an excellent Christian school, and near a hundred constantly attend at evening prayers. The people receive me gladly into their houses, and seem to be most kindly affected towards me. I have a pretty little family, and find it possible to manage a house without distraction. We have provisions to feed us, though we are cut off from all occasions to pamper our bodies. I visit from house to house, catechise, read prayers twice and expound the two second lessons, every day; read to a house full of people three times a week; expound two lessons at five in the morning, read prayers and preach twice, and expound the catechism at seven in the evening every Sunday. What I have most at heart is the building an orphan house, which I trust will be effected at my return to England. In the meanwhile, I am settling little schools in and about Savannah, that the rising generation may be bred up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The Lord prosper my weak endeavours for promoting His glory and His people's good!"

Such was Whitefield's Sunday and week-day work,—upon an average two and a half public services every day, and four on Sundays.

On the 10th of July, he went to Ebenezer, the place where the Saltzburghers were settled, and wrote concerning them: "They are blessed with two such pious ministers as I have not often seen.[135] They have no courts of judicature, but all little differences are immediately decided by their ministers, whom they look upon and love as their fathers. They have likewise an Orphan House, in which are seventeen children, and one widow, and I was much delighted to see the regularity wherewith it was managed. I gave Mr. Boltzius, one of their ministers, some of my poor's store for[138] his orphans. He called them all before him; catechised and exhorted them to give God thanks for His good providence towards them; then prayed with them, and made them pray after him; then sung a psalm; and, afterwards, the little lambs came and shook me by the hand one by one. So we parted, and I scarce was ever better pleased in my life."

Wherever he went, Whitefield was beloved. Even the mongrel population of Savannah treated him with affectionate respect. He writes: "They seem to have a sincere affection for me, and flock (especially every evening) to hear the word of God. They everywhere receive me with the utmost civility, and are not angry when I reprove them. I have endeavoured to let my gentleness be known amongst them, because they consist of different nations and opinions; and I have striven to draw them by the cords of love, because the obedience resulting from that principle I take to be the most genuine and lasting."

In the month of August, Whitefield visited Frederica,[136] a town above a hundred miles from Savannah, "and consisting of about a hundred and twenty inhabitants." Two years ago, the ill-natured inhabitants of Frederica had worried Charles Wesley almost into madness; but Whitefield says: "The people received me most gladly, having had a famine of the word for a long season." Though timber was being sawn for the purpose, as yet no church had been built; and Whitefield's first service was under a large tree, where he read prayers and expounded the Second Lesson.[137] "Poor creatures!" said he, "my heart ached for them, because I saw them and their children scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd."

During his five days' stay at Frederica, he paid a flying[139] visit to Darien, about twenty miles distant, where the Highlanders were settled, his object being to hold Christian fellowship with Mr. McLeod, whom he describes as "a worthy minister of the Scotch Church."

On the 16th of August, he again arrived at Savannah, where he spent the next twelve days; at the end of which he set sail for England. During this brief interval, two events occurred which must be noticed.

The first was his refusal to read the Burial Service over a dead infidel.[138] Whitefield had frequently visited the man during his lingering illness, and had offered to pray with him, which he would not permit. Two days before his death, Whitefield asked him, "Do you believe Jesus Christ to be God, the one Mediator between God and man?" The answer was, "I believe Christ was a good man." "Do you believe the Holy Scriptures?" "I believe," replied he, "something of the Old Testament—the New I do not believe at all." "Do you believe a judgment to come?" "I know not what to say to that," answered the dying sceptic. Whitefield writes: "The day after his decease, he was carried to the ground, and I refused to read the office over him, but went to the grave and told the people what had passed between him and me; warned them against infidelity; and asked them whether I could safely say, 'As our hope is this our brother doth.' Upon which I believe they were thoroughly satisfied that I had done right."[139]

The other event was of a more pleasing kind, namely, the opening of a newly built school-house at Highgate. Only three months had passed since Whitefield's first visit there. In the interval, one of the settlers had given him a site for the erection; the rest had given labour; and now the building was completed. Whitefield consecrated the edifice by reading the Liturgy, preaching, baptizing an infant, and catechising the children. "After the service," says the[140] happy minister, "we refreshed ourselves together, thanked our good God, and ate our bread with gladness of heart."

Whitefield's departure from Savannah, which took place on August 28, was widely different from that of his friend Wesley eight months before. He writes:—

"1738, August 28. This being the day of my departure, it was mostly spent in taking leave of my flock, who expressed their affection now more than ever.[140] They came to me, from the morning to the time I left them, with tears in their eyes, wishing me a prosperous voyage and safe return. They also brought me wine, ale, cake, coffee, tea, and other things proper for my passage, and their love seemed to be without dissimulation. My heart was full, and I took the first opportunity of venting it by prayers and tears. I think I never parted from a place with more regret. I have great hope some good will come out of Savannah; because, the longer I continued there, the larger the congregations grew. I scarce know a night, though we had divine service twice a day, when the church-house has not been nearly full."

It will naturally be asked, if Whitefield was so happy in his work in Georgia, why did he so soon leave it? An answer to this will be found in the following extract from a paper written some years afterwards. It will be seen, 1. That there were certain things in the government of the country which Whitefield wished to have altered. 2. That he felt it a duty to collect funds for the erection of an orphan house. 3. That it was necessary he should return to England to be ordained a priest. As an explanation of what follows, it may be added here, that the Trustees of Georgia, from the best of motives, had, 1. Prohibited the introduction of ardent spirits,—a prohibition which it was difficult to enforce, and which led to clandestine traffic. 2. They had granted lands to none but male emigrants, and had issued a regulation to the effect that female descendants should not inherit the estates of their ancestors. In families[141] of daughters, this was a grievance that soon created a just discontent. 3. The Trustees also interdicted the introduction of slaves. "Slavery," said Oglethorpe, "is against the Gospel as well as against the fundamental law of England." Besides, he adds, the colony is "an asylum for the distressed, and it is necessary, therefore, not to permit slaves in such a country, for slaves starve the poor labourer." Such were some of the reasons for this interdict; but it is a curious fact, that as early as the year 1736, several "of the better sort of people in Savannah" had sent a petition to the Trustees "for the use of negroes."[141] Not only in one, but in all these respects, Whitefield, oddly enough, sympathised with the malcontent inhabitants of Georgia. Hear what he says:—

"The people were denied the use both of rum and slaves. The lands were allotted them according to a particular plan, whether good or bad; and the female heirs were prohibited from inheriting. So that in reality to place people there, on such a footing, was little better than to tie their legs and bid them walk. The scheme was well meant at home; but was absolutely impracticable in so hot a country abroad. However, that rendered what I had brought over from my friends more acceptable to the poor inhabitants, and gave me an ocular demonstration of the great necessity of an orphan house, which I now determined to set about in earnest. The Saltzburghers at Ebenezer had one; and having heard and read of what Professor Francke had done in that way, in Germany, I confidently hoped that something of the like nature might succeed in Georgia. Many poor orphans were there already, and the number was likely soon to be increased.

"The settlers were chiefly broken and decayed tradesmen from London and other parts of England; several Scotch adventurers; some Highlanders, who had a worthy minister named McLeod; a few Moravians; and the Saltzburghers, who were by far the most industrious of the whole.

"With the worthy ministers of Ebenezer, Messrs. Grenaw and Boltzius, I contracted an intimacy. Many praying people were in the congregation, which, with the consideration that such faithful labourers as Messrs. Wesleys and Ingham had been sent, gave me great hope that, unpromising as the aspect at present might be, the colony might emerge in time out of its infant state. Mr. Ingham had made some small advances towards converting the Indians, who were at a small settlement about four miles from Savannah. He went and lived among them for a few months, and began to compose an Indian Grammar; but he was soon called away to[142] England. Mr. Charles Wesley had chiefly acted as secretary to General Oglethorpe; but he also soon went to England to engage more labourers. Mr. John Wesley, having met with unworthy treatment, both at Frederica and Savannah, soon followed. Through Divine mercy, I met with respectable treatment from magistrates, officers, and people. The first I visited now and then; the others, besides preaching twice a day and four times a Lord's day, I visited from house to house. I was in general most cordially received; but, from time to time, found that 'Clum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.' Though lowered in their circumstances, a sense of what they formerly were in their native country remained. It was plain to be seen that coming over was not so much out of choice as constraint. Among some of these, however, the word took effectual root. I was really happy in my little foreign cure, and could have cheerfully remained among them, had I not been obliged to return to England to receive priest's orders and to make a beginning towards laying a foundation to the orphan house."[142]

Here then are Whitefield's reasons why, after so short a residence, he left Savannah, and set sail for England.

First of all, in a boat provided by Thomas Causton, Wesley's foe, he made his way to Charleston, the capital of Carolina, where, says he, "I was received in a most Christian manner by the Bishop of London's Commissary, the Rev. Mr. Garden, a good soldier of Jesus Christ;"[143] and was treated with great kindness by several others. Here he remained about ten days, and then, on September 9, embarked on board the Mary, Captain Coc, commander, bound from Charleston to England.

With the exception of two or three days, the first month of the passage home was a continual storm. During the first week, Whitefield never undressed, and lay upon deck, or on a chest, every night. On October 3, when they had sailed about 150 miles, they encountered a tempest which slit nearly all their sails to strips. The captain's hammock, in the great cabin, was half filled with water. Whitefield, in his berth, was drenched. Most of the fresh provisions were washed overboard; and the tackling of the ship was seriously injured. In the midst of all, however, Whitefield was kept in peace. "God," says he, "was exceeding gracious unto me, and enabled me greatly to rejoice. My sphere of[143] action was now contracted into a very narrow compass; for there are but few souls on board, and all that I can do is to read public prayers, and add a word of exhortation, twice every day. The captain and all are very civil."

Whitefield did not forget his friends. On the 2nd of October, he wrote a long letter "to the Inhabitants of Savannah,"—a sort of pastoral epistle—in which he strongly insists upon that which had so often been the subject of his sermons—"the new birth in Christ Jesus—that ineffable change which must pass upon our hearts before we can see God." "The author of this blessed change," says he, "is the Holy Ghost; and the means to attain this Holy Spirit, you know, and the way you know." It is a remarkable fact, however, that, whilst specifying the means, as 1. Self-denial; 2. Public Worship; 3. Reading the Scriptures; 4. Secret Prayer; 5. Self-examination; and 6. Receiving the blessed Sacrament,—there is not a word about faith in Christ; and, further, it is equally remarkable that, until after this, the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ only, is never even mentioned in any of Whitefield's published sermons, nor in any of his private letters to his friends. The fact is, whilst he himself fully trusted in the infinite sacrifice of Christ as the alone procuring cause of a sinner's salvation, he had yet to learn that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, is not only a doctrine of paramount importance in the great scheme of Christian truth, but one which stands pre-eminent throughout the whole of the New Testament Scriptures. The Wesley brothers, in this very year, 1738, to their own great amazement, had been brought to the knowledge of this unspeakably important dogma of revealed religion, and had begun to preach it. A few months later, Whitefield was led to embrace the same doctrine, and had the same divine conviction; and henceforward, to the end of life, was second to none in expounding and enforcing the text of the inspired Apostle, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

But leaving this, and returning to Whitefield's pastoral epistle, while defective in the momentous point just mentioned, it is in all other respects most admirable.


"I must defer," says he, "dwelling further on this subject till I see you in person, and am qualified to administer unto you the sacred symbols of Christ's blessed body and blood. In the meanwhile, think not that I shall forget you in my prayers. No, I remember my promise, and, whilst the winds and storms are blowing over me, I make supplication to God on your behalf. Remember, my dear friends, that, for the space of near four months, I ceased not, day and night, warning every one of you to repent and turn to God, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance. Repent you, therefore, and walk in all things as becometh the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and then, and then only, shall your sins be blotted out.[144] Let there be no divisions among you; for a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Be over-careful for nothing, but, in everything, with supplications and thanksgiving, make your wants known unto God. Speak not evil one of another, but live at peace among yourselves; and the God of peace shall in all things direct and rule your hearts. Brethren, pray that God would prosper the work of His hands upon me, and restore me to you as soon as possible. In about eight months, God willing, I hope to see you. In the meanwhile, you shall not be forgotten by your affectionate, though unworthy, minister in Christ Jesus,

"George Whitefield."

Such was Whitefield's letter, written in the midst of ocean-storms. A fortnight later he wrote as follows:—

"October 14. Sailed this week about 600 miles; but yesterday God was pleased to send us a contrary wind, which still continues. A few days ago, I flattered myself we should soon be at our desired port, but God is pleased to defer the accomplishment of my hopes. However, blessed be His name! He enables me to give thanks. Most of this week has been spent in searching the Scriptures, and in retirements for direction and assistance in the work before me. My fresh provisions are gone, and the people are put to the allowance of a quart of water each man for a day. I hope now the spiritual man will grow, having so little for the natural man to feed upon. Amen, Lord Jesus! Blessed be God! By His grace, I rejoice in necessities, and in everything give thanks. Had this sentence out of Matthew Henry much pressed upon my heart, 'The mower loses no time while he is whetting his scythe.'"

On November 4, Whitefield remarked:—

"Our allowance of water now is but a pint a day, so that we dare not eat much salt beef. Our sails are exceeding thin; some more of them were split last night, and no one knows where we are; but God does, and that is sufficient. Last night, He lifted up the light of His blessed countenance upon me; and to-day, He fills me with joy unspeakable and full of glory; so that, though I have little to eat, I inwardly possess[145] all things. This is now the eighth week I have been on board. If my friends ask me why I arrived no sooner, I may truly answer, Satan hindered us; for I believe it is he who is permitted to do this."

A week later he wrote again:—

"Still we are floating about, not knowing where we are; but our people seem yet to have hopes of seeing Ireland. The weather now begins to be cold, so that I can say with the Apostle, 'I am in hungerings and thirstings, cold and fastings often.' My outward man sensibly decayeth, but the spiritual man, I trust, is renewed day by day. Our ship is much out of repair, and our food by no means enough to support nature; an ounce or two of salt beef, a pint of water, and a cake made of flour and skimmings of the pot; but I often think of Him who preserved Moses in the ark of bulrushes, and so long as I look upwards, my faith will not fail."

The next day, land appeared. Their plight was pitiable. They had but half a pint of water left. A boat was sent on shore. Provisions and water were obtained; and Mr. McMahon, "a great country gentleman," sent an invitation to Whitefield to visit him, and to stay in his house as long as he liked. "As soon as the provisions came," says Whitefield, "we kneeled down and returned hearty thanks to our good God, who has heard our prayers, and sent His angel before us to prepare our way." On November 14, the ship anchored near the west coast of Ireland, and Whitefield landed. He writes:—

"The voyage has been greatly for my good; for I have had a glorious opportunity of searching the Scriptures, composing discourses, writing letters, and communing with my own heart. We have been on board just nine weeks and three days,—a long and perilous, but profitable voyage to my soul; for, I hope, it has taught me, in some measure, to endure hardships as becometh a minister of Christ. My clothes have not been off (except to change me) all the passage. Part of the time I lay on open deck; part on a chest; and the remainder on a bedstead covered with my buffalo's skin. These things, though little in themselves, are great in their consequences; and, whosoever despiseth small acts of bodily discipline, it is to be feared, will insensibly lose his spiritual life by little and little. As for the success of my ministry whilst on board, I shall only say, much sin has been prevented, and one I hope effectually converted, who is to be my fellow-traveller to England."

Mr. McMahon treated Whitefield with the genuine hospitality of an Irish gentleman, and furnished him with three[146] horses to convey him, his servant, and the new convert just mentioned, from one side of Ireland to the other.

Their first day's journey brought them to Kilrush, where they met Captain Coc and a number of his crew, who, the night before, had been almost wrecked. Whitefield writes: "On entering our inn, we kneeled down and prayed; and again, at night, sung psalms, and prayed with the captain and several of my shipmates; the first time, I believe, the room was ever put to such a use by a ship's crew and their chaplain."

Whilst here, undaunted by his recent privations and dangers, Whitefield wrote to a friend in England:—

"Kilrush, Nov. 16, 1738.

"I send you this to inform you of my safe arrival here. I know you will rejoice and give thanks, and pray that my coming to London may be in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of peace. God has done for me more abundantly than I could dare to ask or think. The seed of the glorious gospel has taken root in the American ground, and, I hope, will grow up into a great tree. America—infant Georgia—is an excellent soil for Christianity; you cannot live there without taking up a daily cross; therefore, I shall hasten back as soon as possible after Christmas."

Whitefield's second day's Irish journey was from Kilrush to Fourthfargus,[145] a distance of about thirty miles. Everywhere he was struck with the poverty of the people, and thought the huts in Georgia were palaces when compared with the Irish turf and mud-built cabins. In this the cold and wet month of November, he saw many of the people walking barefoot, some because they were destitute of shoes, and others carrying in their hands their "clouted brogues" to save them from wearing out. Nearly all were papists, and "seemed," says Whitefield, "so very ignorant that they may well be termed the wild Irish."

On Saturday, November 19, he came to Limerick, where he spent the Sunday. Dr. Burscough, Bishop of Limerick, received him "with the utmost candour and civility;" and, at his lordship's request, he preached in the cathedral "to a very numerous audience, who seemed[147] universally affected." After sermon, the mayor sent twice to invite him to dinner; but he "was pre-engaged to the bishop," who offered him "the free use of his palace." "As I was eating at dinner," says Whitefield, "I was meditating on the Divine goodness in spreading such a table for me, when last Sunday I was in danger of perishing with hunger. But I thought, at the same time, if this was so great a blessing, what an infinitely greater one will it be, after the troubles of this life, to sit down and eat bread in the kingdom of God." The next day, when taking leave of his lordship, "the good bishop kissed him, and said, 'Mr. Whitefield, God bless you! I wish you success abroad. Had you stayed in town, this house should have been your home.'"

Three days afterwards, the weather-beaten hero arrived at Dublin, and thus completed his journey of about 200 miles across the "sister island," remarking that there were two things for which Ireland deserved credit,—the roads were good, and provisions cheap.

During the five days that Whitefield spent in Dublin, he visited the celebrated Dr. Delany, who received him with the greatest kindness. Through Delany, he was introduced to Dr. Rundle, Bishop of Londonderry, and to Dr. Boulter,[146] the Archbishop of Armagh, both of whom invited him to dinner. He also preached in two of the Dublin churches—St. Werburgh's and St. Andrew's—and says, "God enabled me to speak with power."

On November 30, he landed at Parkgate, and hurried to Nantwich, hoping to meet with his old friend, Mr. Matthew[148] Salmon, an Oxford Methodist, who, three years before, had arranged to go with the Wesleys to Georgia, but, at the last moment, was prevented by his family.

From Nantwich, Whitefield went to Manchester, to visit another of the Oxford Methodists, the Rev. John Clayton, by whose "judicious Christian conversation," says he, "I was much edified." Here he spent Sunday, December 3, and preached twice in Clayton's church, to thronged and attentive congregations, and assisted six more clergymen in administering the sacrament to three hundred communicants. Five days afterwards, he arrived in London, "was received with much joy" by his Christian friends, "joined with them in psalms and thanksgiving," and, at night, went to a meeting of the Moravian Society, in Fetter Lane.

At the time of Whitefield's arrival, Wesley was at Oxford; but, hearing of his friend's return, he "hastened to London;" and says, "On December 12, God gave us once more to take sweet counsel together."

Strange things had happened during Whitefield's absence. The two Wesleys had been brought into close connection with the Moravians, and had both found peace with God through faith in Christ. Charles had formed an intimate acquaintance with the Rev. Henry Piers, of Bexley, and with the Delamotte family, at Blendon. For seven months, ever since the memorable "Day of Pentecost," in the month of May, he had sung, rejoiced, and given thanks. Wherever an opportunity occurred, he had preached, with all the earnestness of his impulsive nature, his newly discovered doctrine of a free salvation, attainable at once, by simple faith in Christ. He had prayed with half a score of condemned convicts in Newgate prison, had instructed them, and then gone with them to Tyburn gallows. Besides occupying the pulpits of other London churches, he had become a sort of curate of the Rev. Mr. Stonehouse, vicar of Islington; and, on September 3, had "preached salvation by faith" even in Westminster Abbey, where he also "gave the cup."

John Wesley's history had been equally eventful. He had met with Peter Bohler, and had been taught that true faith in Christ is inseparably connected with dominion over sin, and constant peace, arising from a sense of forgiveness—a[149] doctrine which, at the first, Wesley regarded as a "new gospel." He had preached, before the University, in St. Mary's, Oxford, his memorable sermon, from the text, "By grace are ye saved, through faith." He had spent three months in visiting the Moravian brotherhoods in Germany. He and his brother had waited upon Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London, to answer the complaints his lordship had heard against them. He had drawn up a set of rules for the regulation of the Moravian band societies in London; and he had published his first "Collection of Psalms and Hymns."[147] Though he had preached in several of the London churches, his preaching, as yet, comparatively speaking, had not created much excitement; but he was being prepared for action, and, when the time arrived, he was ready for the battle.

Whitefield arrived in London on December 8, and, on the day following, waited on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, and says he "met with a favourable reception." All, however, was not smooth sailing. On December 10, he writes: "Five churches have been already denied me, and some of the clergy, if possible, would oblige me to depart out of these coasts." As yet, however, all the churches were not closed against him. On the same day, he preached in St. Helen's,[148] the church of Broughton, the Oxford Methodist; and in the parish church of Islington, where Mr. Stonehouse was vicar; and concluded the Sabbath by attending a Moravian love-feast, at Fetter Lane, and spending about two hours in prayer and singing. He found that many who had been awakened by his preaching, twelve months before, were now "grown strong men in Christ, by the ministrations of his dear friends and fellow-labourers, John and Charles Wesley;" and, in his journal, he significantly adds: "I found the old doctrine of[150] justification by faith only much revived. Many letters had been sent to me concerning it, all of which I, providentially, missed receiving; for now I come unprejudiced, and can the more easily see who is right. And who dare assert that we are not justified in the sight of God merely by an act of faith in Jesus Christ, without any regard to works past, present, or to come?" So far as there is evidence to shew, this was a doctrine which, up to the present, Whitefield had never preached. Now, somewhat to his surprise, he found the Moravians and the Wesley brothers preaching it continually.

With the exception of St. Helen's in Bishopsgate Street, Christ Church in Spitalfields, Wapping Chapel, and the parish church at Islington, Whitefield, on his return from Georgia, was excluded from all the London churches. A year ago, his popularity in London was enormous. Not only the pulpits of the churches just mentioned, but those of Cripplegate, St. Ann's (Foster Lane), the Tower, Ludgate, Newgate, Bow Church (in Cheapside), St. Andrew (Holborn), St. Antholin, St. Nicholas, and many others, were freely offered him. Now, nearly all were shut against him. Why was this? Perhaps it was partly occasioned by the imprudent publication of his two "Journals of a Voyage from London to Gibraltar, and from Gibraltar to Savannah"—journals full of devotion, faith, and godly zeal, but yet containing words, phrases, and sentences which it was unwise to print. There was nothing absolutely wrong, but occasionally there was a modicum of pious egotism, and there were rapturous expressions unfamiliar to Pharisaic ears, and which exposed the writer to the malignant shafts of inferior men, who were envious of the preacher's popularity and success. Another reason may, perhaps, be found in the fact that Whitefield and the Wesley brothers were known to be faithful and ardent friends. Though the Wesleys had not, as yet, encountered any serious opposition, their newly embraced doctrine of justification by faith only, and their intimate and open connection with the London Moravians, had been, to many of the members of the Church of England, an occasion of huge offence; and it is not improbable that Whitefield's exclusion from the London[151] churches was partly on their account. And, further, though the terrible storm of persecution had yet to come and burst, there were already mutterings of its approach, and of its violence. As an antidote to Whitefield's doctrine of the new birth, the Rev. Tipping Silvester had published a sermon,[149] preached before the University of Oxford, the chief point of which was that men are born again in baptism. Further, in condemnation of Wesley's doctrine, that true faith in Christ is inseparably attended by an assurance of the forgiveness of sins, the Rev. Arthur Bedford, Chaplain to His Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, had printed a discourse, delivered in the church of St. Lawrence Jewry, in which he strongly argued that, to profess to have received such an assurance, savours of spiritual pride, and cannot but produce bad results. It is a "grand enthusiasm;" "instead of bringing a man nearer to heaven, it sets him farther from it, for the whole tenor of the gospel is to teach us humility and lowliness of mind." "If," continues Mr. Bedford, "it pleased God, by His Holy Spirit, to give me such an assurance, I should think myself obliged heartily to bless His name for it in private, and humbly beg a continuance of it; but I should also think myself obliged, in conscience to conceal it, unless I was called forth to martyrdom."

It is more than probable that all these things contributed to Whitefield's being denied the use of those London pulpits from which, only twelve months before, he had preached, to admiring crowds, with such startling eloquence and power. But, perhaps, the chief cause of his exclusion was the publication of an 8vo. pamphlet, of thirty-two pages, with the following title: "Remarks on the Reverend Mr. Whitefield's Journal. Wherein his many Inconsistencies are pointed out, and his Tenets considered. The whole shewing the dangerous tendency of his Doctrine. Addressed to the Religious Societies. Ex tuo ipsius ore te damnabo." The pamphlet was a weak performance, but full of venom. The writer professes a great regard for truth and the general good of the[152] Religious Societies, and confesses that Whitefield's "zeal to promote the glory of God in London had made him esteem and admire him;" but he adds that, finding "so many inconsistencies and false notions of religion in" Whitefield's Journal, "I could not help endeavouring to undeceive others, since I am so much deceived in him myself."

The "Remarks on the Journal" are scarcely worthy of quotation. Suffice it to say that, besides accusing Whitefield of "placing religion in perturbations of mind, possessions of God, ecstatic flights, and supernatural impulses;" of "insinuating that he was a peculiar favourite of heaven," and of "arriving at such a height of enthusiasm as to cause intervals of madness,"—the zealous reviewer of Whitefield and his religion addresses the Religious Societies as follows:—

"I am not a stranger to those causeless divisions among you, occasioned by Mr. Whitefield's doctrine, and others of his stamp, which have even drove some of you into despair, and have caused others (really pious and well-meaning people) not to be easy in themselves, but to think their eternal happiness forfeited, through a want of those feelings which he prescribes as the necessary ingredient for a good Christian. I shall leave it to you to think whether any doctrine, attended with such melancholic and frightful consequences, can be a means of promoting the glory of God and benefiting mankind. I doubt not but you will think in the negative. If so, let me exhort each of you, according to his power, to endeavour to suppress it. The only means that I can recommend to you is to work on those who are falling from you by gentle means; to remove from their minds all vain expectations of these new tokens of the Spirit, pangs, feelings, and the like; and to inform them that the only fruit of the Spirit is righteousness; and always to keep up in them a sense that their services, being according to their best endeavours (though imperfect), will be acceptable with God, through the merits of Christ. This will preserve them from despair, and be the only means to prevent those frightful thoughts affecting the mind. But if they should at any time afterwards present themselves, let them always keep in memory our blessed Saviour's description of the particulars by which every man is to be judged at the last day, where there is no mention made of inward feelings, possessions, and the like; but if he was hungry, ye gave him meat," etc. (Matt. xxv 34-40).

This was odd theology; but let it pass. There can be no doubt that the circulation of this well-printed, if not well-written, pamphlet created a prejudice against the young preacher; and that this, in connection with the other circumstances[153] already mentioned, is quite sufficient to account for the surprising fact, that whereas, at the end of the year 1737, Whitefield, of all the preachers in the London churches, was the most popular, he was, notwithstanding this, almost universally tabooed at the end of 1738, and, with few exceptions, found all the churches closed against him.

To an aspiring, ardent spirit, like that of Whitefield, this was a serious trial; but while it pained, it failed to paralyse the man. To gag him was impossible. If not allowed to preach in churches, he was determined to preach elsewhere. On Christmas Eve, besides preaching twice in places not named, he attended a meeting of the Crooked Lane Society, and "withstood several persons, who cavilled against the doctrine of the new birth;" thence he "went and expounded to a company at Mr. B——'s, in Little Britain;" and thence proceeded to a Moravian love-feast at Fetter Lane, where he "continued, with many truly Christian brethren, in prayer, psalms, and thanksgiving," till nearly four o'clock on Christmas Day morning. But even now his work was not ended. Instead of seeking rest in bed, he went direct from Fetter Lane to Redcross Street, and, at four o'clock, "expounded to another Society consisting of two or three hundred people;"[150] at six, he expounded again "as well as he could" to Crutched Friar's Society; and then, during the same day, "without going to sleep," "preached thrice, and assisted in administering the Christian Sacrament." Thus, in something like six-and-thirty hours, he preached five sermons, expounded to four Societies, and attended the exhaustingly prolonged love-feast in Fetter Lane.

How did he spend the ensuing week,—the last in the memorable year 1738? Many a man, after such exertions, would have deemed it his duty to have had a Christmas holiday; but if any one could truthfully sing the lines of his friend Wesley, Whitefield could:—

"Labour is rest, and pain is sweet,
If Thou, my God, art here."


The question just propounded shall be answered partly by Charles Wesley, and partly by Whitefield himself. The former writes:—

"1738, Tuesday, December 26. George Whitefield preached. We had the sacrament this and the four following days. On Thursday, my brother preached; on Friday, George Whitefield; and on Saturday, Mr. Robson. The whole week was a festival indeed; a joyful season, holy unto the Lord."[151]

Whitefield says:—

"1738, Saturday, December 30. Preached nine times this week, and expounded near eighteen times, with great power and enlargement. Blessed be God! I am every moment employed from morning till midnight. There is no end of the people's coming and sending to me. They seem more and more desirous, like new-born babes, to be fed with the sincere milk of the word. What a great work has been wrought in the hearts of many within this twelvemonth!

"Sunday, December 31. Preached twice to large congregations, especially in the afternoon, at Spitalfields. I had a great hoarseness upon me;" (no wonder!) "but God strengthened me to speak, so as to be heard by all. After I left Spitalfields, I expounded to two companies in Southwark, and was never more enlarged in prayer in my life. Many were pricked to the heart, and felt themselves to be sinners. Oh that all the world knew and felt that!"

Thus, with Whitefield, ended the year 1738.



January to August, 1739.

Whitefield began the new year as gloriously as he ended that which had just expired. He received the sacrament, preached twice, expounded twice, attended a Moravian love-feast in Fetter Lane, where he "spent the whole night in prayer, psalms, and thanksgivings;" and then pronounced "this to be the happiest New Year's Day he had ever seen."

The love-feast at Fetter Lane was a memorable one. Besides about sixty Moravians, there were present not fewer than seven of the Oxford Methodists, namely, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Westley Hall, Benjamin Ingham, Charles Kinchin, and Richard Hutchins,—all of them ordained clergymen of the Church of England. Wesley writes: "About three in the morning, as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that awe and amazement at the presence of His majesty, we broke out with one voice, 'We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.'" This Pentecost on New Year's Day could never be forgotten. It was a glorious preparation for the herculean work on which Whitefield and the Wesleys were about to enter. No wonder that the year thus begun should be the most remarkable in Methodistic history.

Only four hours after this overwhelming visitation in Fetter Lane, Whitefield was employed in another kind of work. He writes: "January 2. From seven in the morning[156] till three in the afternoon, people came, some telling me what God had done for their souls, and others crying out, 'What shall we do to be saved?'"

Three days afterwards, the seven Oxford Methodists, just mentioned, "held a Conference at Islington, concerning several things of great importance." Whitefield says: "What we were in doubt about, after prayer, we determined by lot, and everything else was carried on with great love, meekness, and devotion. We continued in fasting and prayer till three o'clock, and then parted with a full conviction that God was going to do great things among us."

With the exception of the question whether Charles Wesley ought "to settle at Oxford,"[152] the matters, which were discussed at this the first Methodist Conference, are utterly unknown; but that the members of it were intensely earnest, and that their conviction that something marvellous was about to happen was not the whim of presumptuous fanatics, no one can seriously doubt.

During this momentous week—the first in the year 1739—Whitefield preached six times, and expounded twice or thrice every night. On the first Sunday of the year, January 7, he preached twice, expounded to three Societies, and spent the whole night in prayer and thanksgiving at Fetter Lane. The next day he writes:—

"Monday, January 8. Though I sat up all night, yet God carried me through the work of the day with about an hour's sleep. Expounded in the evening, and confuted a virulent opposer of the doctrine of the new birth, and justification by faith only. Spent the remainder of the evening with our Bands, which are little combinations of six or more Christians meeting together to compare their experiences."

From such extracts, the reader may learn, 1. That Whitefield's labours were gigantic. 2. That he had now fully embraced the doctrine of justification by faith only. 3. That he was in close communion with the Religious Societies, and especially with the Moravian brotherhood.

Though most of the London churches were closed against him, he was enormously popular, and his preaching more powerful than ever. On January 10, after his sermon at[157] Great St. Helen's, 33 were collected towards erecting a church for the Saltzburghers in Georgia; and he himself testifies, concerning his ministry in general, "The Holy Ghost so powerfully worked upon my hearers, pricking their hearts, and melting them into floods of tears, that a spiritual man said, 'He never saw the like before.'"

The time had now arrived for Whitefield to be ordained a priest. Soon after his arrival from Georgia, he wrote as follows, to his friend Harris at Gloucester:—

"London, December 30, 1738.

"I am appointed by the Trustees to be minister of Savannah. The Bishop of London (Doctor Gibson) accepts the title, and has given me letters demissory to any other bishop. I have waited also on Doctor Secker, Bishop of Oxford, who acquaints me that our worthy diocesan, good Bishop Benson, ordains for him to-morrow fortnight at Oxford, and that he will give me letters demissory to him. God be praised! I was praying night and day, whilst on ship-board, that good Bishop Benson, who laid hands on me as a deacon, might now make me a priest. And now my prayer is answered."

In accordance with this arrangement, Whitefield, on January the 10th, set out for Oxford, where he spent the next four days. His Journal of this brief interval is too racy to be omitted. He writes:—

"Friday, January 12. Breakfasted with sixteen or seventeen Christian brethren; expounded and read prayers at the Castle to many devout souls. Afterwards, I waited on the Bishop of Gloucester, who received me very kindly. Waited on the Master of Pembroke; afterwards on the archdeacon. Went to public worship at Pembroke. Supped, prayed, and sung psalms, with a room full of brethren at Mr. F——'s;[153] then adjourned to Corpus Christi College, where God assisted me to talk clearly of the new birth, and justification by faith alone, with one that opposed it.

"Saturday, January 13. Received the holy sacrament at St. Mary's; expounded at F——'s; went with the other candidates for holy orders to subscribe to the Articles, and secretly prayed that we all might have our names written in the book of life. Drank tea with a well-disposed gentleman commoner, and had close conversation with many others at Corpus Christi College.

Sunday, January 14. This, blessed be God, has been a day of fat things. Rose in the morning, and prayed and sung psalms lustily, and[158] with a good courage; and afterwards was ordained priest at Christ's Church. Before, I was a little dissipated, but, at imposition of hands, my mind was in an humble frame, and I received grace in the holy sacrament. That I might begin to make proof of my ministry, I preached and administered the sacrament at the Castle; and preached in the afternoon at St. Alban's, to a crowded congregation. The church was surrounded by gownsmen of all degrees, who stood attentive at the windows during my sermon. God enabled me to preach with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power, and quite took away my hoarseness, so that I could lift up my voice like a trumpet. After sermon, I joined in giving thanks to our good God for all the mercies He had conferred upon me. Then I read prayers at Carfax; expounded to a large and devout company at a private house; and spent the remainder of the evening with thirteen more, where God gave me great cheerfulness of spirit."

Whitefield was ordained a priest. It is more than possible, if he had waited until the next Ember-days, he would never have been ordained a priest at all. Bishop Benson, from the first, had been a friend to him. Though he had publicly declared he would not ordain any one a deacon under the age of three-and-twenty, he, without solicitation, ordained Whitefield when he was only twenty-one years and a half. He gave him five guineas to assist him in defraying the expenses of taking his B.A. degree at Oxford, and twenty pounds for the poor of Georgia. He ordained him a priest when, with few exceptions, the clergy of the land were beginning to indulge in clamorous complaints against him; and, three weeks after his ordination, gave him another "liberal benefaction for Georgia."[154] And yet, even "the good bishop," as Whitefield so often calls him, was not absolutely contented with him. Hence the following extract from a letter addressed to the Earl of Huntingdon. After giving an account of Whitefield's ordination, the bishop proceeds to say:—

"I hope this will give some satisfaction to my lady, and that she will not have occasion to find fault with your lordship's old tutor. Though mistaken on some points, I think Mr. Whitefield a very pious, well-meaning young man, with good abilities and great zeal. I find his Grace of Canterbury[155] thinks highly of him. I pray God to grant him great success in all his undertakings for the good of mankind, and the revival of true religion and holiness among us in these degenerate days; in which prayer, I am[159] sure, your lordship and my kind good Lady Huntington will most heartily join."[156]

This letter introduces a name which will occupy a prominent place throughout the whole of Whitefield's remaining history. When and where the Countess of Huntingdon first became acquainted with Whitefield we are not informed; but it is evident that already she was interested in the man, and desirous of his ordination. Her well-informed biographer, in his "Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon," has crowded his pages with facts, racy, rich, and important; but he sorely tries the patience of his readers by his neglect of dates, and by his consequent chronological confusion. He states, however, that, among the nobility, Lady Townshend, the eccentric mother of George, the first Marquis Townshend, "was the first who extolled the preaching of Whitefield, whom she alternately liked and disliked."[157]

Further, one of the earliest fruits of Whitefield's ministry among the nobility in the metropolis was Lady Anne Frankland, daughter of the Earl of Scarborough, and second wife of Frederick Frankland, Esq., M.P. for Thirsk. For many years, Lady Anne held the situation of Lady of the Bedchamber to the Princess Anne, and to the Princesses Amelia and Caroline. By the influence of Lady Frankland, her sisters, the Lady Barbara Leigh and the Lady Henrietta Lumley, were induced to attend Whitefield's preaching, from which they received much spiritual good. This so exasperated Mr. Frankland, that he treated his wife with the utmost cruelty, declared she was the object of his aversion, and threatened to murder her. The result was, a separation followed, and, not long afterwards, Lady Frankland died.[158]


The Earl of Huntingdon and his illustrious wife constantly attended wherever Whitefield preached. Among others whom, at this early period, the Countess of Huntingdon interested in Whitefield's remarkable career, was Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, famed for her beauty, dignity, sprightliness, wit, petulance, pride, and vanity, and of whom it has been said that, by her influence in the Cabinet, she swayed the destinies of Europe with as great effect as did her husband, by his talents, in the field. The great duchess wrote as follows:—

"My dear Lady Huntingdon is always so very good to me, that I must accept your very obliging invitation to accompany you to hear Mr. Whitefield. I do hope that I shall be all the better for all your excellent advice. God knows we all need mending, and none more than myself. I have lived to see great changes in the world, have acted a conspicuous part myself, and now hope, in my old days,[159] to obtain mercy from God, as I never expect any at the hands of my fellow-creatures. The Duchess of Ancaster, Lady Townshend, and Lady Cobham were exceedingly pleased with many observations in Mr. Whitefield's sermon at St. Sepulchre's Church, which has made me lament ever since that I did not hear it, as it might have been the means of doing me some good; for good, alas! I do want, but where among the corrupt sons and daughters of Adam am I to find it?"[160]

Another aristocratic lady, who, in these early days of Methodism, attended the preaching of Whitefield and the Wesleys, was the proud Duchess of Buckingham, a natural daughter of King James the Second, whose first husband was the Earl of Anglesey (from whom she was divorced), and her second, John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, in whose house (now Buckingham Palace) she died, in 1742. This quasi-royal duchess heard the Methodists, but disliked their doctrines. Writing to the Countess of Huntingdon, she said:—

"I thank your ladyship for the information concerning the Methodist preachers. Their doctrines are most repulsive, and strongly tinctured with impertinence and disrespect towards their superiors, in perpetually endeavouring to level all ranks, and do away with all distinctions. It is monstrous to be told that you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches that crawl on the earth. This is highly offensive and insulting;[161] and I cannot but wonder that your ladyship should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good breeding. However, I shall be most happy to accept your kind offer of accompanying me to hear your favourite preacher, and shall wait your arrival. The Duchess of Queensbury insists on my patronising her on this occasion; consequently, she will be an addition to our party."[161]

The Duchess of Queensbury, to whom allusion has just been made, was the second daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, and was celebrated for extraordinary beauty, humour, and vivacity, by Pope, Swift, and other poets, particularly by Prior, in one of his well-known ballads. For a time, she constantly attended the ministry of Whitefield and his brother Methodists, and was specially partial to the preaching of Charles Wesley and Benjamin Ingham.[162]

Other distinguished hearers might be mentioned. Lady Lisburne, for example, was a frequent attendant on the preaching of the first Methodists, and was roused, by their powerful ministry, to a lively concern for eternal things. Also, Lady Hinchinbroke, grand-daughter of the Duke of Montague, and mother of the celebrated John George Montague, fourth Earl of Sandwich. This noble lady was deeply affected by the sermons of Whitefield and Wesley, and wrote as follows to the Countess of Huntingdon:—

"I am extremely sensible of the honour your ladyship has done me by the book which you have sent. Indeed, I stand in need of all your sympathy and all your unwearied exertions; for I feel myself utterly helpless, miserable, and guilty in the sight of heaven; and, were it not for the ray of hope which I have in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, would be driven to despair and ruin. Have you heard where Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Wesley are to preach this week?"[163]

But, leaving his aristocratic hearers, it is time to return to Whitefield himself. On the day after his ordination at Oxford, he came back to London, where he spent the next three weeks. An immense amount of work was thrust into this brief interval. He gave Charles Wesley "so promising an account of Oxford," that Charles felt "strongly inclined" to settle there, as he had been urged to do at the recently[162] held conference of Oxford Methodists.[164] He transacted business with the Trustees of Georgia, who presented him to the living of Savannah, and granted him five hundred acres of land for his projected Orphan House. He was frequent in his attendance at the Moravian meetings in Fetter Lane, "where," says he, "we sometimes spent whole nights in prayer, and where I have often seen the people overwhelmed with the Divine Presence, and crying out, 'Will God indeed dwell with men upon earth?'" He spent an "afternoon in visiting some Dissenting brethren, who were Christians indeed,"—an act of courtesy which his friend Wesley carefully avoided. He went even to Stoke Newington, to have an interview with the arch-Dissenter of the day—the celebrated Dr. Watts—who, though in great debility and suffering, was actively employed in publishing a pamphlet on one of the most debateable of topics, "Civil Power in Things Sacred."[165] During his three weeks' stay in London, Whitefield preached more than twenty times, and expounded almost fifty. He began to make collections for his Orphan House in Georgia. He had a long conference with an opposing clergyman, who objected to private Societies and extempore prayer, grounding his objection on the authority of the Canons and the Act of Uniformity. Whitefield replied that the Canons and the Act of Uniformity referred to public worship only, whereas that of the Societies was not public worship, but only "an imitation of the primitive Christians, who continued daily with one accord in the temple, and yet exhorted one another from house to house." He had another conference, which lasted till after midnight, with two Church of England clergymen, who were "strong opposers of the doctrine of the new birth." Whitefield says, "God enabled me, with great simplicity, to declare what He had done for my soul, which made them look upon me as a madman." Besides his work in London, Whitefield went to Bexley, where he preached, and spent two delightful evenings with the Delamottes. He also went to Gravesend, where he preached in the churches twice, and in private[163] houses expounded thrice; his journey there and back being performed by boat on the river Thames—a six hours' sail in the depth of winter, begun from London at three o'clock in the morning, and from Gravesend at eleven o'clock at night. The churches in London that he was allowed to occupy were: St. Helen's in Bishopsgate Street, where his friend Broughton was minister; Christ Church, in Spitalfields; St. Catherine's; Islington; Wapping; St. George's-in-the-East; and St. Margaret's, Westminster.

"I sleep but little, very little," said he, in a letter dated January 27, 1739. "Had I a thousand hands, I could employ them all. I scare know what it is to have an idle moment. I thank you for blessing God on my behalf. I want a thousand tongues to praise Him. He still works by me more and more. Subscriptions for erecting an orphan house come in apace. On Monday seven-night, God willing, I set out for Bristol, with Mr. Seward. Mr. Howel Harris and I are correspondents, blessed be God! May I follow him as he does Jesus Christ! How he outstrips me!"

As Messrs. Seward and Harris will occupy a somewhat prominent position in the ensuing pages, a brief account of them may be acceptable.

William Seward, together with his brothers, Thomas, Benjamin, and Henry, were natives of Badsey, a hamlet about two and a half miles from Evesham, and were men of independent property. Thomas was a clergyman of the Church of England, and will be mentioned hereafter. Little is known respecting Benjamin, excepting that he spent some years at Cambridge, was unimpeachable in his morals, was converted in the spring of 1739,[166] and occasionally employed himself in composing hymns. The following was appended to an 8vo. pamphlet, published in the year of his conversion, and entitled "The Conduct and Doctrine of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield vindicated." Though lacking poetic merit, it is not without interest as exhibiting the spirit of one of Whitefield's great admirers:—

"Come, blessed Jesus, quickly come,
And mark the bright celestial way;
Within my breast erect Thy throne,
Nor let me faint through long delay.
I'm weary of these earthly toys,
The world, and all its flattering charms;
My heart pants after purer joys,
And Christ alone my bosom warms.
With coldness and contempt, I view
These vain, these transitory scenes;
Since faith hath form'd my soul anew,
And wak'd me from Egyptian dreams.
Methinks a ray of heavenly light
Already darts upon my soul;
Methinks the promis'd land's in sight;
My heart's the needle, Christ the pole.
What though, for pageantry and state,
Others to earthly treasures trust,
And, aiming falsely to be great,
Like the vile serpents lick the dust:
My hope, my treasure, and my rest—
My all-sufficiency's above;
The kingdoms of the world possess'd
Are vain without my Saviour's love."

Henry Seward, the eldest of the brothers, was married to a Baptist wife, and was, as will be seen, a violent opposer of the Methodists.

William was drawn to seek after God and serve Him as early as the year 1728. He laboured hard and successfully in reviving the charity schools in London, particularly those in Langbourn Ward, Castle Baynard Ward, Billingsgate Ward, Vintry Ward, in the parish of St. George the Martyr, and in Hackney. For the school at the last-mentioned place, he raised, by subscriptions and public collections, an income of 150 per annum, and that notwithstanding the "opposition of the minister, the churchwardens, and the vestrymen of the parish."[167]

In the year 1738, he became acquainted with Charles Wesley and the Methodists, and, in the month of November, found peace with God through faith in Christ. Oddly enough, he was allowed to be present at the Conference of Oxford Methodists, already mentioned, on January[165] 5, 1739.[168] A few weeks afterwards, he became Whitefield's travelling companion; and went with him to America in August, 1739.

William Seward returned to England, not to stay in it, but, 1. To induce Mr. Hutchins, the Oxford Methodist, to take the management of Whitefield's Orphan House in Georgia. 2. To convince the Trustees of Georgia that three things were necessary to establish the Colony, viz.: "an allowance of negroes, a free title to the lands, and an independent magistracy." 3. To collect subscriptions for a negro school in Pennsylvania. And, 4. To bring the money, lodged in the hands of the trustees, for building the church at Savannah.

These were the public reasons why Mr. Seward returned to England; but there were also private reasons. Mr. Seward had bought five thousand acres of land on the forks of Delaware, for which he had paid 2,200 sterling; and he hoped to beg this amount of money in England, and then to give the land for the erection of a negro school, and also a location for a number of "English friends, where," to use Seward's words, "they might worship God in their own way, without being thought Enthusiasts for so doing." He also intended to buy a ship in England for the purpose of conveying the refugees to their foreign home. The place was to be a sort of "Hernhuth" in America. Besides this, William Seward seems to have been a widower with an only daughter, who was being educated by a private governess. He was now desirous to remove his daughter to Georgia, and to complete her education in Whitefield's Orphan House. With reference to this, he wished to buy of the Trustees of Georgia five hundred acres of land adjoining the Orphan House estate, provided he could have a perfect title to leave it to the Orphan House, if he thought desirable.

From this concise statement it will be seen that Mr. Seward had abundance of business to transact in England; but besides all this, there was a family quarrel exceedingly unpleasant. The elder brother, Henry Seward, was wroth at his brothers becoming Methodists. Three months before[166] William's return to England, Benjamin Seward was seriously ill. "His fever was called madness." His letters were intercepted, and his servants set over him as spies. Charles Wesley went to see him, but was not admitted to his presence, and wrote:—"Henry Seward fell upon me without preface or ceremony. I was the downfall of his brother, had picked his pocket, ruined his family, come now to get more money, was a scoundrel, rascal, and so forth, and deserved to have my gown stripped over my ears. He concluded with threatening how he would beat me, if he could but catch me on Bengeworth Common." On the day after this angry interview, Charles Wesley attempted to preach. Henry Seward came and said, "Four constables are ordered to apprehend you if you come near my brother's wall," the place appointed for preaching; "so come at your peril." Charles writes:—

"I walked towards the place. Mr. Henry met me with threats and revilings. I began singing—

'Shall I, for fear of feeble man,
Thy Spirit's course in me restrain?'

He ran about raving like a madman, and quickly got some men for his purpose, who laid hold on me. Henry cried, 'Take him away, and duck him.' I broke out into singing with T. Maxfield, and let them carry me whither they would. At the bridge in the lane, they left me. There I stood out of the liberty of the corporation, and gave out—

'Angel of God, whate'er betide,
Thy summons I obey!'"

Charles then proceeded to preach to a congregation of some hundreds, from the words, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

Eight days after this, Charles Wesley and Henry Seward had another altercation. The country squire again lost his manners, and after calling the poor Methodist preacher, "rogue, rascal, villain, and pickpocket," actually wrung his nose. Charles departed, rejoicing that he was counted worthy to suffer shame in the cause of Christ.[169]

Three months after this disreputable scene, William Seward arrived in England, and most likely visited his brothers at[167] Badsey. Be that as it may, when William and Charles Wesley met at Bristol, in the month of September following, William was evidently prejudiced against his friend. Charles writes:—

"1740, September 23. Mr. W. Seward came, and was very cordial. We prayed, rejoiced, and gave thanks. If I did not love him the better for his opinion, I am sure it made me more industrious to confirm my old love towards him. I carried him to our colliers. He spoke a few words to them, which did not convince me of his call to preach. In our return, he told me Mrs. Grevil and others had urged him to claim the Room in the Horse-fair,[170] but he abhorred their baseness. Next day, he told me he was in a mist, the Baptists last night having laboured hard to make him oppose me publicly. Before we parted, all was set right again; but a few hours after, he came from the Baptists, and utterly renounced both me and my brother, in bitter words of hatred, which they had put into his mouth."[171]

William Seward's work was nearly ended. Immediately after this painful interview in Bristol, he proceeded to Wales, where he joined Howell Harris, and met with most brutal treatment. At Caerleon, where he preached, he was "pelted with dung and dirt, eggs and plumbstones." Some hard substance hit him on the eye, the result of the blow being a total loss of sight. But even this was not the worst. At Hay, a man struck him so severely on the head, that, a few days afterwards, on October 22, 1740,[172] his life was ended at the early age of thirty-eight. On hearing of his death, Wesley wrote:—

"1740, October 27. The surprising news of poor Mr. Seward's death was confirmed. Surely God will maintain His own cause. Righteous art Thou, O Lord!"

On the same occasion, Charles Wesley wrote:—

"1740, October 28. I was exceedingly shocked with the news of Mr. Seward's death; but he is taken from the evil; rescued out of the hands of wicked men."

This is a long account of Seward and his brothers; but their names have always been so prominent in the early[168] career of Whitefield and the Wesleys, that the writer hopes to be forgiven for collecting the hitherto scattered scraps of information concerning them, and presenting that information in a connected form.

After William Seward's death, his brothers are never mentioned in Methodistic annals.

The account of Howell Harris shall be shorter. It is taken from a document written by himself. This memorable Welshman was born at Trevecka, on January 23, 1714, and was, therefore, a few months older than his friend Whitefield. In 1732, when his father died, Harris took charge of a country school. In 1735, he found peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Converted himself, he had an intense desire to convert others. He writes:—

"Swearing, lying, reviling, drunkenness, fighting, and gaming overspread the country. Ministers were not in earnest, and their instructions, delivered in an unfeeling and indifferent manner, seemed to have no effect upon their hearers. I could not help making it my business to speak to all I came near of their danger. Death and judgment, and the necessity of praying and receiving the sacrament, were the principal subjects of my conversation. I set up family worship in my mother's house, and on Sunday mornings some of the neighbours would come to hear me read the lessons and psalms, etc."

He proceeds to relate how he also commenced meetings on Sunday evenings, and exhorted the poor people who flocked to hear him. "Thus," he says, "I spent that summer, 1735."

In November following, he relinquished his school, and entered himself at St. Mary's Hall, Oxford; but the "irregularities and immoralities which surrounded" him were such, that he kept only a single term, and returned to Wales. He again set up a school at Trevecka. He visited from house to house, until he had visited the greatest part of his native parish. His congregation increased, and the houses in which they met could not contain them. Many of his hearers became penitent, and cried to God for the pardon of their sins. Family worship in numerous instances was begun. The churches were soon crowded, and likewise the Lord's table. Then persecution arose. The magistrates threatened him with fines for holding meetings in private houses. The[169] clergy did their utmost to discourage him, and, at the end of the year 1737, expelled him from his school.

Up to the present, in the day-time he had taught his scholars, and at night had held meetings. Now he had both days and nights at his disposal, and preached to crowded congregations thirty or forty times every week. The magistrates threatened him more furiously than ever; and the clergy preached against him, and branded him as a deceiver; but, in several counties, a general reformation was witnessed. Public diversions became unfashionable, and religion became the common talk. Places of worship were everywhere thronged, and, in many places, Societies were set up. The Rev. Griffith Jones began his charity schools. The Rev. Daniel Rowlands and some other young clergymen began to preach in the same extemporary manner as Harris did. The work grew, and so also did the persecution. In Montgomeryshire, "a knight, a clergyman, two justices, a constable, and a mob," came while Harris was preaching, and charged him with a breach of the Conventicle Act. The preacher told the magistrates that he was a Conformist, and therefore not subject to the penalties of the Act in question. At Machynlleth he was surrounded by a mob, "threatening, swearing, and flinging stones," the leaders of the gang being a clergyman and a lawyer. He writes:—

"By the trials through which I often passed, I was at length so accustomed to them that I was daily in expectation of them. I became more acquainted with the world and myself, and could attest the truth of that expression which at first seems harsh, 'Man is a mixture of beast and devil.'"

It is a remarkable fact, that, up to this date, Howell Harris had never seen either Whitefield or the Wesleys. Whitefield, on his return from Georgia, heard that the young evangelist, without episcopal ordination or any sort of ecclesiastical authority whatever, was preaching in the towns and villages of Wales thirty or forty times every week; and, notwithstanding the opposition and the violence of clergymen, magistrates, and mobs, had already been the means of accomplishing a marvellous reformation. The results were quite sufficient to constrain Whitefield to recognize the[170] Welsh itinerant as a fellow-labourer in the same great work. Hence, only a few days after his arrival in England, Whitefield wrote to Howell Harris as follows:—

"London, December 20, 1738.

"My dear Brother,—Though I am unknown to you in person, I have long been united to you in spirit, and have been rejoiced to hear how the good pleasure of the Lord prospered in your hand. Go on, my dear brother, go on. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. There have been, and will be, many adversaries; but be not afraid. He who sent you will assist, comfort, and protect you, and make you more than conqueror through His great love. I am a living monument of this, for the Divine strength has often been magnified in my weakness. I have tasted that the Lord is gracious; I have felt His power; and, from experience, can say that, in doing or suffering the will of Jesus Christ, there is great reward.

"Blessed be His holy name! There seems to be a great pouring out of the Spirit in London, and we walk in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and are edified.

"You see, my dear Brother, the freedom I have taken in writing to you. If you would favour me with a line or two, by way of answer, you would greatly rejoice both me and many others. Why should we not tell one another what God has done for our souls?

"My dear Brother, I love you in the bowels of Jesus Christ, and wish you may be the spiritual father of thousands, and shine, as the sun in the firmament, in the kingdom of your heavenly Father.

"Your affectionate, though unworthy brother in Christ,
"George Whitefield."[173]

Such was Whitefield's warm-hearted salutation to the young lay-preacher in the principality of Wales. Harris's reply was equally cordial. The following is an extract from it:—

"Glamorgan, January 8, 1739.

"Dear Brother,—I was most agreeably surprised last night by a letter from you. Though this is the first time of our correspondence, I am no stranger to you. When I first heard of your labours and success, my soul was united to you, and engaged to send addresses to heaven on your behalf. When I read your Diary, I had uncommon influence of the Divine Presence shining on my soul almost continually, but I little thought our good Lord and Master intended I should ever see your handwriting.

Oh how ravishing it is to hear of such demonstrations of the Divine love and favour to London! And, to make your joy greater still, I have some good news to send you from Wales. There is a great revival in Cardiganshire,[171] through Mr. D. Rowlands, a Church minister, who has been much owned and blessed in Carmarthenshire also. We have also a sweet prospect in Breckonshire and part of Monmouthshire. And the revival prospers in this county where I am now. There is also here a very useful young dissenting minister, who is a man of great charity. There is another of the same character in Montgomeryshire. There are two or three young curates in Glamorganshire, who are well-wishers to the cause of God; and we have an exceedingly valuable clergyman in Breckonshire. But enemies are many and powerful. Oh that I had more love in my soul, more humble zeal, and spiritual boldness!"[174]

After this long but not useless digression, it is time to return to Whitefield.

He was detained in England much longer than he expected, but he was not unmindful of his flock in Georgia. In a letter "to the inhabitants of Savannah," dated January 19, 1739, he says:—

"You are upon my heart, so that I am ready to live and die with you. As soon as my affairs are finished in England, I shall return to you. The trustees have now appointed me minister of Savannah, and granted all I desired of them, so that I have nothing to do but to watch over your souls, that I may present you blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be steadfast, therefore, my brethren, be unmoveable. Carefully attend to the words spoken by your present pastor. Let love be without dissimulation. Let not slander so much as be named amongst you, as becometh saints. Be not slothful in business, yet take heed that you are fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; and assure yourselves you are continually remembered by your most affectionate pastor,

"George Whitefield."[174]

Before leaving for the West of England, Whitefield's last Sunday in London was a memorable one. He shall relate his own story.

"1739. Sunday, February 4. Preached in the morning at St. George's in the East; collected 18 for the Orphan House; and had, I believe, six hundred communicants, which highly offended the officiating curate. Preached again at Christ Church, Spitalfields; and gave thanks and sang psalms at a private house. Went thence to St. Margaret's Westminster; but, something breaking belonging to the coach, could not get thither till the middle of the prayers. Went through the people to the minister's pew, but, finding it locked, I returned to the vestry till the sexton could be found. Being there informed that another minister intended to preach, I desired several times that I might go home. My friends would by no[172] means consent, telling me I was appointed by the trustees to preach; and that, if I did not, the people would go out of the church. At my request, some went to the trustees, churchwardens, and minister; and, whilst I was waiting for an answer, and the last psalm was being sung, a man came, with a wand in his hand, whom I took for the proper church officer, and told me I was to preach. I, not doubting but the minister was satisfied, followed him to the pulpit, and God enabled me to preach with greater power than I had done all the day before.

"After this, I prayed with and gave an exhortation to a company that waited for me. Then I went to Fetter Lane, where I spent the whole night in watching unto prayer, and discussing several important points with many truly Christian friends. About four in the morning, we went all together, and broke bread at a poor sick sister's room; and so we parted, I hope, in a spirit not unlike that of the primitive Christians."

This is soon related, but the service at St. Margaret's must have further notice. It engendered a rancorous controversy, which cannot, in fairness, be omitted.

In a long leading article in the Weekly Miscellany of February 10, 1739, the following account was published:—

"On Sunday last, our new Methodists discovered a more violent temper than is consistent with their great pretensions to meekness and sanctity. The story is as follows, and it was related to me by the gentleman that read the prayers:—

"At St. Margaret's, Westminster, there is a Society Evening Lecture; and when the Reader came, he found in the churchyard, at the west door, a number of people singing psalms. When he got into the church, he was affronted by some unknown persons as he passed through a great crowd to the vestry. As soon as the clergyman appointed to preach came, he was solicited (if an overbearing importunity may be so called) to resign the pulpit to Mr. Whitefield, who (as is supposed by his not appearing at the prayers) was waiting at some neighbouring house to know the issue of their application. But the preacher continuing as determined to do his duty as Mr. Whitefield was to do it for him, they at last effected that by force which they could not gain by treaty. So the preacher was safely confined in his pew, which was locked (the sexton being appointed by the Society, and in Mr. Whitefield's interest), and guarded by several lusty fellows; while another party conveyed the unlicensed intruder triumphantly up into the pulpit, and kept sentry on the stairs for fear he should be taken down in as forcible a manner as he got up."

Mr. Venn, the writer of this account, then adds:—

"There are many instances of these unauthorised teachers using fraudulent and unfair means of getting into pulpits against the inclination of the proper minister or appointed preacher. Sometimes they ask the[173] pulpit for a friend, and then send Mr. Whitefield or some other Methodist. Another method has been by slipping up into the pulpit as soon as the prayers are over, without asking any leave at all. And all these disorders, irregularities, and artifices are practised by persons who have no warrant, but their pretended call from heaven, to preach in any church in the diocese."

The reader has thus before him the two conflicting statements. A fortnight afterwards, in the same newspaper, Mr. Bennett, one of the stewards of the Society, whose evening lecture at St. Margaret's had caused so much uproar, declared that the simple facts were these:—

"On Sunday, February 4, Mr. Whitefield, at the desire of the Friendly Society, came from Spitalfields Church to St. Margaret's, of Westminster. He would have gone into the minister's seat, but could not, there being no one to unlock the door. He then went into the vestry, and stayed there during prayers. The usual preacher before the Society[175] was out of town, otherwise they would have acquainted him with their desire of Mr. Whitefield preaching, which they doubt not but he would have complied with. That he had desired another to preach, they knew not, when they asked Mr. Whitefield to do it; but when he was come, in compliance with their frequently repeated desire, they did insist upon his preaching."

Mr. Bennett adds, that all the rest of Mr. Venn's letter, relating to the affront offered to the Reader of Prayers, the Rev. Mr. Durant; the "overbearing importunity" brought to bear upon the Rev. J. Majendie, the gentleman who had promised to preach for the absent lecturer; the assumed waiting of Whitefield in a neighbouring house; the employment of the sexton in Whitefield's interest; the taking of the pulpit by "force;" and the sentry of lusty fellows on the pulpit stairs, were not facts, but fiction, created by the writer's "own ingenuity, purely to heighten and embellish his story."

Much more was printed respecting the St. Margaret's fracas; but the case, in brief, was this: The Rev. Mr. Morgan, the Lecturer, having to be out of town, asked the Rev. J. Majendie to supply his place on February 4, at St. Margaret's, and Mr. Majendie readily consented to do so. Meanwhile, the officers of the Friendly Society, ascertaining[174] that their "usual lecturer" would be from home, and very improperly taking it for granted that he had provided no one to occupy the pulpit for him, rashly went to Whitefield, and obtained from him a promise to preach in Mr. Morgan's stead. When Whitefield found that Mr. Majendie was present, as Mr. Morgan's properly engaged substitute, he wished to retire, and would have done so, if, to use Mr. Bennett's own expression, the officers of the Society had not "insisted upon his preaching."

This is all that can be said about this disreputable brawling in St. Margaret's. Mr. Morgan and Mr. Majendie were blameless. Mr. Bennett and his friends were highly culpable in setting aside the arrangement made by their absent Lecturer; and Whitefield, when he had ascertained that Mr. Majendie had come to preach, would have acted a more courteous and less ignoble part, if, instead of taking Mr. Morgan's pulpit, he had at once retired to the Moravian Meeting House in Fetter Lane.

Some will think that more space has been devoted to this unhappy affair than its importance merits; but those who have had the perseverance to make themselves acquainted with all the Methodist facts of the year 1739, will think otherwise, as there can be no doubt that this unfortunate contretemps in Westminster was the real or pretended occasion of much of the clerical opposition which Whitefield soon encountered in Bristol, Bath, and other places; and it certainly was the beginning of the furious onslaughts upon Methodism and the Methodists, which, for so many months, disgraced the Weekly Miscellany and Dr. Hooker, its trenchant editor. Several of these attacks will be noticed hereafter; but one must be introduced now, inasmuch as its date is nearly the same as that of the imbroglio at St. Margaret's. In his leading article of February 10, 1739, Mr. Hooker[176] wrote:—

"At first, we only looked upon the Methodists as well-meaning, zealous people, whom the irreligious boldness of these wicked times had driven somewhat too far into the contrary extreme of infidelity. They were a[175] sort of Protestant supererogators, that would be righteous over-much; and there were hopes that, when this devotional effervescence had boiled over, they would return to that proper medium where true piety and Christian prudence fix the centre. But, instead of that, they have proceeded so far as to eject the Liturgy and the usual Expositors out of their meetings, and have declared for extemporary effusions both in their prayers and expoundings. The laity are allowed to be teachers, and even women, as I am informed, begin to usurp public offices. They pretend to a sort of sinless perfection, and boast of inward joys above other Christians. They distinguish themselves from others by having received the faith, with which, and other cant phrases, they are united together like a sect of Religious Freemasons. In general, they seem to be practising over the lesson set them by the old Puritans before the beginning of the grand rebellion."

Three days after he preached at St. Margaret's, Whitefield, accompanied by William Seward, set out for Bristol.

"I never was more opposed," says he, "and never met with so great success. I hope I shall learn more and more every day, that no place is amiss for preaching the Gospel. God forbid that the word of God should be bound because some deny the use of their churches! The more I am bid to hold my peace, the more earnestly will I lift up my voice like a trumpet, and tell the people what must be done in them before they can be finally saved by Jesus Christ."[177]

Even while travelling, Whitefield could not refrain from preaching. At Windsor, he "expounded in the school-house to a great number of people with freedom and power." At Basingstoke, he preached for an hour in a large room thronged with people, while a mob outside shouted and threw stones at the windows. The next day, three large rooms were filled. Some began to interrupt: but "God," says he, "enabled me to speak with such power that they were quite struck dumb and confounded. Near twenty came to converse with me, and to hear the word of God. How thankful ought I to be to my dear Master for sending me hither! A vestry, I find, was called to stop my proceedings, and I hear I am to be presented to the Diocesan."

At Basingstoke, also, he wrote a letter to a friend, which contains a paragraph too valuable to be omitted.

"Basingstoke, February 8, 1739.

"Just now God has brought us to Basingstoke, where I hope an effectual door will be opened before we leave. Oh, my dear friend, more[176] and more do I see the benefit of confessing our blessed Lord before men. He has begun, He will carry on, He will finish the good work in our souls. We have nothing to do, but to lay hold on Him by faith, and to depend on Him for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Not but we must be workers together with Him; for a true faith in Jesus Christ will not suffer us to be idle. No: it is an active, lively, restless principle; it fills the heart, so that it cannot be easy till it is doing something for Jesus Christ."

At Dummer, the little parish where he once was curate, Whitefield met his old Oxford friends, Messrs. Kinchin and Hutchins, with whom he took sweet counsel, sung psalms, and prayed.

At Salisbury, he writes, "I paid a visit to an old disciple, my brother Wesley's mother," at that time visiting her son-in-law, Westley Hall.[178] Here also he sought an interview with the well-known sceptic, Thomas Chubb, resident in an adjoining village, respecting his "True Gospel of Jesus Christ asserted;" but the "free-thinker," (who, by the way, regularly attended the services of his parish church,) happened not to be at home.

On February 14th, Whitefield arrived at Bath, and immediately waited upon Dr. C., desiring the use of the Abbey Church, to preach a sermon for the Orphan House, the Trustees of Georgia having obtained the consent of the bishop more than twelve months before. "But," he writes, "Dr. C. was pleased to give me an absolute refusal to preach either on that or on any other occasion, without a positive order from the king or bishop. I asked him his[177] reasons. He said he was not obliged to give me any. Upon which, I took my leave and retired with my friends, and prayed for him most fervently." On the evening of the same day, Whitefield came to Bristol, where his old friends welcomed him with the utmost joy; but his chief pleasure, on his arrival, was, not the greetings of his friends, but the calumny of his enemies. He writes: "Who can express the joy with which I was received? To add to my comfort, many letters came to my hands from London friends. But the chiefest pleasure was, some one had thought me considerable enough to write a letter in the Weekly Miscellany against me, and containing several untruths about my preaching at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Thou shalt answer for me, my Lord and my God! Yet a little while, and we shall all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ!"

Next morning, Whitefield first of all waited upon the Rev. Mr. Gibbs, Vicar of St. Mary Redcliffe, and asked the loan of his church, to preach a sermon on behalf of the contemplated Orphan House in Georgia. Mr. Gibbs refused, saying, "he could not lend his church without a special order from the chancellor." Nothing daunted, Whitefield went at once to the chancellor, who declined to issue an order for Mr. Gibbs, but stated that if any clergyman thought proper to lend his church to Whitefield, he (the chancellor) would not prohibit it; nevertheless, he advised Whitefield to go to some other town until the bishop had been consulted. Whitefield was far too ardent and impetuous to wait for the bishop's leave, and, hence, from the chancellor, he proceeded direct to the residence of the dean. Having shewn him his "Georgia Accounts," he asked, "Can there be any just objection against my preaching in churches for the Orphan House?" "I cannot tell," replied the dean, "but I will give you an answer some other time; now I am expecting company." "Will you be pleased to fix a time, sir?" "I will send to you," said the dean; and so ended Whitefield's interview, number three.

It cannot be denied, that, in all this, there was a display of more self-confidence than is commendable. Whitefield was a young man, not yet twenty-five; he had neither high rank, nor special scholarship to recommend him to the[178] Church dignitaries of the day; his ecclesiastical standing was extremely insignificant—only incumbent of the distant and small settlement of Savannah. It is true, he had, a year and a half ago, moved both Bristol and the metropolis by his earnest, startling, godly eloquence; but, during the interval, his injudicious friends had published his Journals, written with the utmost artlessness, but containing much never meant for the public eye; and, within the last few days, by the rash proceedings of certain of his admirers, he had been placed in an equivocal position at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Remembering all this, it was doubtless a bold—some would call it a presumptuous—act to ask the loan of the Abbey Church, at Bath, and, next to the Cathedral, of the finest church in Bristol; and further, it is hardly surprising that his well-intentioned applications were refused.

Whitefield was baffled, but not discomfited. Churches, for the present, might be closed against him, but there was Bristol prison; there were the rooms of the Religious Societies; and there was Kingswood Hill.

In the afternoon of the very day, when his diplomacy with three of the principal ecclesiastics in Bristol was such a mortifying failure, he tried his skill with another functionary of a more humble order. At this period, the keeper of Bristol Prison was a Mr. Dagge, whom Dr. Johnson has immortalized in his Life of the poet Savage.[179] Mr. Dagge[179] had been amongst the firstfruits of Whitefield's ministry in Bristol prison, in 1737,[180] and Whitefield's application to him was more successful than those he had made to the vicar, the chancellor, and the dean. He writes:—

"About three in the afternoon, God having given me great favour in the gaoler's eyes, I preached a sermon on the Penitent Thief, to the poor prisoners in Newgate, and collected fifteen shillings for them."

This was the beginning. Next morning, he made an arrangement, that, while he remained in Bristol, he would read prayers and preach to the prisoners every day, an arrangement which was faithfully fulfilled, until the 12th of March, when the mayor and the sheriffs thought it their duty to interfere, and absolutely commanded Mr. Dagge not to allow Whitefield to preach in the prison-house again, alleging, as their reason, that he insisted upon the necessity of our being born again—a thing which those custodians, if not regenerators, of outcast men, were unable to understand.

Whitefield's preaching to the prisoners, however, was but a small part of his public labours in Bristol and in the neighbourhood. His present sojourn here lasted between six and seven weeks, during which he preached above sixty times, and expounded fifty.

Closing the churches against him was not the way to silence him. His "heart was hot within him;" while he mused "the fire burned;" and to speak with his tongue became almost a necessity of life. For the present, he had the use of the city prison; but fancy a man like Whitefield being satisfied with a cure of souls all under a single roof! The opportunity of preaching to Mr. Dagge's domestics was important, and doubtless useful; but it was not enough; and, hence, as Whitefield had no other place in which to preach, away he went, and, for the first time in England, in the bleak month of February, preached out of doors, to a congregation of colliers, on Kingswood Hill. He writes:—

"1739. February 17, Saturday. About one in the afternoon, I went with my brother (William) Seward, and another friend to Kingswood, and was most delightfully entertained by an old disciple of the Lord. My[180] bowels have long yearned toward the poor colliers, who are very numerous, and as sheep having no shepherd. After dinner, therefore, I went upon a mount, and spake to as many people as came unto me. They were upwards of two hundred. Blessed be God that I have now broken the ice! I believe I was never more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields. Some may censure me; but if I thus pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."[181]

Thus began, apparently without intention, the marvellous outdoor services which distinguished the career of Whitefield and the Wesleys. This was only three days after Whitefield came to Bristol. He would have preferred the churches; but, even in the midst of winter, was thankful for the open fields. It is a remarkable fact, however, that, though when he arrived in Bristol, every church was closed against him, on the very day immediately succeeding that on which he set his pulpit on Kingswood Hill, the pulpits of three of the Bristol churches were freely offered him. Hear what he says:—

"1739. February 18, Sunday. Arose this morning about six, being called up by near fifty young persons, whom I appointed to meet at my sister's house, and with whom I spent above an hour in prayer, psalm-singing, and a warm exhortation. Soon after this, I read prayers and preached at Newgate, to a large and very attentive congregation. At ten, I preached at St. Werburg's, to a large audience. I thought yesterday I should not have the use of any pulpit; but God, who has the hearts of all men in His hands, disposed the Rev. Mr. Penrose to lend me his; and the Rev. Mr. Gibbs sent to me and offered me the use both of St. Thomas's and St. Mary Redcliffe. I accepted the latter of these, and preached to such a congregation as my eyes never yet saw. Many went away for want of room, and Mr. Gibbs and his lady were exceeding civil both to me and Mr. Seward."

On the following day, Whitefield had the use of another church, the parish church of St. Philip and Jacob, where[181] he preached, to a great multitude, in the afternoon, and collected 18 for the Orphan House in Georgia. "Thousands," says he, "went away, because there was no room for them within."

This was too much for the equanimity of the Chancellor of the Bristol Diocese. Only four days before, he had virtually prohibited Whitefield preaching in any of the Bristol churches, without the bishop's leave being first obtained; and yet already had the young preacher had the hardihood to occupy three of the city churches, and was not at all unlikely to preach in others. Official patience with the ordained upstart was exhausted, and the apparitor was sent to summons Whitefield to the court of the Rev. Mr. R——l, the ecclesiastical lawyer of the Bishop of Bristol, versed in civil and canon law, and solemnly appointed to direct the bishop in the criminal and civil causes of the Church.

The summons was served on Tuesday, February 20, and was immediately obeyed. On Whitefield's appearance, the chancellor informed him that he intended "to stop his proceedings;" and that the registrar of the court was present to take down his answers.

Chancellor. "By what authority do you preach in the diocese of Bristol without a license?"

Whitefield. "I thought that custom was grown obsolete. Pray, sir, why did you not ask the Irish clergyman this question, who preached for you last Thursday?"

C. "That is nothing to you." Then, reading part of the Ordination Office, and the canons forbidding ministers to preach in private houses, he asked, "What do you say to these?"

W. "I apprehend these canons do not belong to professed ministers of the Church of England."

C. "But they do."

W. "There is a canon forbidding all clergymen to frequent taverns, and play at cards. Why is not that put in execution?"

C. "Why does not somebody lodge complaints? In such a case it would."

Referring to his printed sermons for his principles, Whitefield asked, "Why am I singled out?"

C. "You preach false doctrine."

W. "I cannot but speak the things that I know, and am resolved to proceed as usual."

C. "Mr. Registrar, observe his answer." Then turning to Whitefield,[182] "I am resolved, sir, if you preach or expound anywhere in this diocese, till you have a license, I will first suspend, and then excommunicate you."

Upon this, Whitefield says, "I took my leave. He waited upon me very civilly to the door, and told me, 'What I do is in the name of the clergy and laity of the city of Bristol;' and so we parted."

With this ended Whitefield's ministry in Bristol churches. Meanwhile, however, he had written both to the Bishop of Bristol, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells. From the former, the celebrated Dr. Butler, author of the well-known "Analogy of Religion," etc., he received an answer on February 24, with which he again waited on the chancellor; but without success. Bishop Butler's letter is not preserved; but Whitefield's reply was as follows:—

"Bristol, February 24, 1739.

"My Lord,—I humbly thank your lordship for the favour of your lordship's letter. It gave abundant satisfaction to me, and many others, who have not failed to pray in a particular manner for your lordship's temporal and eternal welfare. To-day, I shewed your lordship's letter to the chancellor, who (notwithstanding he promised not to prohibit my preaching for the Orphan House if your lordship was only neutral in the affair) has influenced most of the clergy to deny me their pulpits, either on that or any other occasion. Last week, he was pleased to charge me with false doctrine. To-day, he has forgotten that he said so. He also threatened to excommunicate me for preaching in your lordship's diocese. I offered to take a license, but was denied.

"If your lordship should ask, What evil have I done? I answer, None, save that I visit the Religious Societies, preach to the prisoners in Newgate, and to the poor colliers in Kingswood, who, I am told, are little better than heathens. I am charged with being a Dissenter; though many are brought to the Church by my preaching, not one taken from it. The chancellor is pleased to tell me my conduct is contrary to the canons; but I told him that the canons, which he produced, were not intended against such meetings as mine are, where His Majesty is constantly prayed for, and every one is free to see what is done.

"I am sorry to give your lordship this trouble; but I thought it proper to mention these particulars, that I might know wherein my conduct is exceptionable.

"I heartily thank your lordship for your intended benefaction. I think the design is truly good, and will meet with success, because so much opposed.

"God knows my heart. I desire only to promote His glory. If I am[183] spoken evil of, for His sake, I rejoice in it. My Master was long since spoken evil of before me. But I intrude on your lordship's patience.

"I am, with all possible thanks, my lord, your lordship's dutiful son and servant,

"George Whitefield."

So the matter ended. Curiosity would like to know what a man so eminent as Bishop Butler thought of the young Methodist, and what he said to him; but, unfortunately, the bishop's sentiments are not producible.

What was Whitefield to do next? He might at once have gone back to Georgia; but he wanted money to erect his Orphan House, and was not content to return without it. Besides, he seemed to consider the prohibition to preach in churches a kind of call to preach elsewhere. Preach he must. God had called him to the work. By the Bishop of Gloucester, he had been ordained to it. If churches were inaccessible, his only alternative was to make use of private houses, public rooms, and open fields.

The Religious Societies gladly accepted his services. He speaks of the Room of the Baldwin Street Society, together with the stairs and the court below, being crowded with people, profoundly attentive and powerfully affected. Here his expositions, more than once, were of two hours' duration; and, at one of the meetings, upwards of 5 was collected for his Orphan House. At his farewell service, the crowd about the place was such, that he had to climb a ladder, and go over the roof of an adjoining house, in order to get into the Room. The meeting-place of the Nicholas Street Society was quite as thronged as that of Baldwin Street; and here, by his recommendation, a charity school was opened, for which, he says, "I collected at the door myself, and few passed by without throwing in their mites." The Room of the Society without Lawford's Gate seems to have been connected with the parish poorhouse, and was sometimes so crowded, that Whitefield had to preach from the steps leading to the door, and sometimes to stand at the window, and there preach to those outside and those within. On one occasion, at the poorhouse, he made a collection for his contemplated orphanage; "and the poor people," says he, "so loaded my hat, that I wanted some one to hold up my hands. The[184] cheerfulness with which they gave was inexpressible; and the many prayers they joined with their alms will, I hope, lay a good foundation for the house intended to be built."

When Newgate was closed against him, he wrote:—

"1739, March 14. Being forbid preaching in the prison, and, withal, being resolved not to give place to my adversaries, no, not for an hour, I preached at Baptist Mills, a place very near to the city, to three or four thousand people. Blessed be God! all things happen for the furtherance of the Gospel. I now preach to ten times more people than I should if I had been confined to the churches. Surely the devil is blind, and so are his emissaries, or otherwise they would not thus confound themselves. Every day I am invited to fresh places. I will go to as many as I can; the rest I must leave unvisited till it shall please God to bring me back from Georgia."

In this way, Whitefield became an itinerant outdoor preacher. At four different times, he went to Bath. Here he met the Rev. Griffith Jones, a devoted clergyman, who, two years before, had instituted his locomotive schools for educating the children of the poor in Wales, and who gave to Whitefield "an account of the many obstructions" he had encountered in his ministry, and convinced his visitor that he "was but a young soldier just entering the field." Here also he was introduced to the Rev. George Thompson, Vicar of St. Gennys, Cornwall, from the first a hearty friend of the Oxford Methodists.[182] He read prayers at the hospital; and, in the midst of a storm of snow, preached on the "Town Common." On another occasion, he preached out of doors to a congregation of four or five thousand, "of high and low, rich and poor." He writes: "As I went along, I observed many scoffers; and, when I got upon the table to preach, many laughed; but, before I had finished my prayer, all were hushed and silent; and, ere I had concluded my discourse, God, by His word, seemed to impress a great awe[185] upon their minds; for all were deeply attentive, and appeared much affected with what had been spoken."

Whitefield went to Brislington, "a village," says he, "about two miles from Bristol, where was such a vast congregation, that, after I had read prayers in the church, I thought proper to preach in the churchyard,[183] that none might be sent empty away. The people were exceedingly attentive, and God gave me great utterance; and, what was best of all, by the leave of the minister who invited me thither, we had a sacrament, and I hope it was a communion of saints indeed."

He writes again:—

"1739, Friday, March 16. Being much entreated by the people, and horses being sent for me, I went and preached at Elberton, a village about nine miles from Bristol. The clergyman denied me the pulpit; so I preached on a little ascent on which the May-pole was fixed. The weather being cold, and the adjacent villages having but little notice, I had not above two hundred hearers.[184] After dinner, I hastened to Thornbury, and preached to a great part of my morning congregation, and many hundreds besides. Mr. Willis, the incumbent, lent me the church, and used me with great civility, as did two other clergymen who were there present."

Whitefield also preached at Keynsham, where "great numbers of horsemen from Bristol" met him, "besides several thousands from the neighbouring villages." "The church being refused, he preached on a mount."

He likewise went to Publow, "a village about five miles from Bristol. The church was offered; but, not being sufficient to contain a third part of the audience," he preached in the open air.

At Coal-pit Heath, seven miles from Bristol, his congregation numbered above two thousand. The yard of the Glass-house, Bristol, was another of his preaching places. Here his "congregation consisted of many thousands." While he was preaching, "a gentleman (being drunk)" called him a dog, and said he "ought to be whipped at the cart's tail, and offered money to any that would pelt" him; but[186] "the boys and people," instead of pelting the preacher, "began to cast stones and dirt" at the inebriated gentleman.

In Bristol, also, a large bowling-green was lent to Whitefield, where he preached twice in the last week in the month of March. On the first occasion, he says, he had a congregation of "about five thousand people, and made a collection for his poor orphans, till his hands were quite weary." On the second, he writes, "I believe seven or eight thousand people were present. The sun shone bright, and the windows and balconies of the adjoining houses were filled with hearers. I again collected for the Orphan House, and it was near an hour and a half before the people could go out. Many were very faint because of the throng, which was so exceeding great that they trod one upon another."

Strangely enough, at Winterbourne, and at Frenchay, he had, in private, friendly meetings with the Quakers; but, he says, he was not at all convinced by their arguments against paying tithes, an outward call to the ministry, and baptism, and the Lord's supper, though he admits that "their notions about walking and being led by the Spirit were right and good."

On the 6th of March, he and William Seward went off to Wales; the Rev. Richard Hutchins, afterwards Rector of Lincoln College, taking his place at Bristol. This, in its ultimate results, was an important visit; and, though only of four days' duration, was full of incident.

Here, however, an extract from a letter written by William Seward may be interjected.

"New Passage, Bristol-side, March 6, 1739.

"Reverend and dear Brother,—Our dear brother Whitefield goes on from conquering to conquer. Thousands and ten thousands flock to hear the word. He has been in but three churches, and that was at his first coming. The chancellor threatened excommunication, but soon dropt it. However, the glory of God was to be promoted another way; for, being thrust out of the synagogues, our brother has settled a lecture or exposition at Newgate every morning; the place being more convenient than Oxford Castle Chapel. He generally expounds to one, two, or three Societies every night; and has preached seven or eight times on a mount, about two miles from Bristol, where have been from fifteen hundred to fifteen thousand hearers. Last Sunday evening, we sung the hundredth psalm, and all could hear. It is much like singing at a scaffold or stake with multitudes around. At another place, the church not being[187] big enough, he preached from the cross. He preaches once a week on the steps of a workhouse, with a hall behind, and a courtyard almost full before. He has preached in two other parts of Kingswood, among the colliers; and thousands come—horsemen, coaches, chaises, etc. Thus the gospel spreads round the country, for divers come from far—some twenty miles. You may be sure we are set up for being stark mad. We are now going to meet our brother Howell Harris at Cardiff, the minister of which place being here will not even go over in the passage-boat with us. He says our brother shall not have the church; so I hope the fields will be white at Cardiff, as well as at Bristol. There is also a Society there who long for our coming. Our brother Hutchins is at Bristol, and stays till brother Kinchin comes to supply his place. Our dear brother Whitefield would have none of you ('the Oxford Methodists') hidden, but wishes that you would all come out, and be itinerant. The harvest is great, and great encouragement there is to spend and be spent for the good of souls. I hear brother J. Wesley is at Oxford; and that forty gownsmen were lately to hear brother Kinchin expound. O praise the Lord for these His great mercies!

"I am, etc.,
"William Seward."

At the New Passage, where Whitefield and Seward had a twelve hours' detention, the Cardiff clergyman, who refused to go in the "passage-boat" because Whitefield was going, employed his enforced leisure in "shaking his elbows over a gaming table." Whitefield's Journal, published about four months afterwards, contained this incident, and also Whitefield's reflections on it. The clergyman became very wroth, and wrote a letter, dated "Cardiff, July 17, 1739," and signed "Nath. Well," which filled nearly two folio pages of the Weekly Miscellany. Mr. Well calls Whitefield's Journals "rhapsodies, and repetitions of spiritual pride, vanity, and nonsense." He says Whitefield's statement respecting his refusal to go in the passage-boat is not correct, for he actually went in it. Mr. Well's assertion is both true and false. At first he refused to go, as Whitefield says he did; but, during the long detention at the New Passage, Mr. Well changed his mind and went.[185] Mr. Well further states that Whitefield and William Seward "sang hymns the best part of the passage, till the pilot, hindered by their noise from hearing the man appointed to look out, obliged them[188] to give over." He also adds, that Whitefield had advised Howell Harris not to offer himself for holy orders, alleging the "fanatical argument, 'that the success with which the Holy Spirit had blessed his labours was a sufficient evidence and proof of his divine commission, and he needed no other.' And yet his boasted success is this: he has alienated the affections of ignorant people from their parish ministers, and sent most of them to dissenting meeting-houses."

Whitefield's account of his trip to Wales shall be given in his own language. After relating the incident respecting Mr. Well at the New Passage, he writes as follows:—

"1739, Wednesday, March 8. Arose before twelve at night, sung psalms, and prayed; and, the wind being fair, we had a speedy passage over to the Welsh shore. Our business being in haste, and one being sent to guide us, we rode all night, and reached Cardiff about eleven in the morning.

"Whilst I was giving a word of exhortation to some poor people at the inn, Mr. Seward went to ask for the pulpit; but, being denied, we pitched on the Town Hall, which Mr. Seward got by his interest; and, at four in the afternoon, I preached from the judge's seat to about four hundred hearers. Most were very attentive; but some mocked.

"After I came from the seat, I was much refreshed with the sight of my dear brother, Howell Harris.[186] A burning and shining light has he been in those parts; a barrier against profaneness and immorality, and an indefatigable promoter of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. About three or four years God has inclined him to go about doing good. He is now above twenty-five years of age. Twice he has applied (being every way qualified) for holy orders; but he was refused, under a false pretence that he was not of age, though he was then twenty-two years and six months. About a month ago he offered himself again, but was put off. Upon this, he was, and is still, resolved to go on in his work. For these three years, he has discoursed almost twice every day for three or four hours together, not authoritatively as a minister, but as a private person exhorting his Christian brethren. He has been in seven counties, and has made it his business to go to wakes, etc., to turn people from such lying vanities. Many alehouse people, fiddlers, and harpers sadly cry out against him for spoiling their business. He has been made the subject of numbers of sermons; has been threatened with public prosecutions; and had constables sent to apprehend him. But God has blessed him with inflexible[189] courage; and he still continues to go on from conquering to conquer. He is of a most catholic spirit, and loves all who love our Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore he is styled by bigots a Dissenter. Many call him their spiritual father, and, I believe, would lay down their lives for his sake. He discourses generally in a field; but at other times in a house, from a wall, a table, or anything else. He has established near thirty Societies, and still his sphere of action is enlarged daily. He is full of faith and the Holy Ghost.

"When I first saw him, my heart was knit closely to him. I wanted to catch some of his fire, and gave him the right hand of fellowship with my whole heart. We spent the evening in telling one another what God had done for our souls, and took an account of the several Societies, and agreed on such measures as seemed most conducive to promote the common interest of our Lord. I doubt not but Satan envied our happiness; but I hope by the help of God we shall make his kingdom shake. God loves to do great things by weak instruments, that the power may be of God, and not of man. The partition wall of bigotry and party zeal is broken down in Wales, and ministers and teachers of different communions join with one heart and one mind to carry on the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The Lord make all the Christian world thus minded! For till this is done, I fear, we must despair of any great reformation in the Church of God.

"Thursday, March 9. Spent the beginning of the morning in prayer and private discourse with the members of the Religious Society. About ten, I went to the Town Hall, and preached for about an hour and a half to a large assembly of people. My dear brother, Howell Harris, sat close by me. I did not observe any scoffers within; but without some were pleased to honour me so far as to trail a dead fox, and hunt it round about the hall. After I had concluded, I went with many of my hearers, amongst whom were two worthy dissenting ministers and my brother Howell Harris, to public worship. In the Second Lesson were these remarkable words, 'And the high priest, and the scribes, and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him; but they could not find what they might do to Him: for all the people were attentive to hear Him.' In the afternoon, I preached again to the people, without any scoffing or disturbance; and, at six in the evening, I talked for above an hour and a half, and prayed with the Religious Society, whose room was quite thronged.

"Friday, March 10. Left Cardiff about six in the morning, and reached Newport about ten, where many came from Pontypool and other parts to hear me. The minister having readily granted us the pulpit, I preached to about a thousand people. Wales is excellently well prepared for the Gospel of Christ. They have many burning and shining lights both among the Dissenting and Church ministers, amongst whom Mr. Griffith Jones shines in particular.[187] No less than fifty charity schools have been[190] erected by his means, without any settled visible fund, and fresh ones are setting up every day. People make nothing of coming twenty miles to hear a sermon, and great numbers there are who have not only been hearers, but doers also of the word.

"Saturday, March 11. Got safe to Bristol, with my dear fellow-travellers, about eleven at night."

These extracts from Whitefield's Journal are important, as shewing the work which had been begun, and which was prospering in Wales before Whitefield and the Wesleys commenced their great itinerant mission. The reader also has here the beginning of the warm-hearted friendship between Whitefield and Howell Harris, and of their evangelical co-operation, which issued in the founding of the Societies of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, and in other results which cannot now be noticed. What the "measures" were which Whitefield and Harris agreed upon for further promoting the work of God in Wales, it is impossible to determine; but henceforth the two were fellow-workers, and lived in the happiest amity.

Whitefield's labours during the seven weeks he spent at Bristol and in its neighbourhood were marvellous; but the most picturesque were those among the Kingswood[191] colliers. It would be superfluous, it would be wearisome, to describe Kingswood and its ignorant and rude inhabitants, at the period now in question. This has been done so often, that Methodist readers already know all that Methodist writers have to tell on such a subject. Still, Whitefield's first services in this benighted neighbourhood cannot be omitted; for, in reality, Kingswood was the rough cradle in which Methodism was first rocked and nursed.

Here it was, on February 17, that Whitefield, for the first time, dared to be so irregular as to preach in the open air, his congregation consisting of upwards of two hundred persons. Altogether he preached about twenty sermons, from February 17 to April 2, in different parts of Kingswood, including Hannam Mount, Rose Green, and the Fish Ponds. Most of these were scenes of solemn grandeur. On February 23, when he estimated his congregation at from four to five thousand, he writes: "The sun shone very bright, and the people, standing in such an awful manner round the mount, in the profoundest silence, filled me with holy admiration." Two days later, he says: "At a moderate computation, there were above ten thousand people present. The trees and hedges were full. All was hush when I began, and God enabled me to preach for an hour, with great power, and so loud that all (I was told) could hear me. Blessed be God! Mr. B——n spoke right when he said, 'The fire is kindled in the country, and all the devils in hell shall not be able to quench it.'" On March 18,[188] at Rose Green, he calculated his congregation at not less than twenty thousand, and remarks, "To behold such crowds stand about us in such awful silence, and to hear the echo of[192] their singing, is very solemn and surprising. My discourse continued for near an hour and a half." At the same place, on April 1, "There were twenty-four coaches and an exceeding great number of other people, besides the colliers, both on foot and horseback." Such was his success among the begrimed Kingswood colliers, that, before he left, they gave him 20 in money, and promised 40 in subscriptions, towards the erection of a Charity School, which he wished to build for the instruction of their children. He writes:—

"March 29. Were I to continue here, I would endeavour to settle schools all over the Wood, and also in other places, as Mr. Griffith Jones has done in Wales. I have but just time to set it on foot. I hope God will bless the ministry of my honoured friend, Mr. John Wesley, and enable him to bring it to good effect. It is a pity so many little ones as there are in Kingswood should perish for lack of knowledge."

Whitefield had requested Wesley to visit Bristol. The latter writes:—

"March, 1739. During my stay in London, I was fully employed, between our own Society in Fetter Lane, and many others, where I was continually desired to expound; so that I had no thought of leaving London when I received, after several others, a letter from Mr. Whitefield, and another from Mr. Seward, entreating me in the most pressing manner to come to Bristol without delay. This I was not at all forward to do, and perhaps the less inclined to it (though I trust I do not count my life dear unto myself, so I may finish my course with joy), because of the remarkable scriptures which offered as often as we enquired, touching the consequence of this removal—probably permitted for the trial of our faith: Deut. xxxii. 49, 50; Deut. xxxiv. 8; Acts ix. 16, and Acts viii. 2.

"March 28. My journey was proposed to our Society in Fetter Lane, but my brother Charles would scarce bear the mention of it; till, appealing to the oracles of God, he received those words as spoken to himself, and answered not again: 'Son of man, behold,' etc. (Ezek. xxiv. 16). Our other brethren, however, continuing the dispute, without any probability of their coming to a conclusion, we at length all agreed to decide it by lot. And by this it was determined that I should go. Several afterwards desiring we might open the Bible, concerning the issue of this, we did so on the several portions of Scripture, which I shall set down without any reflection on them. They were 2 Sam. iii. 1; 2 Sam. iv. 11; and 2 Chron. xxviii. 27."

This narrative, of combined bibliomancy and sortilege, is a curious one, but let it pass. Fortunately, by the kindness[193] of Mr. G. Stampe, of Grimsby, I am able to furnish the reader with Whitefield's letter, never before published. It was as follows:—

"Bristol, March 22, 1739.

"Reverend Sir,—I rejoice at the success which God has given you at Oxford and elsewhere. I immediately kneeled down and prayed that you may go on from conquering to conquer.

"I thank you most heartily for your kind rebuke. I can only say it was too tender. I beseech you, whenever you see me do wrong, rebuke me sharply. I have still a word or two to offer in defence of my behaviour, but shall defer it till I come to town. If I have offended, I humbly ask pardon, and desire the brethren to pray that I may be such as God would have me be.

"If the brethren, after prayer for direction, think proper, I wish you would be here the latter end of next week. Brother Hutchins sets out to-morrow for Dummer. Mr. Chapman brings a horse to London, which you may ride. I go away, God willing, next Monday sennight. If you were here, before my departure, it might be best. Many are ripe for bands. I leave that entirely to you. I am but a novice; you are acquainted with the great things of God. Come, I beseech you; come quickly. I have promised not to leave this people till you or somebody come to supply my place. I am resigned to Brother Hutton's coming hither. The good Lord direct him!

"Desire the brethren's advice in the following case. Joseph is arrived. Because he would not submit to a lot, whether he should go with me to England or not, I said he never should return if he went. On board, he behaved well, exceeding well. What shall I do? Shall I keep to my vow that he should not return? or shall I break it? I am indifferent. I will do as the brethren shall direct.

"Great comfort and joy in the Holy Ghost does God, of His free grace, give me. I find myself strengthened in the inner man day by day. I feel an intenseness of love, and long that all should be partakers of it. I hope I grow in grace. To free grace be all the glory!

"God will fight for our dear brother Charles. I thank him for his letter. Blessed be God that both of you are not so brief as usual. God will bring light out of darkness. All these things are not against, but for us.

"Be pleased to bring the Account of my Temptations with you; and, though unworthy, permit me to subscribe myself, Reverend Sir,

"Your dutiful son and servant,
"George Whitefield.

"P.S. March 23. I beseech you come next week; it is advertised in this day's journal. I pray for a blessing on your journey, and in our meetings. The people expect you much. Though you come after, I heartily wish you may be preferred before me. Even so, Lord Jesus. Amen. Our brethren are here together. They advise you should go through Basingstoke, and call at Dummer, and there take the horse Brother[194] Hutchins rides thither. Whosoever you may appoint shall ride Brother Chapman's. The Lord direct us all in all things!

"The Rev. Mr. John Wesley, at Mr. John Bray's, a Brazier, in Little Britain, in Aldersgate Street, London."

There are many points in this deeply interesting letter which deserve attention; such as the fact, that, notwithstanding Whitefield's taunt on Wesley, within two years afterwards, respecting the practice of sortilege, he himself now believed in it, and was in favour of its being used. Want of space, however, prevents enlargement.

Eight days after the date of Whitefield's letter, Wesley arrived in Bristol, to prosecute the wondrous work which his young friend had been honoured to begin; and, on April 2nd, Whitefield took his leave; and, with the exception of one day's visit in the month of July following, for the next two years the Bristol and Kingswood congregations were entrusted solely to the care of the Wesley brothers and of the lay evangelists who became their fellow-labourers. Whitefield shall give his own account of his departure from Methodism's cradle:—

"1739. Monday, April 2. Spent a good part of the morning in talking with those who came to take their leave; and tongue cannot express what a sorrowful parting we had. My heart was so melted, that I prayed for them with strong cryings and many tears. About one, I was obliged to force myself away. Crowds were waiting at the door to give me a last farewell, and near twenty friends accompanied me on horseback. Blessed be God for the marvellous great kindness He hath shewn me in Bristol! Many sinners, I believe, have been effectually converted; numbers have come to me under convictions; and all the children of God have been exceedingly comforted. Several thousands of little books have been dispersed among the people. About 200 have been collected for the Orphan House, and many poor families have been relieved by the bounty of my friend Mr. Seward. What gives me the greater comfort is the consideration that my dear and honoured friend, Mr. Wesley, is left behind to confirm those that are awakened, so that, when I return from Georgia, I hope to see many bold soldiers of Jesus Christ.[189]


"Having taken my leave, and passed through the people of Bristol, I came about two to Kingswood, where the colliers, unknown to me, had prepared an hospitable entertainment, and were very forward for me to lay the first stone of their school. A man giving me a piece of ground (in case Mr. C—— should refuse to grant them any), I laid a stone, and then kneeled down on it, and prayed that the gates of hell might not prevail against our design. The colliers said a hearty Amen, and, after I had given them a word of exhortation suitable to the occasion, I took my leave, promising that I would come amongst them again, if ever God should bring me back to England. I hope a reformation will be carried on amongst them. For my own part, I had rather preach the gospel to the unprejudiced ignorant colliers, than to the bigotted, self-righteous, formal Christians. The colliers will enter into the kingdom of God before them."

Thus, by kneeling on a loose stone, deposited in a piece of ground, provisionally promised as a site for the erection, was begun the memorable Kingswood School. This is not the place to relate the details of the ministry of Wesley and his brother, nor to dwell upon the history of Kingswood School. Suffice it to say, that, on the 12th of May next ensuing, Wesley, in Bristol, laid the foundation-stone of his first Methodist meeting-house; and that, in the month of June, he began to build the School in Kingswood. The following extract, also, from Wesley's Journal, is full of interest, and perfectly appropriate. It was written eight months after Wesley became Whitefield's successor in Bristol and its neighbourhood:—

"Few persons have lived long in the west of England, who have not heard of the colliers of Kingswood; a people famous, from the beginning hitherto, for neither fearing God nor regarding man; so ignorant of the things of God, that they seemed but one remove from the beasts that perish; and, therefore, utterly without desire of instruction, as well as without the means of it.

"Many, last winter, used tauntingly to say of Mr. Whitefield, 'If he will convert heathens, why does he not go to the colliers of Kingswood?' In spring, he did so; and as there were thousands who resorted to no place of public worship, he went after them into their own wilderness, 'to seek and save that which was lost.' When he was called away, others went into 'the highways and hedges, to compel them to come in.' And, by the grace of God, their labour was not in vain. The scene is already changed. Kingswood does not now, as a year ago, resound with cursing and blasphemy. It is no more filled with drunkenness and uncleanness, and the idle diversions that naturally lead thereto. It is no longer full of wars and fightings, of clamour and bitterness, of wrath and envyings.[196] Peace and love are there. Great numbers of the people are mild, gentle, and easy to be entreated. They 'do not cry, neither strive;' and hardly is their 'voice heard in the streets,' or indeed in their own wood, unless when they are at their usual evening diversion,—singing praise unto God their Saviour."

Leaving Wesley at Bristol, Whitefield again went off to Wales, preaching in the open air at Thornbury and at the Old Passage on his way. At Usk, on April 4th, he met Howell Harris; and, being refused the use of the pulpit in the church, a table was placed under a large tree, upon which he discoursed "to some hundreds" of attentive listeners. Attended by a cavalcade of nearly fifty persons, he proceeded to Pontypool, and preached first in the church, and then, to the overflowings of his congregations, out of doors. Thirty horsemen accompanied him to Abergavenny, where, at "the backside of a garden," he addressed "about two thousand people, and did not spare the polite scoffers in the least." About forty on horseback went with him to Comihoy, where the minister of the church was "a hearty friend," but the congregation was so large that the churchyard had to be used as Whitefield's preaching place. "I could spend some months very profitably in Wales," he writes; "the longer I am in it, the more I like it. The people are simple and artless. They have left bigotry more than the generality of our Englishmen; and, through the exhortations of Howell Harris, and the ministry of others, they are hungering and thirsting after the righteousness of Jesus Christ."

On April 6th, in company with about sixty equestrians, he reached Caerleon, "a town," says he, "famous for having thirty British kings buried in it, and for producing three noble Christian martyrs. I chose particularly to come hither, because when my brother Howell Harris was here last, some of the baser sort beat a drum, and huzzaed around him, for the purpose of disturbing him. But God suffered them not to move a tongue now, though I preached from the very same place, and prayed for him by name, as I have in every place where I have preached in Wales. God forbid I should be ashamed either of my Master or His servants! Many thousands were there from all parts, and God gave me such[197] extraordinary assistance, that I was carried out beyond myself."

At Trelegg, Whitefield preached "upon the horse-block before the inn;" at Chepstow, in the church; and at Coleford, in the market-house. On April 9th, he arrived at Gloucester, in the neighbourhood of which he spent the next eight days. Howell Harris, as well as William Seward, was his travelling companion. The following is taken from the Gloucester Journal of April 24, 1739:—

"On the 9th inst., the Rev. Mr. Whitefield came to this city (the place of his nativity) from Wales; having preached in Usk Street; in Pontypool Church and field; in Abergavenny, from a place built on purpose, against a gentleman's wall; in Caerleon field, from a pulpit built for the famous Mr. Howell Harris, who came with him hither, and goes with him to London. He was attended from Usk to Pontypool, and from thence to Abergavenny, and to Caerleon, by sixty or seventy horse, so great was the love of the people to his person, and to his doctrine of the new birth," etc.

Whitefield's ministry in Gloucester and its vicinity was quite as irregular and as remarkable as it had been in Wales. On April 10, besides visiting three Religious Societies in the city, he also preached in St. Michael's Church; but, on the day following, at the conclusion of his sermon, the same church was closed against him, on the ground that "the greatness of his congregations" seriously interfered with public business. With the exception of another instance, to be mentioned shortly, these were the only services that Whitefield was allowed to hold in the Gloucester churches. The result was, he began to preach, to assembled thousands, in the Booth Hall, and in a field attached to the Bell Inn, and belonging to his brother. The newspaper just quoted says:—

"On Tuesday and Wednesday, he preached at the parish church of St. Michael's; but that, as well as one other pulpit, being afterwards denied, and having no prospect of better success with the rest of his brethren, he, on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday, preached to some thousands in a field belonging to the Bell Inn; also on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights, in the Booth Hall, to about three or four thousand each time. Great power has attended his preaching; great numbers have been strengthened in their Christian faith, and are exceedingly sorrowful at his departure from them."


Whitefield's views and feelings will be best expressed in his own words. He writes:—

"1739, Thursday, April 12th. Preached to nearly three thousand hearers in a field belonging to my brother. Cry out who will against this my frowardness, I cannot see my dear countrymen and fellow-Christians everywhere ready to perish, through ignorance and unbelief, and not endeavour to convince them of both. I call upon them who forbid me to speak to these poor baptized heathens, to give a reason for their so doing—a reason which may satisfy not man only, but God. I am, and profess myself, a member of the Church of England. I have received no prohibition from any of the bishops; and, having had no fault found by them with my life or doctrine, have the same general license to preach which the rectors are willing to think sufficient for their curates; nor can any of them produce one instance of their having refused the assistance of a stranger clergyman, because he had not a written license. And have their lordships, the bishops, insisted that no person shall ever preach occasionally without such special license? Is not our producing our Letters of Orders always judged sufficient? Have not some of us been allowed to preach in Georgia and other places, by no other than our general commission? His lordship of London allowed of my preaching in Georgia, even when I had only received Deacon's Orders; and I have never been charged by his lordship with teaching or living otherwise than as a true minister of the Church of England. I keep close to her Articles and Homilies, which, if my opposers did, we should not have so many dissenters from her. But it is most notorious that for the iniquity of the priests the land mourns. We have preached and lived many sincere persons out of our communion. I have now conversed with several of the best of all denominations; and many of them solemnly protest that they went from the church because they could not find food for their souls. They stayed among us till they were starved out. I know this declaration will expose me to the ill-will, not of all my brethren, but of all my indolent, earthly-minded, pleasure-taking brethren. But were I not to speak, the very stones would cry out against them. Speak, therefore, I must, and will, and will not spare. God look to the event!"

No doubt all this is true; but still, the clergy had a right to refuse the use of their churches to the young evangelist; and it must also be admitted that there is throughout Whitefield's statement a strain of egotism scarcely modest, and at the end of it a tone of censoriousness hardly in harmony with Christian courtesy. Unfortunately, this was not the only imprudent attack of Whitefield on the indolence, the earthly-mindedness, and pleasure-taking habits of his brethren in the ministry. There were ample grounds for it; but the attack was not politic. It[199] resulted in no good, and not unreasonably exposed Whitefield to retaliatory critiques. But more of this anon.

Besides his preaching in the Booth Hall and in his brother's field, Whitefield preached out of doors at Painswick, Chalford, Stroud, Stonehouse, and Oxenhall. Strangely enough, his last service, for the present, was performed in the church he attended in the days of his boyhood. He writes:—

"1739, April 17, Tuesday. About eleven, by the bishop's permission, I baptized, in the Church of St. Mary de Crypt, Mr. Thomas W——d, a professed Quaker, about sixty years of age, who was convinced of the necessity of being born again of water as well as of the Spirit. Many of Christ's faithful servants attended on the prayers around him; and, I believe, the Holy Ghost was with us of a truth. After the solemnity was over, I gave a word of exhortation from the font; and, being the place where I myself not long since had been baptized, it gave me an opportunity of reflecting on the frequent breaches of my baptismal vow, and of proving the necessity of the new birth from the office of our Church.

"After this, and having dined, I prayed with and took leave of my weeping friends. When I came to the city, I found the devil had painted me in most horrible colours; for it was currently reported that I was really mad, that I had said I was the Holy Ghost, and that I had walked bare-headed through Bristol streets, singing psalms. But God was pleased to shew the people that the devil was a liar, and that the words I spoke were not those of a madman, but the words of soberness and truth."

Having baptized the old Quaker, and unnecessarily repudiated the stupid charge of being mad, because he had sung with uncovered head in the streets of Bristol, he set out for Cheltenham, accompanied by about a dozen of his friends. Until recently, Cheltenham had been a poor, straggling hamlet of a few thatched cottages, sheltered by the Cotswold Hills. The first Spa was discovered in 1716, and since then, during a period of twenty years, the insignificant village had been full of bustle, for its site was in the process of being transformed into the squares, crescents, terraces, and promenades of the fashionable Cheltenham of the present day. As Whitefield and his friends passed along, the rustic inhabitants, at the doors of their humble cottages, stood and stared. Whitefield applied for the use of the parish church.[200] His application was refused; and therefore he preached, he says, "to near two thousand people,"[190] on the Plough Inn bowling-green. He adds, "Many were convicted. One woman wept greatly, because she had said I was crazy; and some were so filled with the Holy Ghost, that they were almost unable to support themselves under it."

From Cheltenham, Whitefield proceeded to Evesham, in the neighbourhood of which he spent three days among the relatives of his friend William Seward. He shall relate his own story.

"1739, April 18, Wednesday. Got safe to Evesham (where Mr. Seward's relations live) about seven at night. Several persons came to see me, amongst whom was Mr. Benjamin Seward, whom God has been pleased to call by His free grace very lately. For some years he had been at Cambridge. As touching the law, so far as outward morality went, he was blameless; but he disliked my proceedings, and once had a mind, he said, to write against Mr. Law's enthusiastic notions in his 'Christian Perfection.' Lately, however, he has had an eight days' sickness; in which time he scarce ever ate, or drank, or slept, and underwent great inward agonies and tortures. After this, God sent a poor travelling woman, who came to sell straw toys, to instruct him in the nature of the second birth; and now he is resolved to prepare for Holy Orders. He is a gentleman of very large fortune, which he has devoted to God. I write this to shew how far a man may go, and yet know nothing of Jesus Christ. Here is one who constantly attended on the means of grace, exact in his morals, humane and courteous in his conversation, who gave much in alms, was frequent in private duties; and yet, till about six weeks ago, was as destitute of any saving, experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ, as those on whom His name was never called, and who still sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. How often has my companion and honoured friend, Mr. William Seward, been deemed a madman, even by this very brother, for going to Georgia; but now God has made him an instrument of converting his brother. This, more and more, convinces me that we must be despised before we can be vessels fit for God's use.

"April 19, Thursday. Went to Badsey, about two miles from Evesham, where Mr. Seward's eldest brother lives. We were most kindly received. About four in the afternoon, the churches at Evesham, Bengeworth, and Badsey being denied, I preached from the cross, in the middle of Evesham[201] street, to a great congregation; and then went to Badsey, and preached in Mr. Seward's brother's yard.

"April 20, Friday. Preached about nine in the morning at the cross in Evesham, went to public worship, and received the sacrament. Preached at Badsey at five in the evening, and returned and expounded in the town hall, which was quite thronged. The recorder himself procured the keys for us.

"April 21, Saturday. Preached in the morning at Badsey, to a weeping audience, and set out for Oxford, which I reached at about ten at night."

At Oxford, Whitefield was thrown into amusing perturbation by an event which might have been expected to secure his warm approval. Charles Kinchin, one of the most zealous of the Oxford Methodists, was Rector of Dummer and Fellow and Dean of Corpus Christi College. Greatly to Whitefield's distress of mind, Kinchin had resolved to declare himself a Dissenter. He had left the college, intended to resign his living, and purposed, as soon as he was really converted, to become an itinerant preacher.[191] Whitefield himself was already an itinerant, either by necessity, or choice, or both; and yet he seems to have been ridiculously horrified at the probability of Kinchin following his example. He writes:—

"The step taken by Mr. Kinchin gave me a great shock. For I knew what dreadful consequences would attend a needless separation from the Established Church. For my own part, I can see no reason for my leaving the Church, however I am treated by the corrupt members and ministers of it. I judge of the state of a church, not from the practice of its members, but its primitive and public constitutions; and so long as I think the Articles of the Church of England are agreeable to Scripture, I am resolved to preach them up without either bigotry or party zeal."

Already Hervey, another of the Oxford Methodists, had written to Kinchin a letter, of more than a dozen printed octavo pages,[192] and had strongly and lovingly entreated him not to leave the Church. Whitefield wrote to the same effect. His letter is thoroughly characteristic, and abbreviation would injure it.

"Oxon, April 22, 1739.

"Dearest Mr. Kinchin,—Just now I have received the blessed sacrament, and have been praying for you. Let me exhort you, by the mercies of[202] God in Christ Jesus, not to resign your parsonage till you have consulted your friends in London. It is undoubtedly true that all is not right when we are afraid to be open to our dear brethren.

"Satan has desired to sift you as wheat. He is dealing with you as he did with me some years ago, when he kept me in my closet near six weeks, because I could not do anything with a single intention. So he would have you not to preach till you have received the Holy Ghost in the full assurance of it; and that is the way never to have it at all. God will be found in the use of means; and our Lord sent out His disciples to preach before[193] they had received the Holy Ghost in that most plentiful manner at the day of Pentecost.

"Besides, consider, my dear brother, what confusion your separation from the Church will occasion. The prison doors" (at Oxford) "are already shut" (against us). "Our Society is stopped; and most are afraid almost to converse with us. I can assure you, that my being a minister of the Church of England, and preaching its articles, is a means, under God, of drawing so many after me.

"As for objecting about habits, robes, etc., good God! I thought we long since knew that the kingdom of God did not consist in any externals, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

"Oh! my dear brother, I travail in pain for you. Never was I more shocked at anything than at your proceedings. I doubt not that you will pray to God to be kept from delusion at the reading of this. I am not ignorant of Satan's devices, and I know he never more successfully tempts us, than when he turns himself into an angel of light. Oh! my dearest Mr. Kinchin, do nothing rashly. Consult your friends, and do not break the heart of your most affectionate, though unworthy brother in Christ,

"George Whitefield."

Though it is not necessary to pursue the subject, it may be added, 1. That Kinchin was prompted to act as he did chiefly by three Moravian brethren;[194] 2. Though there can be little doubt that he resigned his Fellowship and his office of Dean of Corpus Christi College, it is not certain that he resigned his living; 3. When he died, on January 4, 1742, he left behind him a young widow of the age of thirty, who, ten months afterwards, was one of the enrolled members of "the Congregation of the Lamb, in London;" and, within eighteen months after that, became the wife of Ludolph Ernest Schlicht,[195] who officiated as one of the[203] principal Moravian ministers in London, Dublin, and other places.

Whitefield spent two days at Oxford, trying to put wrong things right. Of course, he was not allowed the use of any of the Oxford churches; but he says:—

"I visited two Societies, at the first of which many gownsmen did me the honour of coming to hear. Before I began, I desired them to behave like gentlemen and Christians. I also prayed particularly for them, and applied myself in meekness and love to them at the end of my discourse. They behaved quietly; but afterwards followed me to my inn, and came uninvited up into my room. I took that opportunity to give them a second exhortation; and though some, no doubt, mocked, yet, I believe, some will remember what was said. Blessed be God for sending me hither! Our dear brother Kinchin, falling into such an error, has given such a shock, that, unless I had come, in all probability the brethren would have been scattered abroad like sheep having no shepherd."

Next morning, before setting out for London, Whitefield conducted another religious service; during which the Vice-Chancellor of the University came and sent a message, requesting Whitefield to come downstairs to see him.[196] As soon as the young preacher presented himself, the learned Don angrily exclaimed, "Have you, sir, a name in any book here?" "Yes, sir," said Whitefield, "but I intend to take it out soon." "Yes," replied the wrathful magnate, "and you had best take yourself out too, or otherwise I will lay you up by the heels. What do you mean by going about, alienating the people's affections from their proper pastors? Your works are full of vanity and nonsense. You pretend to inspiration. If you ever come again in this manner among these people, I will lay you first by the heels, and these shall follow." Having delivered himself of this official threat, the Vice-Chancellor "turned his back, and went away." "I exhorted the brethren," says Whitefield, "not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, though no pastor should be permitted to come amongst them; for, so long as they continued steadfast in the communion of the Established Church, I told them, no power on earth could justify hindering them[204] continuing in fellowship, as the primitive Christians did, in order to build up each other in the knowledge and fear of God. Oh, what advantage has Satan gained over us by our brother Kinchin putting off his gown!"

The ungentlemanly menace of the Vice-Chancellor was an empty one, and yet it evidently caused Whitefield some anxiety. Hence, on the same day, he wrote as follows to his friend Harris:—

"I rejoice to hear Mr. Cole[197] builds you up in your most holy faith. Who knows but you may, under God, keep up religion in Gloucester? Mr. Kinchin's conduct, in leaving the Church and giving up the parsonage, has sadly grieved the spirit of many good people here. My heart is drawn towards London most strangely. Perhaps you may hear of your friend's imprisonment. I expect no other preferment. God grant I may behave so, that when I suffer, it may not be for my own imprudencies, but for righteousness' sake! Then, I am sure, the spirit of Christ and of glory will rest upon my soul."

On April 25th, Whitefield and his friends, William Seward and Howell Harris, arrived in London, where (excepting one or two brief excursions made to other places) he continued until the end of June. This was a most important epoch in Whitefield's history, and must be carefully examined.

It is a significant fact, that, though it was through three Moravians that Charles Kinchin was (as Whitefield thought) so disastrously led astray, Whitefield still maintained a close connection with the Moravian Society in Fetter Lane, and, up to the time of his second embarkation for Georgia, attended their assemblies, and assisted in their services. He was really, if not nominally, one of their brotherhood; and, on Sunday, May 20, made the following entry in his Journal: "Went with our brethren of Fetter Lane Society to St. Paul's, and received the holy sacrament, as a testimony that we adhered to the Church of England."

It was not, however, as a Moravian that Whitefield became so notable; but as an outdoor preacher, whose congregations, voice, and oratory were unparalleled.

At this period, the vicar of Islington was the Rev. George Stonehouse, who had recently been converted, chiefly by means of Charles Wesley; and who, like Whitefield and the[205] Wesley brothers, evinced great affection for the Moravian fraternity. In fact, he soon afterwards so identified himself with the Brethren, that he sold his living, and retired to Sherborne, in the west of England, where he fitted up a Moravian meeting house capable of accommodating five hundred people.

Mr. Stonehouse was now the only clergyman in London willing to lend his pulpit to poor outcast Whitefield; and even he was not able to carry out his wishes. Whitefield, the day after he reached London, wrote as follows:—

"Thursday, April 26. Assisted in administering the blessed sacrament at Islington, where the vicar, in conformity to the rubric, takes care to observe the octaves of Easter.

"Friday, April 27. Went this morning to Islington to preach, according to the appointment of my dear brother in Christ, the Reverend Mr. Stonehouse; but, in the midst of the prayers, the churchwarden came, demanding me to produce my license, or otherwise he forbad my preaching in that pulpit. I believe I might have insisted upon my right to preach, being in priest's orders, and having the presentation of the living at Savannah, which is in the Bishop of London's diocese,—a stronger license than that implicit one by which hundreds of the inferior clergy are by his lordship permitted to preach. However, for the sake of peace, I declined preaching in the church; but, after the communion service was over, I preached in the churchyard, being assured my Master now called me out here, as well as in Bristol.[198] God was pleased so to assist me in preaching, and so wonderfully to affect the hearers, that, I believe, we could have gone singing of hymns to prison. Let not the adversaries say I have thrust myself out of their synagogues. No, they have thrust me out. And since the self-righteous men of this generation count themselves unworthy, I go out into the highways and hedges, and compel harlots, publicans, and sinners to come in, that my Master's house may be filled. They who are sincere will follow after me to hear the word of God."[199]


Thus was Whitefield driven to outdoor preaching in London, as well as in Bristol. Perhaps he would have preferred a church; but now he must either preach out of doors, or not at all. His spirit might be vexed, but was not depressed. On the very day when the imperious churchwarden thrust him out of Islington Church into the churchyard, he wrote to his friend Harris at Gloucester:—

"To-day, my Master, by His providence and Spirit, compelled me to preach in the churchyard at Islington. To-morrow, I am to repeat that mad trick, and, on Sunday, to go out into Moorfields. The word of the Lord runs and is glorified. People's hearts seem quite broken. God strengthens me exceedingly. I preach till I sweat through and through. Innumerable blessings does God pour down upon me. Oh that I had a thankful heart!"

When Sunday came, Whitefield, not surprisingly, did more than he intended. He writes:—

"Sunday, April 29. Preached in the morning at Moorfields, to an exceeding great multitude. At ten, went to Christ Church, and heard Doctor Trapp preach most virulently against me and my friends, upon these words, 'Be not righteous over-much: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?' God gave me great serenity of mind; but, alas! the preacher was not so calm as I wished him. His sermon was founded upon wrong suppositions, not to say that there were many direct untruths in it. And he argued so strenuously against all inward feelings, that he plainly proved that, with all his learning, he knew nothing yet as he ought to know. At five, I preached at Kennington Common, about two miles from London, where thirty thousand people were supposed to be present. The wind carried my voice to the extremest part of the audience. All stood attentive, and joined in the Psalm and the Lord's Prayer most regularly. I scarce ever preached more quietly in any church. The word came with power. The people were much affected. All agreed it was never seen on this wise before. I hope a good inroad has been made into the devil's kingdom this day.[200]

"Monday, April 30. Declined preaching to-day, that I might have[207] leisure to write to some of my correspondents, and make preparations for my poor orphans in Georgia. Heard that Mr. Kinchin had got over his scruples, and of the wonderful success of my honoured friend Mr. John Wesley's ministry in Bristol, and of much opposition at Oxford. Certainly God is about to bring mighty things to pass."

So ended this eventful month of April. Wesley, whom Whitefield had left as his successor, was preaching to thousands upon thousands in Bristol and its vicinity, and already numbers were falling on the ground as if "thunderstruck," and in the greatest excitement calling upon God for mercy. Whitefield had prepared Wesley's way in Bristol, and he was now doing the same in London. Moorfields—a park laid out in grass plots, intersected by broad gravel walks, and shaded by rows of well-grown elms—was "the city mall." Kennington Common—a mile beyond the small hamlet of Newington, and situated at the end of a vast conglomerated garden which extended to what is now Westminster Bridge—was the rendezvous of London riff-raffs, and the ghostly locale where hundreds of condemned felons had been hanged and gibbeted. These, henceforth, were two of Whitefield's grand cathedrals.[201]

Doctor Trapp has just been mentioned. This gentleman, like Whitefield, was born in Gloucestershire, and educated at Oxford; but he was thirty-six years Whitefield's senior. He was a culpable pluralist. In 1721, he became vicar of Christ Church, Newgate Street, and rector of St. Leonard's, Foster Lane. In 1733, the famous Lord Bolingbroke made him rector of Harlington, in Middlesex; and, a year later, he was elected a joint lecturer of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. These were the church-preferments of the fervent ecclesiastic, who deemed it his high duty to belabour the poor Methodists. Turbulence was an element in which Dr. Trapp liked to live. He had acted as manager for Dr. Sacheverell on his memorable[208] trial in 1709. Several of his principal publications had been of a controversial character. There can be no question that he had a keen relish for a scuffle. He was a man of extensive learning, and Bishop Pearce pronounced him to be of all English students the most diligent. His wit was considerable, but his temper hasty. The one sharpened the other, and made it more gashing.

The sermon by Trapp, which Whitefield heard in Christ Church, on Sunday, April 29th, was probably the first of the series. At all events, the Gentleman's Magazine announced that the "fourth and last sermon against Mr. Whitefield and the Methodists" was "preached on Sunday, May 20th," and that the sermons were to "be printed at the earnest request of the audience."[202]

Dr. Trapp, in compliance with "the earnest request" of his hearers, immediately issued an octavo pamphlet of sixty-nine pages, with the title, "The Nature, Folly, Sin, and Danger of being Righteous over-much; with a particular view to the Doctrines and Practices of certain Modern Enthusiasts. Being the Substance of Four Discourses lately preached in the Parish Churches of Christ Church, and St. Lawrence Jewry, London, and St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Westminster. By Joseph Trapp, D.D." Before the end of the year, the work reached a third edition. A few extracts, obviously aimed at Whitefield, may be useful.

In a paragraph censuring "ignorant, illiterate people who presume to expound the Scriptures," the learned Doctor says:—

"Suppose another, though in holy orders, yet a raw novice very lately initiated into them, shall take upon him, at his first setting out, to execute, as it were, the office of an apostle,—to be a teacher, not only of all the laity in all parts of the kingdom, but of the teachers themselves, the learned clergy, many of them learned before he was born,—to reflect upon and censure them as if they did not know their duty, or would not do it without being instructed and reproved by him,—what is this but an outrage upon common decency and common sense? the height of presumption, confidence, and self-sufficiency; so ridiculous as to create the greatest laughter, were it not so deplorable and detestable as to create the greatest grief and abhorrence; especially if vast multitudes are so sottish,[209] and wicked too, as, in a tumultuous manner, to run madding after him? Surely it is shocking and prodigious for so young a son of Levi to take much upon him."

Such seems to have been the winding-up of the first sermon—the one which Whitefield himself heard in Christ Church. No wonder Whitefield wrote, "The preacher was not so calm as I wished him."

The next extract is equally personal and offensive.

"There is a mighty difference between appearance and reality. There is often the deepest pride where there is no high or lofty look, and the height of confidence and self-sufficiency under the guise of the greatest modesty. But how shall we distinguish? 'By their fruits ye shall know them.' A pharisaical ostentation, and outward show of piety, praying, or singing psalms in the corners of the streets, to be seen of men, is one undoubted sign of pride, and that the worst sort of it—spiritual pride. Again, he is proud who 'exercises himself in great matters which are too high for him,'—who pretends to be more than ordinarily knowing in things which he knows nothing of,—who peremptorily censures his betters, and takes upon him to teach his teachers. All this is contrary to the spirit and genius of the Gospel, to the modesty and humility of the Christian religion. These are indications of the worst sort of pride; or if not pride, it is a folly that approaches very near to madness."

In reference to the Moravian and other Religious Societies, in whose meetings Whitefield so frequently expounded, the zealous, censorious preacher says:—

"The Church itself is, by these irregular, upstart Societies, even by the best of them, and much more by the worst, greatly weakened and impaired. For though they do constantly attend divine service, as prescribed in the public offices, yet I appeal to all discerning and judicious persons, whether, in the nature of things, they are not likely to set a greater value upon their own particular meetings and exercises, set up purely by their own fancies, and commanded by no authority of God or man. To be plain, if what I am informed of these meetings be true, they are schismatical, in their tendency at least, though not so designed; for there may be a schism in the Church, as well as a schism from the Church. If it be true that they consist of considerable numbers, that they have prayers (some, too, extemporary ones), and preaching, or something like it, I do not see how they can be deemed legal assemblies. The public meetings of Protestant Dissenters from the Church are tolerated by law, and licensed by authority; but I never heard that these are either. If they should be, I doubt there would be more danger to the Church from a kind of half-dissenters in it, than from those who are total dissenters from it."

Whitefield's open-air preaching occasioned great disquietude[210] to the minister of three churches in London and one in the country. Dr. Trapp remarks:—

"We have heard of Field-Conventicles in Scotland, among the enthusiasts of that country; which yet, I think, were there always suppressed by the authority of Church or State, or both. We have had, in former times, something of this nature in England, as practised by Brownists, Anabaptists, Quakers, Ranters, or such like. But for a clergyman of the Church of England to pray and preach in the fields in the country, or in the streets in the city, is perfectly new; never heard of before; a fresh honour to the blessed age, in which we have the happiness to live. To pray, preach, and sing psalms in the streets and fields is worse, if possible, than intruding into pulpits by downright violence and breach of the peace; and then denying the plain fact with the most infamous prevarication.[203] I could say much here; but am quite ashamed to speak upon a subject which is a shame and reproach, not only to our Church and country, but to human nature itself. Can it promote the Christian religion, to turn it into riot, tumult, and confusion?—to make it ridiculous and contemptible, and expose it to the scorn and scoffs of infidels and atheists? If it be alleged, as I think it is, that Christ and His apostles prayed and preached in the fields, on mountains, and on the sea-shore,—I ask, Have these creatures the same spirit and power that they had? Is Christianity now in its infancy, as it was then? Was the Church then established as it is now? Are we now to be converted to Christianity, from Judaism or heathenism, as people were in those days? Or if we were, are such false and spurious apostles as these able to convert us? I might here very properly urge the canons of the Church of England, and the laws of the civil state. But the thing, though detestable and of most pernicious tendency, is, in another view, too contemptible to be longer insisted upon. It would likewise be endless, as well as nauseous, to make reflections upon that rhapsody of madness, spiritual pride, and little less than blasphemy, if not quite so, which this field preacher calls his Journal; and so I say no more of it. Go not after these impostors and seducers; but shun them as you would the plague. Those who run after them are the enemies of our religion and Church. These Protestant enthusiasts, with all Protestant heretics, schismaticks, and false teachers, on the one hand; and the free-thinkers, infidels, deists, and atheists, on the other, are doing the work of Papists for them, to their hearts' desire."

In this fit of nausea and disgust Dr. Trapp might be dismissed; but, before parting with him, another of his virulent outpourings must be noticed.

Three months later in the year, the following was published:—"The Nature, Usefulness, and Regulation of[211] Religious Zeal. A Sermon preached at St. Mary's, Oxon; before the Right Honourable Mr. Justice Fortescue Aland and Mr. Baron Thompson; and before the University of Oxford; at the Assizes held there, on Thursday, August 2nd, 1739. By Joseph Trapp, D.D., Minister of Christ Church and St. Leonard's, Foster Lane, London. Published at the desire of the Judges and the Vice-Chancellor." (8vo. 32 pp.)

One extract from this highly patronized sermon must suffice.

"No false zeal is more abusive than that of our modern infidels, on the one hand, and our modern enthusiasts, pretending to be the only true believers, on the other: Christianity and Christians by the former, and our Established Church and clergy by both; being outraged with such virulence and malice, such insolence and contempt, as was never heard of before; and would not be endured by any Christian nation under heaven, but this in which we live. Some emotion in the affections, and in the blood and spirits, is both becoming and useful; but rage and fury is neither. The good Christian may have, and should have, some warmth and even heat; but not be like a red-hot iron, hissing and sparkling from the forge, and dropping fire wherever it reaches. A brisk gale at sea is one thing, but a storm is another. Let false zealots be like raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; but let the truly zealous Christian carefully avoid these exorbitances. Let Popery and Protestant enthusiasm, infidelity, and atheism, all leagued against Christianity in general and the Church of England in particular, rage like a possessed pythoness; but let every good Christian know and consider what manner of spirit he is of, which is not such a manner of spirit as that."

Public attacks like these were hard to bear; especially in the case of a young man of twenty-four, ardent, enthusiastic, ambitious, and somewhat overweening, like Whitefield. In his sermon on "The Marriage of Cana," Whitefield writes:—

"What a sad inference one of our masters of Israel, in a printed sermon, has lately drawn from this commendation of the bridegroom! His words are these: 'Our blessed Saviour came eating and drinking, was present at weddings, and other entertainments; nay, at one of them, worked a miracle to make wine, when it is plain there had been more drank than was absolutely necessary for the support of nature; and consequently something had been indulged to pleasure and cheerfulness.'[204]

"I am sorry such words should come from the mouth and pen of a dignified clergyman of the Church of England. Alas! how is she[212] fallen! or, at least, in what danger must her tottering ark be, when such unhallowed hands are stretched out to support it! Well may I bear patiently to be styled a blasphemer, and a setter forth of strange doctrines, when my dear Lord Jesus is thus traduced, and when those who pretend to preach in His name urge this example to patronise licentiousness and excess!"

A more lengthy and less temperate critique by Whitefield will be mentioned shortly. Meanwhile, a reply was published by the Rev. Robert Seagrave, M.A., in an octavo pamphlet of 32 pages, with the title, "An Answer to the Reverend Dr. Trapp's four Sermons against Mr. Whitefield, shewing the Sin and Folly of being Angry over-much." The title-page also bore the following text from the Apocrypha: "He was made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold; for His life is not like other men's; His ways are of another fashion (Wisdom ii. 14, 15)." This pamphlet passed through two editions in the year 1739.

Mr. Seagrave was born on November 22, 1693, at Twyford, in Leicestershire, where his father was vicar from 1687 to 1720. At the age of seventeen, he was admitted sizar of Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he subsequently took the degrees of B.A. and M.A.[205] He heartily sympathised with Whitefield; and failing to obtain a church, or, perhaps, not desiring to be the minister of one, he became, in 1739, a sort of extra parochial clergyman, and occupied the Lorimers' or Leather-Cutters' Hall, situated at the north end of Basinghall Street. This hall, for at least forty years, had been used as a dissenting meeting-house, first by the Particular Baptists, and next by a Society of Independents. Here, in 1706, the celebrated Dr. Daniel Neal was ordained, and officiated as minister, until his increasing congregation rendered it necessary to remove to a larger meeting-house in Jewin Street.[206]

For some years, Mr. Seagrave preached in Lorimers' Hall with much success. "He was a good minister of Jesus[213] Christ, a workman who needed not to be ashamed. He was a man of eminent piety, great humility, and remarkable zeal and diligence, and very exemplary in the whole of his conversation. Besides his Answer to Dr. Trapp, he was the author of "Observations upon the Conduct of the Clergy in Relation to the Thirty-Nine Articles, with an Essay towards a Real Protestant Establishment;" also "A Letter to the People of England;"[207] and likewise "Hymns for Christian Worship, 1742." He was also the author of about half a dozen other pamphlets, tracts, and sermons.

Want of space makes it impossible to give an outline of Mr. Seagrave's reply to Dr. Trapp; but three brief extracts from this scarce production may be welcome.

"Little or nothing was objected to the Methodists, by the clergy, while they continued in our churches, excepting some disorders and inconveniences arising, by their means, to our places of worship; but, from the time they unexpectedly undertook to preach in fields, and in a manner not altogether favourable to ecclesiastical maxims and church authority, they have commenced impostors, enthusiasts, and novelists. They have likewise acquired very additional blame for asserting that they discern several valuable and worthy Christians amongst Dissenters of every branch. To which I reply: (1) Does preaching in a field annul that character or commission of a minister, in all respects ordained like the rest, which divines themselves call an indelible character? A discovery seems to be made, that the exercise of a minister's function subsists no longer than he shall absolutely coincide with the majority of his brethren, or shall think as his diocesan thinks. (2) The Dissenters have mostly kept the old truths which now begin to be discovered. Why should we confine all religion, and all learning, and all knowledge to our own Church? The Methodists think they see more religion and real knowledge at present amongst the Dissenters than (I am sorry to say it) is commonly seen in our own Church; and they have the impartiality not to deny it."

"I shall not deny that instances of folly are imputable to the Methodists. Persons have sung psalms in streets and corners; an indiscretion this, but no crime. We ought to balance the bad part with the good. Nothing but obstinacy and envy can deny that a great reformation has arisen upon the manners of the age by the itinerant's preaching. If the gospel be preached in the church, it is well and desirable; but, when our clergy leave the old truths, and are fallen into the scheme of Deism, though they may not discern it, men have a right to hear the truth in the field, or in a meeting-house, supposing they can find it nowhere else."


One more extract, partly aimed at Dr. Trapp as a pluralist, must suffice.

"Nothing can weaken the credit of any clergy so much as their own indiscretions and exorbitancy of ambition. When they afford suspicion of their being lovers of themselves, and negligent of their respective flocks; when they break the regularity of their own church by pluralities, dispensations, and other enormities; and, above all, when they are actually fallen aside from their foundation by departing from their own constituent articles, a solemn subscription notwithstanding,—this really may and ought to weaken and impair, if not the Church, yet certainly the reputation of such in it, who harbour the present rash and overbearing principles.[208]

It is time to return to Whitefield on the playground of the London rabble, Kennington Common. He writes:—

"1739, Wednesday, May 2. Preached this evening to above ten thousand, at Kennington Common, and spent the remainder of the evening in conference with our brethren in Fetter Lane Society. Our brethren, who have fallen into errors, have left us voluntarily.

"Thursday, May 3. Preached, at six in the evening, at Kennington, and great power was amongst us. The audience was more numerous and silent than yesterday.

"Saturday, May 5. Preached yesterday and to-day at Kennington Common, to about twenty thousand hearers, who were very much affected.

"Sunday, May 6. Preached this morning in Moorfields, to about twenty thousand people, who were very quiet and attentive, and much affected. Went to public worship morning and evening; and, at six, preached at Kennington. Such a sight I never saw before. I believe there were no less than fifty thousand people, near four-score coaches, besides great numbers of horses. There was an awful silence among the people. God gave me great enlargement of heart. I continued my discourse for an hour and a half.

"Tuesday, May 8. Preached in the evening, as usual, on Kennington Common. Before I set out from town, it rained very hard; but when I[215] came to the Common, I saw, to my great surprise, above twenty thousand people. Except for a few moments, the sun shone out upon us; and I trust the Sun of righteousness arose on some with healing in His wings.

"Wednesday, May 9. Waited at noon upon the trustees for Georgia. They received me with the utmost civility, agreed to everything I asked, and gave a grant of five hundred acres of land, to me and my successors for ever, for the use of the Orphan House. At night, God enabled me to preach to about twenty thousand, for above an hour, at Kennington. The hearers contributed most cheerfully and liberally towards the Orphan House. I was one of the collectors. It would have delighted any one to see with what eagerness and cheerfulness the people came up both sides of the eminence on which I stood, and afterwards to the coach doors, to throw in their mites. When we came home, we found we had collected above 47, amongst which were 16 in halfpence.

"Thursday, May 10. Preached at Kennington, but it rained most part of the day. There were not above ten thousand people, and thirty coaches.

"Friday, May 11. Preached at Kennington to a larger audience than last night, and collected 26 15s. 6d. for the Orphan House.

"Saturday, May 12. Agreed to-day, for myself and eleven others, to go on board the Elizabeth, Captain Allen, to Pennsylvania, where I design to preach the gospel in my way to Georgia, and to buy provisions for my Orphan House. Many came to me in the morning, telling me what God had done for their souls by my preaching in the fields. In the evening, I preached to about twenty thousand at Kennington. I offered Jesus Christ to all that could apply Him to their hearts by faith.

"Sunday, May 13. Preached this morning to a prodigious number of people in Moorfields, and collected for the orphans 52 19s. 6d., above 20 of which was in halfpence. Indeed, they almost wearied me in receiving their mites, and they were more than one man could carry home. Went to public worship twice, and preached in the evening to near sixty thousand people.[209] Many went away because they could not hear. After sermon, I made another collection of 29 17s. 8d.

"Monday, May 14. Spent most of this day in visiting some friends, and settling my Georgia affairs. Spent the evening very agreeably with several Quakers. How much comfort do those lose who converse with none but such as are of their own communion!

"Tuesday, May 15. Preached this evening at Kennington. Notwithstanding the rain, the people stood very attentive.

"Wednesday, May 16. Sent a Quaker to be baptized by my dear brother, Mr. Stonehouse. Waited upon the honourable trustees, who still[216] treated me with the utmost civility. Dined with some serious Quakers, and preached at Kennington, and have reason to bless God, more and more, for the order and devotion of those that come to hear the word.[210]

"Thursday, May 17. Preached, after several invitations thither, at Hampstead Heath, about five miles from London. The audience was of the politer sort. Most were attentive, but some mocked.

"Friday, May 18. Dined with several of the Moravian Church, and could not avoid admiring their great simplicity, and deep experience in the inward life. At six, I preached in a very large open place in Shadwell, being much pressed by many to go thither. I believe there were upwards of twenty thousand people. At first, through the greatness of the throng, there was a little hurry; but afterwards all was hushed and silent. Near 20 was collected for the Orphan House. Received an excellent letter from Mr. Ralph Erskine, a field-preacher of the Scots Church, a noble soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Saturday, May 19. Dined at Clapham with a Quaker. Preached in the evening at Kennington Common, to about fifteen thousand people, who were very attentive and affected.[211] Afterwards, I spent two hours at Fetter Lane Society, where we had a most useful conference concerning the necessity of every Christian to have some particular calling, whereby he may be a useful member of the society to which he belongs. We all agreed to this. For my own part, I think if a man will not labour, neither ought he to eat. To be so intent on pursuing the one thing needful, as to neglect providing for those of our own households, is to be righteous over-much.

"Sunday, May 20. Went with our brethren of Fetter Lane Society to St. Paul's, and received the holy sacrament, as a testimony that we adhered to the Church of England. Preached at Moorfields[212] and Kennington Common, and, at both places, collected near 50 for the Orphan House. A visible alteration is made in the behaviour of the people; for, though there were near fifteen thousand in the morning, and double the number in the afternoon, they were as quiet as though there had not been above fifty persons present. I did not meet with a moment's interruption. I could say of the assembly, as Jacob did on another occasion, 'Surely God is in this place.'"


On Monday, May 21st, Whitefield set out on a short preaching excursion into the three counties of Hertford, Buckingham, and Northampton; but, before following him, it may be useful to pause, and to ponder these marvellous extracts from the young preacher's Journal. Are they not unique? Is there any other man, except Whitefield, whose diary, for nineteen consecutive days, contains a series of statements like the foregoing? There can be little doubt that Whitefield was always in danger of over-estimating the number of his hearers. It is one of the peculiarities of his Journal and letters to say there were nearly a certain number, rather than to say there were more than a lower number. But, after making ample deductions on this account, the crowds attending his ministry were enormous. Dr. Trapp, during these three weeks, was doing his utmost, in his three metropolitan churches, to bring upon Whitefield the ridicule and contempt of the London populace; but his priestly effort was a failure. The more Trapp denounced the preacher, the greater were the congregations that ran to hear him. Dr. Trapp was vigorously assisted by Dr. Hooker, the conductor of the Weekly Miscellany, which was then the principal newspaper of the Church of England. On May 5th, one of its columns was filled with "Queries to Mr. Whitefield," concerning "Principles, Doctrines, Articles of Faith, Motives, and Extraordinary Light," full of banter and ridicule. On May 12, nearly two pages of the comparatively small newspaper were used in denouncing Whitefield and his proceedings. Speaking of Whitefield, it says:—

"Immediately after his ordination to the priesthood; without a license from any bishop; contrary to all the rules of the Christian Church; contrary to the canons and constitutions of our own Church, which so lately gave him his orders; contrary to the laws of the land,—he goes strolling about the kingdom, shewing the greatest contempt for our excellent liturgy, and all forms of prayer, and using extemporary effusions; preaching doctrines different from those which he subscribed before the bishop, with an unparalleled degree of vanity and vainglory; extolling himself, and, with the most unchristian spirit of censoriousness, undervaluing and blaming the established clergy."

In reference to the immense congregations daily assembled on Kennington Common, the same article remarks:—


"If Whitefield and the Wesleys are permitted to hold their conventicles at pleasure, and to ramble up and down, singing psalms, and preaching in the open streets, or in the more open fields, wanton curiosity will carry thousands to hear them; hundreds of the ignorant multitude will innocently be corrupted; and the preachers' vanity and enthusiasm, if possible, will be still more inflamed by a fond imagination that their hearers are all admirers, whereas most of them would as eagerly attend any other monster equally as strange as that of a clergyman preaching in a gown and cassock on a common."

On May 26, nearly two pages of the same newspaper were again filled with virulent abuse of Whitefield. The following is an extract:—

"I am told that this unfortunate young man is forced upon this method of preaching. Hard, indeed, if it be so; but I take it to be much harder upon us that we must be forced to answer such impertinence. Have the bishops, from whom alone he ought to take directions, commanded him to turn mountebank? Is he compelled by military force, or by the violence of the people, to mount the stage? On the contrary, does he not put out bills in the daily papers, and invite people to assemble together contrary to law? I know of no force but an internal one—an impetuous impulse, from a degree of pride and vanity that is equalled by nothing but his weakness and folly."

This turbid wrathfulness was far from pleasant; but it failed in its purpose to put an end to Whitefield's preaching in the open air, and equally failed in diminishing the number of Whitefield's hearers. No doubt his action was irregular; perhaps, also, in his impetuous zeal, he sometimes indulged in censorious remarks respecting the clergy of the Established Church. As yet he was not a Dissenter; but his open connection with the Moravian brotherhood in Fetter Lane, and his repeated interviews with Quakers, fairly exposed him to the reasonable suspicion of his enemies, that he had Dissenting proclivities. He himself seems to have seen and felt this, and hence the somewhat ostentatious sacramental attendance at St. Paul's on May 20th. All this must be conceded; and it must likewise be allowed, that one of Whitefield's besetting sins, or rather one of his infirmities, was an unconsciously indulged inflatedness of mind, which led him (innocently enough on his own part) to the employment of bombastic expressions, and to the utterance of sentiments often silly, sometimes fanatical, and generally such as a more prudent and worldly wise man would not have used. It would be idle, it would be dishonest, to deny[219] that his published Journals abound in such-like faults, though they have not in the present work been quoted. But what then? Was it right, was it fair, to treat him with so much contempt and ridicule? His moral character was without a speck. His intellect and literary attainments, though not equal to those of his friend Wesley, made him immensely superior to scores and hundreds who were enjoying rich livings in the Established Church. He had no wish to share their ecclesiastical emoluments, but was quite content with his mongrel parish among the swamps of far-distant Georgia. It is true, he desired to have the use of some of their churches, to which he was not at all entitled; but he desired even this not for his own benefit, but rather that he might have the opportunity of proclaiming, trumpet-tongued, some of the forgotten truths of the word of God, and that he might collect a little money for the orphans in Georgia. The clergy had a perfect right to deny him the use of their churches. Perhaps, being so young a man, it was hardly modest for him to expect the privilege of using them; but, having no other place in which to preach, why should he not be allowed to preach in Kingswood, at Rose Green, on Hannam Mount, in Moorfields, on Kennington Common, and Hampstead Heath? His zeal in the cause of Christ, and his love for the souls of men, were not fictitious. They were divinely implanted principles, the results of a genuine conversion, and which ought not to be repressed. Wherever Whitefield met a man, he met a sinner redeemed by the sacrificial death of his Divine Redeemer. As yet he had not become a Calvinist. On Kennington Common, he felt no restraint in "offering Jesus Christ to all" the thousands there assembled. Christ had died for them. Whitefield longed to save them. Why should doctors of divinity, and the writers of anonymous articles in the Church of England newspaper, dare to hinder him?

Whitefield has mentioned his collections for the Orphan House in Georgia; and some, considering the hugeness of his congregations, may think them scarcely worth recording; but two other facts must be borne in mind. The age in which Whitefield lived was not one remarkable for its charitable contributions; and, further, money then was at[220] least three or four times more valuable than money now. Multiply by such a number the amount of Whitefield's collections, and their comparison with some of the Methodist collections of the present day will not dishonour them.

It may reasonably be asked, what was there in this youthful evangelist to draw around him such prodigious congregations? His warmest friends must admit that he was far from being perfect. Not only Churchmen, but Dissenters, saw his faults. It is a curious fact, that Dr. Doddridge, in some respects the most distinguished Nonconformist of the age, was present at one of the Kennington Common meetings which have been already mentioned. In a letter dated "Epsom, May 24, 1739," he writes:—

"I saw Mr. Whitefield preaching on Kennington Common, last week, to an attentive multitude, and heard much of him at Bath; but, supposing him sincere and in good earnest, I still fancy that he is but a weak man,—much too positive, says rash things, and is bold and enthusiastic. I think, what he says and does comes but little short of an assumption of inspiration or infallibility."[213]

In this unfavourable opinion, Dr. Doddridge was not alone. Dr. Watts, the other great Dissenter then living, in a letter dated "August 15, 1739," wrote as follows:—

"I wish Mr. Whitefield would not have risen above any pretences to the ordinary influences of the Holy Spirit, unless he could have given some better evidences of it. He has acknowledged to me in conversation that he knows an impression on his mind to be divine, though he cannot give me any convincing proofs of it. I said many things to warn him of the danger of delusion, and to guard him against the irregularities and imprudences which youth and zeal might lead him into; and told him plainly that, though I believed him very sincere, and desirous to do good to souls, yet I was not convinced of any extraordinary call he had to some parts of his conduct. He seemed to take this free discourse in a very candid and modest manner."[214]

A witness of another kind may be introduced. Samuel Johnson was nearly of the same age as Whitefield. Both had been students in Pembroke College, Oxford. Johnson was fallible, faulty, and full of personal prejudices; but he was a man of great ability, and of unblemished truthfulness. He knew Whitefield, and was not unqualified to[221] pronounce an opinion concerning him. That opinion must be judged by its own merits; but being expressed by a distinguished contemporary, it deserves attention. Boswell, Johnson's biographer, writes:—

"Of his fellow-collegian, the celebrated Mr. George Whitefield, he said: 'Whitefield's popularity is chiefly owing to the peculiarity of his manner. He would be followed by crowds, were he to wear a night-cap in the pulpit, or were he to preach from a tree."[215] "He never drew as much attention as a mountebank does; he did not draw attention by doing better than others, but by doing what was strange. Were Astley to preach a sermon standing upon his head on a horse's back, he would collect a multitude to hear him; but no wise man would say he made a better sermon for that. I never treated Whitefield's ministry with contempt: I believe he did good. He devoted himself to the lower classes of mankind, and among them he was of use. But when familiarity and noise claim the praise due to knowledge, art, and elegance, we must beat down such pretensions.'"[216]

Doubtless there is truth in Johnson's opinion, that, one reason why Whitefield had such crowds to hear him was because it was a perfect novelty to have a clergyman of the Church of England preaching, in gown and cassock, in the open air. It was a further novelty to see such a clergyman standing up to preach without reading the appointed liturgy of the Church, and using extemporaneous prayers in lieu of it. It is also probable that Whitefield created considerable sensation by employing language such as the clergy in their churches were not wont to use. All this may be conceded; and it might likewise be allowed, that, to a large extent, Dr. Trapp and the editor of the Weekly Miscellany defeated their own purposes, and that, by their virulent attempts to dishonour Whitefield, they helped to make him more popular. On the other hand, however, it must be borne in mind that opinions like those of Doddridge and Watts were widely entertained both by Churchmen and Dissenters, and that such a fact was not likely to contribute to the largeness of Whitefield's congregations. The reasons above assigned, for Whitefield's popularity, may be perfectly correct, but they are not complete; for to them must be added the following: (1) Whatever his faults might be, Whitefield was a natural orator of the highest order. (2) The truths which[222] distinguished his preaching were truths exactly adapted to the wants and yearnings of human nature,—such as meet the necessities of human beings of all classes, in all lands, and belonging to all ages. (3) Speaking generally, these truths, until recently, had been forgotten, and were not preached in the churches and chapels of England. (4) Whitefield preached them with a fervour which shewed that he believed them. (5) Above all, in answer to the long-continued prayers of the Religious Societies, and by the sovereign grace of God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, was now moving the masses of the people, and making them anxious concerning their personal salvation; and, further, He was connecting with Whitefield's ministry a "power from on high," like that which distinguished the Apostles' ministry at Pentecost, and making it the means of turning men "from sin to holiness, and from the power of Satan unto God." Let the reader ponder such facts as these, and, perhaps, his wonder will cease at the tens of thousands who tramped from London to Kennington Common to hear the unpolished and imperfect sermons of this youthful Methodist, whose years had not yet reached twenty-five.

While Whitefield was preaching to his large congregations on Kennington Common and in Moorfields, Wesley was similarly employed at Bristol and Kingswood. It is a curious fact that, though Whitefield was forbidden to preach in Newgate Prison, Bristol, Wesley was admitted. Another notable incident must be mentioned. In Bristol and its neighbourhood, Wesley was daily witnessing the most remarkable conversions,—conversions accompanied by those mysterious convulsions that have perplexed all his biographers. In London, Whitefield had prodigious congregations, and his oratorical powers were far greater than those of his friend Wesley; but where were his conversions? His congregations were often powerfully affected; and, on May 12th, he speaks of "many" coming to him, and telling him "what God had done for their souls by his preaching in the fields;" but this, in substance, is all that he himself records. Perhaps this difference in ministerial results may be accounted for by the fact, that nearly the whole of the conversions under Wesley's ministry took place in the[223] meetings of the Religious Societies, where united prayer was always joined to scriptural exposition. On the other hand, during this month of May, Whitefield devoted himself almost exclusively to the work of preaching to vast crowds in the open air, where private spiritual enquiries and united prayers for penitents were impracticable. Besides, at the first, Whitefield strongly objected to such conversions as his friend Wesley was witnessing; and plainly told him that, though he doubted not that God was in the work, yet he equally believed the devil was interposing. He wrote:—

"Were I to give so much encouragement to those convulsions as you have given, how many would cry out every night? I think it is tempting God to require such signs."[217]

Whitefield, however, was not without conversions; and two notable instances must be mentioned here.

Wesley, a few months before he died, said, "Joseph Humphreys was the first lay preacher that assisted me in England, in the year 1738."[218] Who was Joseph Humphreys? The following particulars are gleaned from a pamphlet of forty-four pages, published in 1742, and entitled, "An Account of Joseph Humphreys' Experience of the Work of Grace upon his Heart. Bristol: printed by Felix Farley."

Joseph Humphreys was born at Burford, in Oxfordshire, October 28, 1720, where his father, for nearly thirty years, was the minister of a Dissenting congregation. Joseph was educated at a grammar school at Fairford, in Gloucestershire. His father died in 1733; and being, says Joseph, "uncommonly zealous in his day both for faith and holiness, he was almost universally despised both by Church-people and Dissenters." After his father's death, Joseph was sent to a school in London, "where young men were trained for the ministry." At this early period of his life, he had determined to be a minister, and says, "I used to write sermons of my own composing, thundering exceedingly against all unrepenting sinners." "The pupils every evening took their turns in prayer;" and Joseph thought himself "highly[224] blessed in having his lot cast with such pious, serious young men." He was soon shocked, however, by the fact "that these same young men indulged in light and foolish talking and jesting, playing at draughts, fives, blindman's buff, hunt the shoe, and such-like ludicrous games, quite unbecoming such as professed godliness." By degrees, Joseph grew to be as light-hearted as the rest, and, without confessing it, became an infidel. After indulging in a frightful excess of wickedness, he again began to be religious; and writes:—

"I was for joining the Papists, Church-people, and Dissenters of all denominations in one; I was for reconciling the Arians, Socinians, Arminians, and Calvinists altogether; I would have had them lay aside all disputable points, and harmonize in those things wherein they were all agreed. I liked those men who were for reducing the Christian Articles to a few; and if any one called the Pope Antichrist, I thought he was very ignorant and uncharitable."

In the year 1737, Joseph became a member of the Independent Church, in London, presided over by the Rev. Dr. Guyse; but was still unconverted. Notwithstanding this, however, on June 18, 1738, he began to preach. Six months afterwards, Whitefield returned to England, and Humphreys writes:—

"About this time there was great talk of Mr. Whitefield; and, accordingly, on May 2, 1739, I went to hear him on Kennington Common. I liked him, because he so affectionately invited poor guilty sinners to come to Jesus Christ by faith. I afterwards heard him several times. I felt the power of the Lord to be with him; and was much affected to see the seriousness and tears of many in the congregations. The flocking of the multitudes to hear the word made me think and say, 'It was never so seen in Israel.' One evening, as I was coming home from hearing him, I wept exceedingly, thinking what a hearty, pious minister he was (though educated at such a wicked place as Oxford) in comparison of what any of us at our academy were like to be. I earnestly sought his acquaintance; and, accordingly, one evening I supped with him and Mr. Howell Harris, and several more brethren, at a public-house on Blackheath, just after his preaching to a most numerous congregation. The public-house seemed to be turned into a church; and to me it was like heaven upon earth. One Sabbath-day, I think it was June 3, as we were singing a hymn at the academy, I had such a taste of the dying love of Christ as I never had before. My heart was quite melted, and my eyes were a fountain of tears. When I came forth, one of the pupils asked me what was the matter with me? I told him I was happy. When another enquired the same, I signified that I felt more than I could express."


Humphreys was still a student in the Dissenting Academy (which had been removed to Deptford), and, though he was not nineteen years of age, yet, being intended for the ministry, he began, in the month of the ensuing August, to preach in "a large dancing room." He had crowded congregations, and soon formed a Religious Society consisting of a hundred and forty members. He writes:—

"I insisted chiefly upon a sinner's justification before God, through the Redeemer's merits; and shewed the nature, necessity, and blessedness of it. For this, I was soon violently opposed. I became the butt of the common people; I was singular in the school; was threatened by my tutor; dropped by most of my old friends; deemed beside myself by some; and at last, December 25, 1739, was expelled the academy, for no other crime but this."

For about a year, Humphreys found a refuge in the academy of Mr. J. Eames, in Moorfields; and, while pursuing his studies, ministered to the Religious Societies of Deptford, Greenwich, and Ratcliffe. The clergy preached against him; and two pamphlets were published, which, says he, "were not worth reading, much less answering."

"The rude mob," he writes, "treated both me and the people most roughly; haling us about, throwing us upon the ground, beating us, and pelting us with stones or brickbats, rotten eggs, apples, dung, and fireworks. Officers sent their men to press me. I was hooted at along the streets; spit upon; called names; threatened, reviled, and belied; hated of all, and counted the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things. I was frequently in danger, not only of having my eyes, but also my brains, beat out by the large flints that were continually thrown upon the roof of the barn where I preached."

Often while young Humphreys was preaching, numbers of his hearers were thrown into convulsions similar to those which occurred under Wesley's ministry at Bristol. Humphreys writes:—

"Their bodies were strangely agitated; their bones would sometimes seem to be out of joint; their breasts would heave prodigiously; some would bite, tear, and beat themselves, and do mischief to others also, unless they were forcibly held down; and some would roar hideously, crying out that the devil was coming to fetch them, or to torment them. That it was no feigned thing, at least in most of them, is most certain. That it was occasioned in some by sympathy, I will not deny; but I do really believe that in others it was occasioned by a discovery of their[226] undone condition; and was followed by true conversion to the Lord. I own that the cases of some who were thus affected was so unaccountable, to this day, I am at a stand to determine how or what it was. For what I know, they might be torn by the devil. God might suffer Satan to be let loose upon them for a season; generally, however, it was so awful, that the beholders durst not make game of it. I only relate matters of fact; and do not pretend to say that all were renewed or converted who were thus affected, for I believe no such thing, but the contrary. Neither could I ever look upon these things as signs from heaven for the establishment or confirmation of any particular doctrine. I rather think the case was often this: the word of God would come with a convincing light and power into the consciences of sinners, whereby they were so far awakened, as to be seized with dreadful terrors. The rebellion of their natures would be raised; the peace of the strong man armed would be disturbed; hell within would begin to roar; the devil, that before, being unmolested, lay quiet in their hearts, would now be stirred up, and be most outrageously angry, because of this convincing light and power of the word. Hence, I believe, proceeded some of these agonies of body. And all this might be, and perhaps frequently was, without any real change of heart; for I depend upon no such things as proofs of a person's conversion to God. Rather let this be made manifest by the fruits of righteousness, in all gracious tempers and conversation, with perseverance therein unto the end.

"September 1, 1740. I began to preach at the Foundery in London, to Mr. Wesley's congregation, and many a powerful opportunity there was. In the private society also we had many sweet meetings. At this time, I had a very great intimacy with the Rev. Mr. John Wesley. We were together almost continually night and day. There were many things very exemplary in him—worthy, indeed, of every minister's and every Christian's imitation. But, on account of some important doctrines of grace wherein we differed, I was obliged, on April 25, 1741, to separate from him.

Space forbids further details respecting Joseph Humphreys. Suffice it to say that, in the month of May, 1741, he joined himself to Whitefield, and acted as one of his itinerant preachers. Such he was in the twenty-first year of his age. In the pamphlet, from which these facts are taken, he declares himself a Dissenter. In some respects, he was a remarkable man; and the reader will meet with him again. The following is Wesley's summary of his life:—

"1790. September 9. I read over the experience of Joseph Humphreys, the first lay teacher that assisted me in England, in the year 1738. From his own mouth, I learn that he was perfected in love, and so continued for at least a twelvemonth. Afterwards, he turned Calvinist, and joined Mr. Whitefield, and published an invective against my brother[227] and me in the newspaper. In a while, he renounced Mr. Whitefield, and was ordained a Presbyterian minister. At last he received Episcopal ordination. He then scoffed at inward religion, and when reminded of his own experience, replied, 'That was one of the foolish things which I wrote in the time of my madness.'"

At the risk of wearying the reader, another of Whitefield's converts, belonging to this period, must be introduced.

Joseph Periam was the son of respectable parents, who appear to have resided at Bethnal Green. Joseph had been articled to an attorney, and intended to devote himself to the legal profession. He read Whitefield's sermon on the New Birth, and was converted. The change in him was so great, that his father and friends thought him mad. The "symptoms" or proofs of his madness were three. 1. He had fasted for a fortnight. 2. He had prayed loud enough to be heard all over a house four storeys high. 3. He had sold his clothes and given the money to the poor. The first of these allegations was probably a fact exaggerated. The second, in all likelihood, was perfectly correct. The third also was literally true; for, says Whitefield,—

"Joseph ingenuously confessed to me, that, under his first awakenings, he was one day reading the story of the young man whom our Lord commanded to sell all he had, and to give to the poor, and, thinking it must be taken in the literal sense, out of love, to Jesus Christ, he sold his clothes, and gave the money to the poor."

For such reasons, Joseph Periam was put into the general receptacle of all London lunatics—Bethlehem Hospital; an old edifice founded in 1547, and standing in St. George's Fields, Lambeth. The institution was a disgrace to all connected with it. The miserable inmates were treated most brutally. Their terrible affliction was turned into pecuniary profit, and the hospital received about 400 a year, in the form of fees, collected by exhibiting the poor maniacs, chiefly naked, and uniformly chained to the walls of their respective dungeons. The practice of entertaining the outside public by thus shewing the inside patients of this infernal prison house was not abolished until the year 1770; and, even then, the abolition was unaccompanied by any other improvement of the usage of the unhappy[228] sufferers.[219] If men were not mad when they entered, there was enough to make them mad before they left.

Joseph Periam became the occupant of No. 50 in this dismal dungeon, miscalled an hospital. "His room," says Whitefield, "was a cold place, without windows, and had a damp cellar under it." On entering, Joseph's first refection was a dose of physic. Whitefield writes:—

'Being sensible that he wanted no physic, Joseph was unwilling at first to take it; upon which four or five men took hold of him, cursed him most heartily, put a key into his mouth, threw him upon the bed, and said, 'You are one of Whitefield's gang,' and so drenched him."

Poor Periam wrote to Whitefield as follows:—

"Bethlehem Hospital, No. 50.

"Dear Sir,—I have read your sermon on the New Birth, and hope I shall always have a due sense of my dear Redeemer's goodness to me. May Almighty God bless and preserve you, and prosper your ministerial function! I wish, sir, I could have some explanatory notes upon the New Testament, to enlighten the darkness of my understanding, to make me capable of becoming a good soldier of Jesus Christ; but, above all, I should like to see you.

"I am, dear Sir, yours affectionately with my whole heart,
"Joseph Periam."

Whitefield writes:—

"According to his request, I paid him a visit, and found him in perfect health both in body and mind."

On the 5th of May, 1739, in the midst of his marvellous services on Kennington Common, Whitefield received another letter from Periam, stating that he was "surrounded with nothing but profaneness and wickedness;" that he had to go into his "cell at seven or eight o'clock at night, and was not let out till six or seven in the morning;" and that, being "debarred the use of candles, and consequently books, all that time, except what was spent in prayer and meditation, was lost; and though these exercises were good, yet by constant repetition, and for want of change, they were deadened." He also asked whether his objections to being thus "imprisoned were inconsistent or wicked, and whether he might[229] not, without offence to God, make use of endeavours to be discharged?" He likewise wished to know whether, being discharged, he might, "without offence to the gospel of Jesus Christ, follow the business of an attorney?" And, finally, the poor fellow asked, "If I cannot be discharged by proper application, how can I best spend my time to the glory of God and my own and my brethren's welfare?"

To this lengthened letter, Whitefield sent the following reply:—

"May 7, 1739.

"Dear Sir,—The way to salvation is by Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The way to Christ is by faith. 'Whosoever liveth and believeth in me,' says our Lord, 'though he were dead, yet shall he live.' But this faith, if it is saving faith, will work by love. Come, then, to Jesus Christ as a poor sinner, and He will make you a rich saint. This, I think, serves as an answer to your first query.

"It is, no doubt, your duty, whilst you are in the house, to submit to the rules of it; but, then, you may use all lawful means to get yourself out. I have just now been with your sister, and will see what can be done further. Watch and pray.

"As for the business of an attorney, I think it unlawful for a Christian; at least, exceeding dangerous. Avoid it, therefore, and glorify God in some other station.

"I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and servant,
"George Whitefield."

On May 9, Periam wrote again to Whitefield as follows:—

"My father was with me last night, when I shewed him your letter. I told him, I utterly renounced the business, of an attorney. He then asked me what profession I chose; which I submitted to him, on condition it might prove agreeable to the will of God. He was pleased to say, he thought me not mad, but very well in my senses, and would take me out, if Doctor Monro and the committee were of his opinion. Then he varied again, and thought it convenient for me to stay the summer, and to take physic twice a week, fearing a relapse. I told him, as a father, he should be obeyed; but when, at parting, he mentioned my leaving religion, I was somewhat stirred in my spirit, and told him nothing should prevail upon me to leave Jesus Christ.

"This is the substance of what passed between us. Upon the whole matter, sir, God gives me perfect resignation, and, I trust, when He shall see fit, will discharge me. I find His love daily more and more shed abroad in my heart. All things will work together for my good. If opportunity will let you, I should be glad to see you before you set out for America. May Almighty God, in His infinite goodness, prosper, guide, and protect you through this transitory life, and hereafter receive you[230] triumphantly into the heavenly Jerusalem, there to converse with, and see the ever-blessed Jesus!"

Your loving and sincere friend,
"Joseph Periam."

"Upon reading this," says Whitefield, "I was sensibly touched with a fellow-feeling of his misery; and, at my request, Mr. Seward and two more friends waited upon the committee. But, alas! they esteemed my friends as much mad as the young man, and frankly told them, both I and my followers were insane. My friend Seward urged the examples of the young persons, who called the prophet, that was sent to anoint Jehu king, a mad fellow; of our Lord, whom His own relations, and the scribes and Pharisees, took to be mad; and of Festus's opinion of St. Paul. He further urged, that, when young people were under their first awakenings, they were usually tempted by the devil to run into some extremes. In the midst of the conference, the committee mentioned Periam's going to Georgia, and said, if I would take him with me, they would engage that his father should give leave to have him released. A day or two after, Mr. Seward waited upon his father, who gave his son an excellent character, and consented to his going abroad. After this, he waited upon the doctor, who pronounced him well; and, on May 19th, he waited again upon the committee, who behaved very civilly, and gave the young man a discharge. He is now with me, and I hope he will be an instrument of doing good. The hardships he has endured at Bethlehem will, I hope, prepare him for what he must undergo abroad."

Thus was Joseph Periam put into an execrable madhouse; and thus was he taken out. It is not necessary to trace his subsequent career; and this apparently long digression will be pardoned, when it is remembered that, at the time, Periam's case caused great excitement, and that it occupied a prominent position in a hostile pamphlet, of ninety-six pages, entitled "The Life of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, by an Impartial Hand."

It is time to return to Whitefield in London. In the midst of his unequalled popularity, he wrote to his friend Harris, of Gloucester, as follows:—

"London, May 10, 1739.

"Dear Mr. Harris,—The hour for my imprisonment is not yet come. I am not fit as yet to be so highly honoured. God only knows the treachery of my heart; but, amidst all my late success, I have scarce felt one self-complacent thought. I speak this to the honour of God's free grace.

"In about three weeks, God willing, we embark for Pennsylvania. The trustees have granted to me land, and everything upon my own terms. The officers and general are exceeding kind to my friend Habersham, upon my account, so that all things succeed beyond my expectations.

"Ever, ever yours,
"George Whitefield."


Whitefield's expectation of sailing so soon was not realized. On May 21, he left London, and reached Hertford, between eight and nine o'clock at night. His fame had gone before him, and, late as was the hour, he preached, on a common near the town, to four or five thousand hearers. Next morning, he preached in the same place, to nearly as large a congregation; then he breakfasted with a Dissenting minister; and then proceeded to Olney, where he arrived about ten p.m. Being denied the use of the church pulpit, he, on the day following, "preached in a field, near the town, to about two thousand people." At five in the evening, he reached Northampton, and "was most courteously received by Doctor Doddrige," the famous Dissenting minister; and, "at seven, according to appointment, preached, on a common, to about three thousand hearers." On Thursday, May 24, he "preached again in the same place, at about eight in the morning, but to a much larger audience." He then hastened back to Olney, and, in the midst of an incessant rain, preached "upon an eminence in the street." At seven in the evening, he got to Bedford, and says, "I found the town fully alarmed. About eight, I preached from the stairs of a windmill (the pulpit of my dear brother and fellow-labourer, Mr. Rogers),[220] to about three thousand people. Friday, May 25, preached at seven in the morning to rather a larger congregation than before. Reached Hitchin about one o'clock; and, at two, got upon a table in the market-place, near the church; but some were pleased to ring the bells in order to disturb us. Upon this, we removed into the fields; but, the sun beating intensely on my head, I became exceedingly sick, and was obliged, in a short time, to break off. I lay down for about two hours, and then came and preached near the same place, and God was with us. It was surprising to see how the hearts of the people were knit to me. I could have continued[232] longer with them; but, being under an engagement to go to St. Albans, I hastened thither, but could not preach on account of my coming in so late. Great numbers had been there expecting me; and it grieved me to think how little I could do for Christ." The people of St. Albans, however, were not wholly disappointed; for, at seven next morning, he preached, in a field, to about fifteen hundred people; and then "got safe to London by two in the afternoon." In the evening of the same day, his congregation on Kennington Common numbered "about fifteen thousand."

Thus did Whitefield spend the six days between Sunday, May 20, and Sunday, May 27. The toil of travelling was not a trifle; but, besides this, a dozen sermons were delivered, and all in the open air. Whitefield writes:—

"Blessed be God! this has been a week of fat things: many sinners convicted; and many saints much comforted, and established in their most holy faith. I find there are some thousands of secret ones yet living amongst us, who have not bowed the knee to Baal; and this public way of acting brings them out. It much comforts me, wherever I go, to see so many of God's children, of all communions, come and wish me good luck in the name of the Lord. I perceive the people would be everywhere willing to hear, if the ministers were ready to teach them the truth as it is in Jesus. Lord, do Thou spirit up more of my dear friends and fellow-labourers to go out into the highways and hedges, to compel poor sinners to come in! Amen!"

The Weekly Miscellany—the recognized newspaper of the Church of England—could not allow even this brief country excursion to pass unnoticed. On June 2, it had a short article to the following effect:—

"On Tuesday last week, Mr. Whitefield called at Hitchin, on his way to Bedford, and, at the desire of several Dissenters, was prevailed on to return there on Friday last, at which time several hundred Dissenters of that parish, and the neighbouring Dissenters, attended him; but, being denied the use of the church, he mounted a table in the market-place, on which the bells were set a-ringing. He afterwards returned to the place of execution, and, according to his usual method, sung a psalm, and began to harangue his auditors from, 'We would see Jesus;' but, being overcharged——, he was obliged to break off abruptly."

There can be no doubt, that, not only at Hitchin, but throughout the whole of this week's tour, the Dissenters were Whitefield's chief auditors; but the sneer at the end of the[233] extract just given, was a foul and filthy falsehood, altogether unworthy of the Church of England's chief newspaper.

Being returned to London, Whitefield resumed his field-preaching with as much zest as ever. On Sunday morning, May 27, he preached, for nearly two hours, "to about twenty thousand at Moorfields." During the day, he "went twice to public worship, and received the blessed sacrament." In the evening, at Kennington Common, he addressed a congregation of thirty thousand.

The following are extracts from his Journal:—

"Monday, May 28. Preached, after earnest and frequent invitation, at Hackney, in a field belonging to Mr. Rudge, to about ten thousand hearers. I insisted much upon the reasonableness of the doctrine of the new birth, and the necessity of our receiving the Holy Ghost, in His sanctifying gifts and graces, as well now as formerly; and I could not help exposing the impiety of those letter-learned teachers, who say, we are not now to receive the Holy Ghost, and who count the doctrine of the new birth, enthusiasm. Out of your own mouths will I condemn you, you wicked blind guides. Did you not, at the time of ordination, tell the bishop, that you were inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost, to take upon you the administration of the Church? Surely, at that time, you acted the crime of Ananias and Sapphira over again. You lied, not unto man, but, unto God."

Thus did Whitefield openly attack the clergy of his own Church; for the Journal containing this was immediately published, and, before the end of the year 1739, passed through three editions. No wonder that there were clerical replies of an angry sort. It was unwise, for so young a man, to make such assaults; and, in many instances, the castigations he received were not unmerited. His business was not to annoy and irritate the clergy; but to preach forgotten truths, and to convert sinners.

"Tuesday, May 29. Went to public service at Westminster Abbey. Afterwards despatched business for my orphans, and preached, at Kennington, to a most devout auditory, with much sweetness and power.

"Wednesday, May 30. Waited upon the Bishop of Bristol,[221] (who treated me with the utmost civility,) and received his lordship's benefaction for Georgia. At the request of many, I preached, in the evening, at[234] Newington Common, to about fifteen thousand people. The word came with power; and, seeing a great multitude, I thought proper to collect for the Orphan House; and 16 9s. 4d. were gathered on that occasion.

"Thursday, May 31. I preached at Kennington, to my usual congregation; and three of my brethren in the ministry were pleased to accompany me, which filled the people with exceeding great joy.

"Friday, June 1. Dined at Old Ford, and gave a short exhortation to a few people in a field. In the evening, preached at a place called Mayfair, near Hyde Park Corner. The congregation, I believe, consisted of near eighty thousand people. It was, by far, the largest I ever preached to yet. In the time of my prayer, there was a little noise; but they kept a deep silence during my whole discourse. A high and very commodious scaffold was erected for me to stand upon; and God strengthened me to speak so loud, that most could hear, and so powerfully, that most, I believe, could feel. All love, all glory be to God through Christ!

"Saturday, June 2. Sent another Quaker to be baptized by Mr. Stonehouse. Collected, by private contributions, nearly 50 for the orphans. In the evening, preached at Hackney to about ten thousand; and 20 12s. 4d. were gathered for the same objects.

"Sunday, June 3. Preached at Moorfields to a larger congregation than ever, and collected 29 17s. 9d. for the Orphan House. Went twice to public worship, and received the sacrament. Preached in the evening at Kennington Common, to the most numerous audience I ever yet saw in that place, and collected 34 5s."[222]

This, for the present, was Whitefield's farewell sermon on Kennington Common. During the last five weeks, he had preached twenty-one times in this open-air cathedral; the crowds who had flocked to hear him were marvellous; upon the whole there had been no disturbances worth mentioning; God had abundantly blessed the young preachers' labours; and the services throughout had astonished, not only Whitefield, but likewise Whitefield's friends and enemies. The scene, when, on June 3, he took his leave of this memorable spot, was profoundly affecting. He writes:—

"When I mentioned my departure from them, the people were melted into tears. Thousands of ejaculations and fervent prayers were poured out to God on my behalf, which gave me abundant reason to be thankful[235] to my dear Master. O what marvellous great kindness has God shewn me in this great city! Indeed, I have seen the kingdom of God come with power."

At this point, Whitefield concluded his "Journal from his Arrival at London to his Departure from thence on his way to Georgia." This, as already stated, was immediately published. All the important facts in it have been narrated. Many juvenile reflections on passing occurrences, and imprudent remarks respecting himself, have been omitted. They were perfectly artless, and in an unpublished journal would have been innocent. It is difficult to determine whether Whitefield did right or wrong by giving his Journals to the public. No doubt, they were read with the utmost avidity by his friends; and it can hardly be questioned that they were, in many instances, the means of arousing slumbering piety. They are also of essential service to Whitefield's biographers, and no adequate life of the great preacher can be written without a liberal use of them. On the other hand, however, they created enormous prejudices against the Methodists in general, and, as will soon be seen, brought upon Whitefield in particular an amount of personal abuse almost without parallel.

Before leaving the subject, it must be added that Whitefield's two Journals of his "Voyage from London to Savannah in Georgia," extending from December 28, 1737, to May 7, 1738, were printed by his injudicious friends, without his knowledge, in 1738. During the year 1739, three other Journals were published by himself. 1. The "Journal from his Arrival at Savannah to his Return to London." (8vo. 38 pp.) 2. His "Journal from his Arrival at London to his Departure from thence on his Way to Georgia." (8vo. 115 pp.) In both instances the printer was James Hutton, the Moravian. The title of the last mentioned, however, is not correct, for (through no fault of his) Whitefield did not embark for Georgia until ten weeks after he preached his farewell sermon on Kennington Common. Hence, 3. During the same year, appeared the following: "A Continuation of the Reverend Mr. Whitefield's Journal during the Time he was detained in England by the Embargo." (8vo. 40 pp.) This extended from June 4 to August 3, 1739; and from it[236] and from other sources of information the following facts are gleaned.

It has been already stated that Dr. Trapp's "fourth and last Sermon against Mr. Whitefield and the Methodists," was preached on Sunday, May 20. Soon after this, Whitefield published the following: "A Preservative against unsettled Notions, and want of Principles, in regard to Righteousness and Christian Perfection. An explanatory Sermon on that mistaken text, 'Be not righteous over-much, neither make thyself over-wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?' Being a more particular Answer to Dr. Trapp's four Sermons upon the same text than have yet been published. By George Whitefield, A.B., of Pembroke College, Oxford. London: printed for G. Whitefield, in the year 1739." (12mo. 33 pp.)

In all respects, this was an unwise publication. Prefixed to it is a somewhat egotistic and ostentatious address, "To all the true members of Christ's holy Church," in which Whitefield says:—

"As the whole of this great nation seems now more than ever in danger of being hurried into one or other of these equally pernicious extremes—irreligion or fanaticism—I thought myself more than ordinarily obliged to rouse your, perhaps, drowsy vigilance, by warning you of the nearness of your peril. Take the friendly caution I give you in good part, and endeavour to profit by it. Be mindless of me, and attend wholly to the saving truths I here deliver to you from the mouth of God Himself. Of this only be persuaded, that they are uttered by one who has your eternal salvation as much at heart as his own."

The chief faults, however, of this sermonic pamphlet are its pious, but personal abuse of Dr. Trapp. The minister of the four churches of St. Leonard's, St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Christ Church, and Harlington, merited rebuke; but Whitefield's epithets and strictures were of greater service to Dr. Trapp than to the man who wrote them. With all his faults, Dr. Trapp was a distinguished man. At different periods of his life, he had been Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford; in the same college he had been appointed to the first Birkhead professorship of poetry; he had filled the office of chaplain to Sir Constantine Phipps, Lord Chancellor of Ireland; and he had published several poetical and other[237] works, of one of which the University of Oxford had marked their approval, by conferring upon him the degree of D.D. Further, he was now in his sixtieth year, and therefore much more than twice the age of Whitefield. His attack on young Whitefield had been fierce, almost savage; Whitefield's retaliatory attack was what? The reader must judge for himself. Whitefield writes:—

"This earthly-minded minister of a new gospel has taken a text which seems to favour his naughty purpose of weaning the well-disposed little ones of Christ from that perfect purity of heart and spirit which is necessary to all such as mean to live in our Lord Jesus. O Lord, what shall become of the flock when their shepherds betray them into the hands of the ravenous wolf! when a minister of Thy word perverts it to overthrow Thy kingdom, and to destroy Scripture with Scripture! Solomon, in the person of a desponding, ignorant, indolent liver, says to the man of righteousness: 'Be not righteous over-much, neither make thyself over-wise. Why shouldest thou destroy thyself?' But must my poor, angry, over-sighted brother Trapp, therefore, personate a character so unbecoming his function, merely to overthrow the express injunction of the Lord to us, which obliges us never to give over pursuing and thirsting after the perfect righteousness of Christ till we rest in Him? Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he says! Oh, what advantage might not Satan gain over the elect, if the false construction put upon this text by that unseeing teacher should prevail! Yet though he blushes not to assist Satan to bruise our heel, I shall endeavour to bruise the heads of both, by shewing the genuine sense of the text in question."

Having given what he conceives to be "the genuine sense," Whitefield proceeds:—

"This is the true, genuine sense of the text, and every other sense put upon it is false and groundless, and wrested rather to pervert than to explain the truth. O Christian simplicity, whither art thou fled? Why will not the clergy speak the truth? And why must this false prophet suffer thy people to believe a lie, because they have held the truth in unrighteousness? Raise up, I beseech Thee, O Lord, some true pastors, who may acquaint them with the nature and necessity of perfect righteousness, and lead them to that love of Christian perfection which the angry-minded, pleasure-taking Dr. Trapp labours to divert them from, by teaching that 'all Christians must have to do with some vanities.' Lord, open his eyes, and touch his heart, and convert him, and all those erring ministers who 'have seen vain and foolish things for Thy people, and have not discovered their iniquity to turn away their captivity.' For 'they have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink, they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.'"


"It is not surprising to see a man of this cast of mind making a vain ostentation of his little superficial acquaintance with the ancient Greeks and Romans. What is this but acting conformably to his principle, that all Christians must have to do with some vanities? And shall we wonder to hear such an one prefer their writings, to those of an apostle; or be astonished to see him wound the apostle with raillery for wishing to 'know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified'? No; with him it is consistency to laugh and reprove you out of the perfection of righteousness, which, however he may play with terms, is with him the same as being righteous over-much. What will not men advance who are drunk with passion, and intoxicated with self-love! To such lengths does the love of the world hurry these self-fond, merry-making worldlings. What wonder is it that lovers and strugglers after the perfect righteousness of Christ should be charged with enthusiasm, with folly, with fanaticism and madness? Can you be amazed at it, in an age 'when all manner of vice abounds to a degree almost unheard of'? when 'the land is full of adulterers,' and when, 'because of swearing, the land mourneth'? Oh, how is the faithful city become a harlot! Oh, how 'my heart within me is broken!' Because of the clergy, 'all my bones shake! I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome; because of the Lord, and because of the words of His holiness,' perverted by this deluded clergyman. When the clergy become teachers of worldly maxims, what can be expected from the laity?"

"Such is the language which the indolent, earthly-minded, pleasure-taking clergy of the Church of England use to strengthen the hands of evil-doers. Such is the doctrine of the letter-learned divine, who has dipped his pen in gall to decry perfect righteousness. But suffer not yourselves to be deluded by him. As I have already shewn you, he is grossly (Lord, grant he was not maliciously!) mistaken in his manner of explaining this text. He acts the character of a vain libertine, full of self-love and earthly desires. May I not—yea, must I not—warn you, that this man is an enemy to perfect righteousness in men through Christ Jesus, and therefore no friend to Christ? Oh that my head were an ocean, and my eyes fountains of tears, to weep night and day for this poor creature, this hoodwinked member of the clergy!"

This is quite enough. It is a painful task to adduce such extracts; but it would not be honest to withhold them. Whitefield's impetuous character, and the immense number and extreme violence of the publications against him and against the Methodists in general, cannot be understood without them. Whitefield's "Answer to Dr. Trapp's Four Sermons" was unworthy of him. It was an outburst of petulant irritation, all the more offensive because arrayed in the garb of piety. It did no good either to Whitefield or the cause of Christ. It, and similar attacks, to be noticed[239] shortly, brought upon him and his fellow-Methodists an enormous amount of personal abuse. No doubt, many of the clergy of the Church of England were "indolent, earthly-minded, and pleasure-taking;" but this was not the way to mend them. Whitefield's mission was not to rail against the clergy, but to convert sinners. The only excuses that can be made for him are, that he was young; that he was naturally impetuous and imprudent; that he had been greatly irritated; and that, perhaps, he was somewhat thrown off his balance by the unequalled popularity to which he had attained.

Having taken a formal leave of his congregations on Kennington Common, Whitefield, on June 4, proceeded to Blackheath. He writes: There was nearly as large a congregation as there was at Kennington yesterday. My discourse was nearly two hours long, and the people were so melted down, and wept so loud, that they almost drowned my voice. I could not but cry out, 'Come, ye Pharisees, come and see the Lord Jesus getting Himself the victory.'"

Next morning, Whitefield preached on Bexley Common, "to about three hundred people; and, in the evening, near Woolwich, to several thousands;" and spent the night with Mr. Delamotte, of Blendon.

On June 6, he did what he had not been allowed to do for some time past,—read prayers, and preached in two churches; in the morning, at Bexley, by invitation of the vicar, the Rev. Henry Piers; and in the evening, in a church adjoining Gravesend. "I have no objection," he writes, "against the excellent Liturgy of our Church, but highly approve of it, if ministers would lend me their churches to use it in. If not, let them blame themselves, that I pray and preach in the fields."

During these three days spent at Blackheath, Blendon, Bexley, and Gravesend, Whitefield was accompanied by Charles Wesley, who says:—

"Monday, June 4. I stood by G. Whitefield while he preached on the mount in Blackheath. The cries of the wounded were heard on every side. What has Satan gained by turning him out of the churches?

"Tuesday, June 5. I was with him at Blendon. Bowers and Bray" (two prominent Moravians) "followed us thither, drunk with the spirit of delusion. George honestly said, 'They were two grand enthusiasts.'


"Wednesday, June 6. Above sixty of the poor people had passed the night in Mr. Delamotte's barn, singing and rejoicing. I sang and prayed with them before the door. George's exhortations left them all in tears."

These were strange scenes, but want of space forbids comment.

Charles Wesley returned to London, and had a tussle with the Moravians. Two men, John Shaw and William Fish, were insolently zealous. "Shaw pleaded for his spirit of prophecy;" and accused Charles "with love of preeminence," and "with making proselytes twofold more children of the devil than before." Fish said Charles was delivered over unto Satan; and both he and Shaw declared themselves no longer members of the Church of England. Charles was also greatly annoyed by a mad prophetess, who had sprung up among the brethren. Whitefield heard of all this, and wrote as follows to the London Moravians:—

"Blendon, June 12, 1739.

"My dear Brethren in Christ,—I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. I find more and more that Satan has desired to have some of you in particular, that he may sift you as wheat, and, if possible, divide and separate you all. I hear there is a woman among you, who pretends to the spirit of prophecy; and, what is more unaccountable, I hear that Brother B—— (Bray?) seems to approve of her. You have great need, therefore, to try the spirits, whether they be of God. The devil is beginning to mimic God's work, and is now transforming himself into an angel of light, in order more effectually to gain his point. I cannot but think that Brother —— is at present under a spirit of delusion. He, as well as Brother ——, I believe, imagines there will be a power given to work miracles, and that now Christ is coming to reign a thousand years upon the earth. But what need is there of miracles, such as healing sick bodies, when we see greater miracles every day done by the power of God's Word? Why should we tempt God in requiring further signs? As for our Lord's coming at this time to reign upon the earth, I answer, 'It is not for us to know the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.' That a great work is begun is evident; that it will be carried on, I doubt not; but how it will end, I know not, neither do I desire to know. It is sufficient for me to do the work of the day in its day, and to rest satisfied in this, that all end in God's glory.

"My dear brethren, be not offended at this plainness of speech. I would all the Lord's servants were prophets; but then, I would not have people think themselves prophets of the Lord, when they are only enthusiasts. If Mr. —— is actuated by a good spirit, why is he not patient of reproof? Why does he fly into a passion when contradicted? Why does he pretend to be infallible, and that God always speaks in him?


"Pure unfeigned love causes me to use this freedom. Many of you God has worked upon by my ministry, and, therefore, I would not have you ignorant of Satan's devices. O beware of him at this time. Do not conceive prejudices against each other. Do not dispute, but love. Purge out the old leaven from amongst you. Build up each other in your most holy faith. My dear brethren, I am your common servant in our dear Lord Jesus,

"George Whitefield."

This is not the place to detail, at greater length, the wranglings between the Moravians and the Methodists; but, after this, with the exception of attending a Moravian love-feast on June 25, and a Society meeting on August 1, Whitefield seems to have had no further connection with the Brethren.

On June 7, Whitefield preached again in the church near Gravesend, and in Mr. Piers's church at Bexley; and, on the two following days, at Bexley, Charlton, and Dulwich. He was invited to Charlton by the Earl and Countess of Egmont, who entertained him "with the utmost civility."

On June 10, Whitsunday, he writes:—

"Preached with more power than ever, and assisted in administering the sacrament to about two hundred communicants in Bexley Church.[223] Dined, gave thanks, and sang hymns at Mr. Delamotte's. Preached with great power, in the evening, on Blackheath, to above twenty thousand people, and collected 16 7s. for the orphans. After sermon, I went to the Green Man, near the place where I preached, and continued till midnight instant in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and Christian communion. I believe there were fifty or sixty of us in all; and numbers stood by as spectators. Many of them watched unto prayer and praise all night."

This was a unique scene, in a public house, on the night of Whitsunday; but Whitefield writes:—

"I think it every Christian's duty to be particularly careful to glorify God in places where He is most dishonoured. Some can sing the songs of the drunkard in public houses; others can spend whole nights in chambering and wantonness; why should Christians be ashamed to sing songs of the Lamb, and spend nights in devotion?"


The sermon preached at Bexley was founded upon John vii. 37-39, and soon after was published with the following title: "The Indwelling of the Spirit, the Common Privilege of all Believers. A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of Bexley, in Kent, on Whitsunday, 1739. By George Whitefield, A.B., of Pembroke College, Oxford. London: printed for C. Whitefield, in the year 1739." (12mo. 26 pp.) Two or three extracts from it will help to convey an idea of the style of Whitefield's preaching at this important period of his history, and of his apparent severity towards the clergy of the Established Church.

Having laid down the doctrine, that the indwelling of the "Holy Spirit is the common privilege and portion of believers in all ages," he proceeds:—

"I am astonished that any who call themselves members, much more, that many who are preachers of the Church of England, should dare so much as open their lips against this. And yet, with grief I speak it, persons of the Established Church seem to be more generally ignorant of it than any Dissenters whatsoever. But, good God! my dear brethren, what have you been doing? How often have your hearts given your lips the lie! How often have you offered God the sacrifice of fools, and had your prayers turned into sin, if you approve of, and use our excellent Church Liturgy, and yet deny the Holy Spirit to be the portion of all believers! Oh that I had no reason to speak it! but many, who use our forms, talk and preach against the necessity of receiving the Holy Ghost now, as well as formerly; and not only so, but cry out against those who do insist upon it, as madmen, enthusiasts, schismatics, and underminers of the Established Constitution.

"But you are the schismatics, you are the bane of the Church of England, who are always crying out, 'the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord;' and yet starve the people out of our communion, by feeding them only with the dry husks of dead morality. We subscribe to our Articles, and make them serve for a key to get into Church preferment, and then preach contrary to these very Articles to which we have subscribed. Far be it from me to charge all the clergy with this hateful hypocrisy. No, blessed be God! there are some left among us who dare maintain the doctrines of the Reformation, and preach the truth as it is in Jesus. But the generality of the clergy are fallen from our Articles, and do not speak agreeable to them, or to the form of sound words, delivered in the Scriptures. Woe be unto such blind leaders of the blind! How can you escape the damnation of hell? Not all your learning (falsely so called), nor all your preferments, can keep you from the just judgment of God. Yet a little while, and we all shall appear before the tribunal of Christ. There, there will I meet you. There Jesus Christ, that great[243] shepherd and bishop of souls, shall determine who are the false prophets, who are the wolves in sheeps' clothing. But I can no more. It is an unpleasing task to censure any order of men, especially those who are in the ministry; nor would anything excuse it but necessity; that necessity which extorted from our Lord Himself so many woes against the scribes and Pharisees, the letter-learned rulers and teachers of the Jewish Church. And surely if I could bear to see people perish for lack of knowledge, and yet be silent towards those who keep from them the key of true knowledge, the very stones would cry out."

Whitefield brought upon himself great opprobrium by frequently designating the carnal and unconverted man "a motley mixture of brute and devil." One of the earliest uses of this strong expression occurs in the sermon from which the foregoing extract has been selected; and, as the following is a good specimen of the plain, powerful language the young preacher used, no excuse is needed for its insertion.

"O man! whosoever thou art that deniest the doctrine of original sin, if thy conscience be not scared as with a hot iron, tell me if thou dost not find thyself, by nature, to be a motley mixture of brute and devil? I know these terms will stir up the whole Pharisee in thy heart; but stop a little, and let us reason together. Dost thou not find that, by nature, thou art prone to pride? Otherwise, wherefore art thou now offended? Again, dost not thou find in thyself the seeds of malice, revenge, and all uncharitableness? And what are these but the very tempers of the devil? Again, do we not all, by nature, suffer ourselves to be led by our natural appetites, always looking downwards, never looking upwards to that God, in whom we live, move, and have our being? And what is this but the very nature of the beasts that perish? Out of thy own heart, therefore, will I oblige thee to confess, what an inspired apostle has long since told us, that the whole world, by nature, lies in the wicked one, that is, the devil; and that we are no better than those whom St. Jude calls brute beasts; for we have tempers, by nature, that prove to a demonstration that we are altogether earthly, sensual, and devilish."

One more extract must suffice. It presents Whitefield in another aspect,—pathetically and lovingly entreating sinners to be reconciled to God:—

"When Joseph was called out of the prison-house to Pharaoh's court, we are told, he stayed some time to prepare himself; but do you come with all your prison clothes about you. Come, poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked, as you are; and God will receive you, with open arms, as He did the prodigal. O let there be joy in heaven over some of you believing. Let me not go back to my Master, and say, Lord, they will not believe my report. Believe me, I am willing to go to prison or death for[244] you; but I am not willing to go to heaven without you. The love of Christ constrains me to lift up my voice like a trumpet. My heart is now full. Out of the abundance of the love which I have for your precious and immortal souls, my mouth now speaketh. Why should I despair of any? No, I can despair of no one, when I consider Jesus Christ has had mercy on such a wretch as I am. However you may think of yourselves, I know that, by nature, I am but half a devil, and half a beast. The free grace of Christ prevented me. He saw me in my blood; He passed by; and said unto me, 'Live!' And the same grace, which was sufficient for me, is sufficient for you also. Come, then, my guilty brethren, come and believe on the Lord who brought you with His precious blood. Look up by faith, and see Him whom you have pierced. Behold Him bleeding, panting, dying. Behold Him with arms stretched out ready to receive you all."

Remembering that these are perfectly fair specimens of Whitefield's preaching, it is difficult to account for his enormous popularity. There is no genius, no poetry, no learning, no elaborate exposition, no profundity of thought, no embellishment of language, no anecdotes, no dramatic illustrations. There is much that is familiar, a little that is coarse, and more of egotism than is seemly in a young man of twenty-four. But, notwithstanding all this, Whitefield's popularity was unequalled.

The visit to Blackheath and its neighbourhood—in all respects a pleasant one—extended to nearly a fortnight, and Whitefield's principal home was the house of Mr. Delamotte at Blendon. Of course, he preached daily, sometimes in Mr. Piers's church at Bexley, occasionally at Dulwich, often at Blackheath, and two or three times to a few "gentlemen and ladies," in Mrs. S——'s house, at Lewisham. On one occasion, after he had preached in Bexley Church, he helped to administer the sacrament to nearly three hundred communicants, most of whom had followed him from London. Again and again, on Blackheath, his congregations consisted of twenty thousand people. Here, on Thursday, June 14, John and Charles Wesley came to see him. John Wesley had been preaching out of doors, at Bristol and at Kingswood; but, up to the present, he had avoided such an ecclesiastical irregularity in London. He writes:—

"June 14. I went with Mr. Whitefield to Blackheath, where were, I believe, twelve or fourteen thousand people. He a little surprised me,[245] by desiring me to preach in his stead; which I did (though nature recoiled) on my favourite subject, 'Jesus Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.' I was greatly moved with compassion for the rich that were there, to whom I made a particular application. Some of them seemed to attend, while others drove away their coaches from so uncouth a preacher."

Whitefield was delighted that Wesley had dared to copy his example, not only in Bristol, but in London. "I went to bed," says he, "rejoicing that a fresh inroad was made into Satan's territories, by Mr. Wesley's following me in field-preaching as well in London as in Bristol. The Lord give him ten thousand times more success than He has given me!"

The step was taken. Three days afterwards, Wesley began his wondrous outdoor ministry in Moorfields and at Kennington Common; and, a week after that, urged by Whitefield, Charles Wesley "broke down the bridge, became desperate," went forth in the name of Jesus Christ, found near ten thousand helpless sinners waiting for the word, in Moorfields, and preached to them from Matt. xi. 28. At night, on Kennington Common, he "cried to multitudes upon multitudes, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.'" "The Lord," says high-church Charles, "was my strength, and my mouth, and my wisdom."

Thus did the three great Methodists become outdoor preachers. Whitefield was not with his friends on either of the Sundays when they commenced to preach in Moorfields and at Kennington. On the first Sunday, June 17, he had a glorious day among his friends in Kent. He began by preaching in Bexley Church. Then he assisted in administering the Lord's supper. Next, he baptized an adult, twenty-eight years of age. Then he dined with the Delamottes at Blendon, "and took sweet counsel with many Christian friends." After this, he "preached to above twenty thousand people at Blackheath;" and, Sunday though it was, finished up by again having supper, and holding a meeting at the Green Man public-house. He writes: "There were nearly three hundred in the room. I continued in exhortation and prayer till eleven o'clock, and then retired to bed, much pleased to think that religion, which had long[246] been skulking in corners, and was almost laughed out of the world, should now begin to appear abroad, and openly shew herself at noonday."

Thus was Whitefield occupied on the day when Wesley, for the first time, preached in Moorfields and at Kennington Common. And what about the ensuing Sunday, June 24, when Charles Wesley dared to copy John's example? Whitefield shall tell his own story. He writes:—

"Sunday, June 24. Read prayers, and assisted in administering the sacrament at Bexley Church. Many came from far, and expected to hear me preach; but the diocesan had been pleased to insist on the vicar's denying me the pulpit. Whether for just cause, God shall judge at the last day. If we have done anything worthy of the censures of the Church, why do not the Right Reverend the Bishops call us to a public account? If not, why do they not confess and own us? They say it is not regular, our going out into the highways and hedges, and compelling poor sinners to come in. We ought not so to beseech them to be reconciled to God. They desire to know by what authority we preach, and ask, What sign shewest thou that thou doest these things? Alas! what further sign would they require? We went not into the fields till we were excluded the churches. And has not God set His seal to our ministry in an extraordinary manner? Have not many that were spiritually blind received their sight? Have not the deaf heard? the lepers been cleansed? the dead been raised? That these notable miracles have been wrought, not in our own names, or by our own powers, but in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ, cannot be denied—and yet they require a sign! But verily there shall no other sign be given to this evil and adulterous generation!

"Preached in the afternoon to about three hundred people, in Justice Delamotte's yard; and, in the evening, on Blackheath, to upwards of twenty thousand, on these words, 'And they cast him out.' God grant we may learn, when we are reviled, not to revile again! When we suffer, may we threaten not, but commit our souls into the hands of Him that judgeth righteously! Lord, endue us with the spirit of Thy first martyr, St. Stephen, that we may pray most earnestly for our very murderers!"

The sermon just mentioned was probably the same as one which was soon after published, with the following title:—"The Spirit, Doctrines, and Lives of our Modern Clergy, not conformable to the Spirit of Christ. A Sermon preached at Islington and Bexley. By George Whitefield, A.B., of Pembroke College, Oxford. London: printed for C. Whitefield, in the year 1739." (12mo. 33 pp.) The text was, Luke iv. 29, "And they thrust him out of the city."


Rightly to understand Whitefield's position, a few extracts from this notable sermon are necessary.

"My brethren, if we will live godly, we must suffer persecution. We must no more expect to go to heaven without being persecuted, than to be happy without being holy. If you lead godly lives, all the sons of Belial, all the scribes and Pharisees, will hate you, and have you in reproach. They will point at you, and cry, 'See, yonder comes another troop of his followers! There are more of his gang!' You are counted as a parcel of ignorant people, poor rabble, who are deceived by a vain young upstart babbler, by a madman, one who is running into enthusiastic notions, and endeavours to lead all his followers into his mad way of thinking. The Pharisees may wonder what I mean by talking of persecution in a Christian country; but, if they had their will, they would as willingly put our feet in the stocks, shut us up in prison, and take away our lives, as they have thrust us out of their synagogues. But let not that discourage you from hearing the word of God; for Jesus Christ can meet us as well in a field, as between church walls."

"If you were of the world—if you would conform to the ways, manners, and customs of the world—if you would go to a play, or ball, or masquerade, the world would then love you, because you would be its own. But, because you despise their polite entertainments, and go to hear a sermon in the field, and will not run into the same excess of riot as others, they esteem you as methodically mad, and fit only for Bedlam. If you would frequent horse-racing, assemblies, and cock-fighting, then you would be caressed and admired by our gay gentlemen; but your despising these innocent diversions, (as the world calls them,) makes them esteem you as a parcel of rabble, of no taste, who are going to destroy yourselves by being over-righteous. If you would join them in singing the song of the drunkard, they would think you a good companion; but because you are for singing hymns, and praising the Lord Jesus Christ, they think you enthusiasts. Indeed, our polite gentry would like religion very well, if it did but countenance an assembly, or allow them to read novels, plays, and romances; if they might go a-visiting on Sundays, or to a play or ball whenever they pleased. In short, they would like to live a fashionable, polite life, to take their full swing of pleasures, and go to heaven when they die. But, if they were to be admitted to heaven without a purification of heart and life, they would be unhappy there. It would be a hell to them. Angels and all good men would be esteemed enthusiasts and madmen. Heaven might be agreeable, if there were the same polite entertainments there, as they seem so much pleased with here; but there is never a horse-course or cock-pit all over heaven."

The same sermon contains a violent philippic against the clergy of the Established Church. Whitefield accuses them of thrusting him out of their churches, and of depriving him "of the rights and privileges which" he "ought to enjoy." This was petulance. He had no right to preach in other[248] men's churches. The clergy might be discourteous in closing their churches against a young man recently appointed to the living of Savannah in Georgia; but it is difficult to conceive how such an act deprived him of his "rights and privileges." No doubt, many of the clergy were unconverted; their lives worldly; and their sermons short, jejune, and often heterodox; but Whitefield's preaching at and against them was not the best way to make them better. He proceeds:—

"Is it becoming a minister of the Church of England to frequent those places of polite entertainment, which are condemned by all serious and good men? Is it not inconsistent with all goodness for ministers to frequent play-houses, balls, masquerades? Would it not better become them to visit the poor of their flock, to pray with them, and to examine how it stands with God and their souls? Would it not be more agreeable to the temper of the blessed Jesus, to be going about doing good, than going about setting evil examples? How frequent is it for the poor and illiterate people to be drawn away more by example than by precept? How frequent is it for them to say, 'Sure there can be no crime in going to a play, or to an ale-house,—no crime in gaming and drinking, when a minister of our own Church does this.' This is the common talk of poor, ignorant people, who are too willing to follow the examples of their teachers. The examples of the generality of the clergy occasion many persons, committed to their charge, to run to the devil's entertainments. Good God! are these the men who are charging others with making too great a noise about religion?"

Enough! It is a curious fact that the sermon, from which these extracts are taken, is not included in Whitefield's collected works. Perhaps it was wisely omitted. It would have done no honour to its author, and been no benefit to its reader. Still it was preached, printed, published, sold, and read in 1739, and was one of the things which contributed to bring upon Whitefield and the Methodists the rage of both the pulpit and the press of that period.

It has been already stated, that, on the same day that this sermon was delivered on Blackheath, Whitefield also preached "to about three hundred people in Justice Delamotte's yard." His text in the "yard" was Hebrews iv. 9. The sermon, or rather incoherent address, founded upon this scripture, was likewise published, with the following title: "An Exhortation to the People of God not to be discouraged in their way, by the Scoffs and Contempt of Wicked Men. A Sermon preached in Mr. Delamotte's Yard, at Blendon Hall,[249] near Bexley. By George Whitefield, A.B., of Pembroke College, Oxford. London: printed for C. Whitefield, in the year 1739." (12mo. 12 pp.) The general tone of the "Exhortation" is the same as that of the sermon on Blackheath. It was an unwise act to commit such productions to the press; but, being published, they must be noticed. Under the shadow of the magistrate's mansion, the excited young orator exclaimed:—

"Here we are scoffed and derided; but be not discouraged. Though we are here the scorn and offscouring of all things, we are as a gazing-stock to men and angels. They put us out of their synagogues, and look upon us as persons unfit for their company; but in that rest, which is prepared for you, we shall be gazed at for our glory, and they be shut out of the church of saints, and separated from us, whether they will or no, unless the Lord Jesus Christ, by His free, rich, and sovereign grace, brings them unto Himself. The letter-learned scribes and Pharisees of the day look on us as madmen and enthusiasts. They think it strange that we run not with them into all excess of riot, and speak evil of us because we will not go to the devil's diversions with them. We cannot go along the street, but every one is pointing out his finger with scorn, and crying, 'Here comes another of his followers.' 'What! are you, too, become one of his disciples?' Let none of these things move you. Though you are thus treated here, you will have no discouraging company in heaven. You will have no scoffer there. You will not be counted enthusiasts, madmen, and rabble there. Undergo a few reproaches here patiently. Do not revile them again. Let them say what they please of me; the reproaches, and scorn, and contempt of this world will no ways hurt me, but will turn upon their own heads. Therefore, I beseech you, do not answer them again; but leave it to the Lord, who knows what is best for you and me."

During his visit to the Delamotte family at Blendon Hall, Whitefield had a run into Herts and Essex. His five days' evangelistic tour was full of incidents. He went to Hertford at the earnest request of many of the people there. The "Baptist teacher" of the town sent his horse to London to bring him. He was visited by Quakers. He "breakfasted, dined, prayed, and sung hymns with Mr. S——, a Dissenting minister." He preached thrice, his respective congregations numbering from three to five thousand people each.

By invitation, also, he "hasted to Broad-Oaks, about twenty miles from Hertford." Here a family resided divided against itself. Some of the family were converted, and were[250] "most violently opposed and persecuted," by others who were not. The clergyman had been employed by the opponents to cure the religionists of their madness, and, among other things, he had preached against them. Whitefield went to strengthen and to comfort the new converts; and says, "I spent the most heavenly night I have known for a long while. We found the sweets of opposition, and rejoiced greatly in the prospect of suffering for Christ's sake. I believe the saints of old had never so much comfort as when they were obliged to shut the doors for fear of the Jews, and to hide themselves in dens and caves of the earth."

While at Broad-Oaks, Whitefield was visited by William Delamotte, son of the magistrate residing at Blendon Hall. William had become a Moravian, and was now a student in Cambridge University. The following account of him and of his family will be read with interest. Whitefield writes:—

"To increase our satisfaction," at Broad-Oaks, "Mr. Delamotte, a convert of Mr. Ingham's, came from Cambridge to meet us. He is scandalously opposed at that University. The students make him a proverb of reproach, and abuse him in the rudest manner. He has been forbid coming into one college; and two or three who associate with him have been threatened by their tutors for keeping him company. And here I cannot but remark what wonderful mercies God has shewn this Mr. Delamotte's family. About three or four years ago, God was pleased to touch the heart of his brother Charles, who, hearing that Mr. Wesley was going to Georgia, (though his father would have settled him in a very handsome way,) offered to go abroad with him as a servant. His parents' consent was asked; but they, and almost all their relations, opposed it strenuously. However, the young man being resolute, and convinced that God called him, they at length somewhat consented. He went abroad, lived with Mr. Wesley, served under him as a son in the gospel, did much good, and endured great hardships for the sake of Jesus Christ. Behold how God rewarded him for leaving all. While he was absent, God was pleased to make use of the ministry of Mr. Ingham and Mr. Charles Wesley in converting his mother, two sisters, and this young gentleman at Cambridge; who, I pray God, may stand as a barrier against the profaneness, debauchery, lukewarmness, and deism of that seat of learning, and prove both a Barnabas and Boanerges in the Church of England."

Whitefield's prayerful anticipations respecting William Delamotte were scarcely realized. Within four years after this, the young man died.[224]


Whitefield spent two happy nights at Broad-Oaks; and during the day-time preached twice at Saffron-Walden, once at Thaxted, and once at Bishop-Stortford. He returned to the Delamotte's at Blendon in sufficient time to preach his famous sermon against the clergy on June 24th.

In most, probably in all, of these journeys and open-air services, Mr. William Seward was Whitefield's companion. The following extract from a long letter written to the Rev. Thomas Seward, at Genoa, will be welcome:—

"Blendon, in Kent, June 16, 1739.

"Reverend and dear Brother,—By God's providence, we are not yet embarked for Georgia, so I have had the pleasure of receiving your kind and well-meant answer. I knew my letter would surprise you. I should have been surprised myself, had I been in your circumstances. Before long, I hope we shall all be of one mind. My brother Benjamin once opposed, as you do; but, blessed be God, he is now become a fool for Christ's sake.

"On my own behalf, I cannot sufficiently praise God for bringing me out of that darkness in which you left me, into His marvellous light. I know you imagined me to be a true Christian before you embarked, and so I thought myself. But I was almost a stranger to the doctrines of the Spirit of God, of regeneration, and of justification by faith only; nor do I remember to have heard any of them preached or explained by our clergy. I prayed, went to church, and gave alms; but why and wherefore I knew not. I knew little or nothing of a vital faith in Jesus Christ. I obeyed God and Christ in part, but not universally. I hated sin, but had not dominion over it. You say, my dear brother, that 'if a man who believes in Christ, and obeys God, is not a Christian, what is Christianity?' But the question is, what this belief may be? Not a bare historical assent to the truths and facts recorded in the Scripture, (for this is only the faith of devils,) but a vital faith wrought in the heart by the blessed Spirit of God, and productive of good works. This is a faith I never fully felt before Mr. Charles Wesley expounded the seventh of Romans, and I cannot but always honour him as an instrument in God's hand of shewing me the true way of salvation by Jesus Christ. You may call this Quakerism, or what you please; but I know it is the faith which Christ and His apostles preached.

"You pray, my dear brother, that we may return to the Church of England. We are not dissenting from it; neither are the Methodists, as the world, in derision, calls them. They constantly preach up the articles, collects, homilies, and liturgies of our own Church. But here lies the truth of the matter. The doctrines of the Reformation have lain a long while dormant. The generality of our English clergy have sadly fallen from them. God has raised up some to preach the truth as it is in Jesus, and as held by our Church. He has set His seal to their ministry. They[252] have made abundantly more converts than those zealous atheists you mentioned. The pleasure, preferment-loving clergy envy their success, and, therefore, are confederate against them. Perhaps you may think this uncharitable; but I think I speak the truth in Christ.

"I am far from being bigotted to the Methodists, or to Mr. Whitefield in particular, out of a blind zeal. I will follow him no farther than he follows Christ. I believe him to be a sincere good minister of Jesus Christ. You do not seem to think so. Who wants charity, you or I? 'By their fruits ye shall know them,' says our Lord. Do the other clergy bring forth such fruit? You seem to reflect on me for going round the kingdom with such a knight-errant as Whitefield. I wish you had used milder terms. But, my dear brother, may I not justly turn the tables upon yourself, and reflect on you for leaving your flock, and travelling merely for profit, or little else? Perhaps you may answer, you have committed your flock to the care of a curate. But may I not reply to you, as St. Bernard did once on a like occasion, 'Will your curate be damned for you?' Do not charge others with being righteous over-much, before you can prove you are righteous enough yourself. Return home, my dear brother; watch diligently that flock committed to your care; catechize and visit from house to house; live as Christ lived; teach as He taught; leave off hunting after preferment, and cease to please the polite world; and then I will think you a proper person to judge whether the Methodists are enthusiasts or not.

"Excuse me, my dear brother, this seeming severity. Love for God, love for you, constrains me to use this freedom. Yet a little while, and I embark for Georgia. I have settled my worldly affairs, and have taken care of my dear child. God has begun a good work in our house. I believe He will carry it on. He has given me my brother Benjamin, and will He not give me my brother Thomas also? I am, your affectionate, though weak and unworthy brother in Christ,

"William Seward."

It has been already stated that, on the 14th of June, Wesley was with Whitefield on Blackheath, and preached to Whitefield's congregation. Four days afterwards, Wesley returned to Bristol, and, a week later, Whitefield addressed to him the following important letter. The two friends on some points differed in their opinions. Whitefield disapproved of the "convulsions" of Wesley's converts in Bristol. And again, though no Calvinism can be found in any of the sermons which Whitefield as yet had published, it is evident, from the subjoined epistle, that already he was inclined to the predestinarian creed.

"London, June 25, 1739.

"Honoured Sir,—I cannot think it right in you to give so much encouragement to those convulsions which people have been thrown into[253] under your ministry. Were I to do so, how many would cry out every night! I think it is tempting God to require such signs. That there is something of God in it, I doubt not. But the devil, I believe, does interpose. I think it will encourage the French Prophets,[225] take people from the written word, and make them depend on visions, convulsions, etc., more than on the promises and precepts of the gospel.

"Honoured sir, how could you tell that some who came to you 'were in a good measure sanctified?' What fruits could be produced in one night's time? 'By their fruits,' says our Lord, 'shall ye know them.'

"I hear, honoured sir, that you are about to print a sermon against predestination.[226] It shocks me to think of it. What will be the consequences but controversy? If people ask my opinion, what shall I do? I have a critical part to act. God enable me to behave aright! Silence on both sides will be best. It is noised abroad already that there is a division between you and me, and my heart within me is grieved. Providence to-morrow calls me to Gloucester. If you will be pleased to come next week to London, I think, God willing, to stay a few days at Bristol. Your brother Charles goes to Oxon. I believe we shall be excommunicated soon. May the Lord enable us to stand fast in the faith, and stir up your heart to watch over the soul of, honoured sir, your dutiful son and servant,

"George Whitefield."[227]

Wesley did not come to London; but, as will soon be seen, Whitefield went to Bristol. Meanwhile, the young Georgian clergyman was one of the most notorious men in England. Even the Gentleman's Magazine, in its number for the month of June, inserted a laudatory poem "on Mr. Whitefield's preaching," in which Whitefield's sermons are contrasted with the sermons of the Arians, and wonder is expressed that the people should object to Whitefield's doctrines. With indignant feeling the versifier writes:—

"No words for such a preacher are too bad;
Enthusiast, babbler, and a fool run mad!"

The Weekly Miscellany hardly allowed a week to pass without fulminating its wrath against the open-air preacher. In the month of May, the Rev. Josiah Tucker,[228] a young man[254] of eight-and-twenty, curate of All Saints', Bristol, but afterwards a doctor of divinity, and Dean of Gloucester, proposed three "queries" to Whitefield. In the month of June, an anonymous friend deigned to answer them. This increased the young curate's angry indignation, and he immediately replied, accusing Whitefield of propagating "blasphemous and enthusiastic notions which struck at the root of all religion, and made it the jest of those who sat in the seat of the scornful." He also related, rightly or wrongly, that "Whitefield, by his friends, prevented the printing of his" (Tucker's) "queries in the Bristol Journal;" and, instead of replying to them, wrote a letter telling the querist "very lordly and laconically, 'My motto is, Answer him not a word.'" Mr. Tucker continues, "He has, likewise, pronounced sentence against me, 'That while I remain in this way of thinking, he absolutely despairs of meeting me in heaven;' and says he can produce two cobblers in Bristol who know more of true Christianity than all the clergy in the city put together."

Whitefield had dared to preach at Charlton, in close proximity to Greenwich, and this aroused Dr. Skerret, who published a corrective sermon, for the safety of his flock, with the following title: "The Nature and Proper Evidence of Regeneration; or, the New and Second Birth: considered in a Sermon preached in the Parish Churches of East Greenwich, in the County of Kent, upon Whitsunday, and St. Peter the Poor, London, on Trinity-Sunday, 1739. By Ralph Skerret, D.D., Chaplain to the Right Honourable Henry Earl of Grantham. London, 1739." (8vo, 36 pp.) In his preface, Dr. Skerret accuses Whitefield and his friends as "restless deceivers of the people;" as "subtle and designing men;" and says "they break in upon all relative duties, and the benefits of social life, by daily assembling themselves in troops, upon hills and the neighbouring commons, under a vain pretence of serving God more acceptably. But all such service is contrary to common decency, unanimity, and good order, and is a contempt of the established places of worship in their own parishes."

The celebrated Dr. Byrom met Whitefield in London, at the end of June; and, in a letter to his wife, observed:—


"While we were at Cousin W. Chad's last night, the so much talked of Mr. Whitefield came in. He stayed about a quarter of an hour and then took coach to Gloucestershire. I am surprised at the progress which he has made, to which the weakness of his printing adversaries does not a little contribute. He had lords, dukes, etc., to hear him at Blackheath, who gave guineas and half-guineas for his Orphan House. He does surprising things, and has a great number of followers, both curious and real. This field-preaching, they say, is got into France, as well as Germany, England, Scotland, Wales, etc. People are more and more alarmed at the wonder of it, but none offer to stop it, that I hear of."[229]

Scraps like these are useful as helping to exhibit young Whitefield's notoriety. He must now be tracked to the west of England.

One of the kindest and most faithful friends of Whitefield and the Wesleys was Mr. Ebenezer Blackwell, a banker in Lombard Street, London. Mr. Blackwell had already joined the Methodists; and Whitefield, on arriving at Cirencester, wrote to him the following characteristic letter, now for the first time published:—

"Cirencester, June 27, 1739.

"Dear Mr. Blackwell,—Last night, God brought us hither in safety. I have now a few moments' leisure. How can I employ them better than in writing you? I almost envy you, because, when I left you, you were sick. Glorious lessons, dear sir, may you learn from such a visitation. It may remind you of the much greater sickness and disorder of your soul, and give you an excellent opportunity of retiring in order to prepare yourself for the buffetings of a ridiculing world. Ere I return, I expect to hear you are stigmatized, not only in Lombard Street, but, in all the places round about. For Christ's servants have always been the world's fools. And, if you will live godly in Christ Jesus, you, even you, must suffer persecution. But you know in whom you have believed. He is able and willing to deliver you. Go on, therefore, my dear friend, in the strength of Christ. Make mention of His righteousness only. Give Him your heart—your whole heart. Cleave to Him by faith in His blood; and then you may bid men and devils defiance. Oh! Mr. Blackwell, I would not have you a Demas for the world. But away with all such thoughts. I cannot bear them. Dearest Mr. Blackwell, I am ever yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

"George Whitefield.

"P.S.—My most hearty love to Brother Sparks, Horn, etc."

This, probably, was the first Methodist letter received by the Lombard-street banker.


Whitefield's proceedings, during the next few days, are sketched in the following extracts from his Journal:—

"Wednesday, June 27. I waited on the minister of Cirencester, and asked him for the use of his pulpit; but he refused it, because I had not my letters of orders. Went to public worship at eleven; and preached to about three thousand people, in a field near the town, at twelve. Was afterwards visited by several gracious souls of the Baptist congregation, who brought me five guineas for the Orphan House. About seven in the evening, I reached Gloucester, and visited the Society, and expounded for an hour to more people than the room would contain.

"Thursday, June 28. Preached in the morning to about a thousand people in my brother's field. Went to public prayers at the cathedral. Waited upon the bishop, who received me very civilly. Visited some sick persons in the afternoon. Preached at night to upwards of three thousand.

"Friday, June 29. Preached in my brother's field in the morning to a large and very affected congregation. Went to the cathedral service. Visited some religious friends; and preached to above three thousand souls in the street at Painswick.[230] All was hushed and silent. The Divine Presence was amongst us.

"Saturday, June 30. Preached in the morning, in the bowling-green at Stroud, to near two thousand people; and in the evening, at Gloucester, to a larger and more affected congregation than ever.

Thus ended another eventful month. On Sunday, July 1, Whitefield preached not fewer than four times. First, in his brother's field at Gloucester, at seven o'clock in the morning; and next at Randwick, a village about seven miles from Gloucester, where he was allowed to preach, both forenoon and afternoon, in the parish church. "The church," says he, "was quite full, and about two thousand were in the churchyard, who, by taking down the window behind the pulpit, had the conveniency of hearing. Many wept sorely." At the conclusion of the afternoon service, he hastened to Hampton Common, where, he writes, "To my great surprise, I found no fewer than twenty thousand, on horseback and foot, ready to hear me. I spoke with greater freedom than[257] I had done all the day before. About twelve at night, I reached Gloucester, much fresher than when I left it in the morning."

Notwithstanding his hard day's work, Whitefield preached next morning, in his "brother's field, to a larger audience than ever." He then went off to Tewkesbury. As soon as he arrived, four constables, sent by the bailiff of the town, came either to arrest or frighten him. One of Whitefield's friends, a lawyer, requested the constables to shew their warrant. The officious quaternion had no warrant to exhibit, and hence the lawyer "sent them about their business;" and Whitefield, notwithstanding their threats, preached in a field to a congregation of two or three thousand people. Next morning, the preacher waited upon the bailiff, and asked him why he had sent the constables, with their staves, to arrest him. The bailiff threw the responsibility of his foolish act upon the town council; but added, that "a certain judge" had threatened to apprehend Whitefield "as a vagrant," if he dared to preach near the place where he resided. "The judge," said Whitefield, "is welcome to do as he pleases; but no magistrate, I conceive, has power to stop my preaching, even in the streets." "No, sir," replied the bailiff; "and if you preach here to-morrow, you shall have the constables to attend you." "After this," says Whitefield, "I took my leave, telling him to be careful to appoint constables to attend at the next horse-races, balls, and assemblies."

From Tewkesbury, Whitefield proceeded to Evesham. Here again the magistrates threatened to apprehend him if he "preached within their liberties." Accordingly, to prevent this, he preached thrice from a wall near Benjamin Seward's house, his congregations consisting of thousands.

On Wednesday, July 4, after breakfasting with a Quaker, Whitefield, accompanied by about thirty of his friends, left Evesham for Pershore, whither he had been invited by the incumbent, the Rev. Mr. Parks. Having read prayers and preached in Mr. Parks's church, Whitefield writes: "About five in the evening, I took an affectionate leave of Evesham friends, and, in company with about one hundred and twenty on horseback, went to Tewkesbury, and never saw a town so[258] much alarmed. The streets were crowded with people from all parts. I rode immediately through the town, and preached to about six thousand hearers in a field, but saw no constables either to molest or attend on me. Immediately after sermon, I took horse, and reached Gloucester near midnight."

This was a marvellous scene, in a quiet country town of between three and four thousand inhabitants. Think of a cavalcade, numbering more than a hundred persons, with a young clergyman at their head, riding, on a fine evening in summer, from ten to twelve miles—from Evesham to Tewkesbury—and all the way making the welkin ring with the singing of "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs." No wonder that Tewkesbury was, if not "alarmed," yet excited; and no wonder that the Christian equestrians drew after them a congregation of six thousand people.

Whitefield had preached thrice, and had ridden between thirty and forty miles, and had not reached Gloucester till nearly midnight; but, notwithstanding this, he preached again at Gloucester next morning, and then set out to join his friend Wesley at Bristol. Arriving in the evening at Chafford Common, about eight miles from Gloucester, he found a congregation of more than ten thousand people awaiting him, and preached to them about two hours, "till it was nearly dark."

On the following morning, July 6, he resumed his journey; and, when approaching Bristol, was met by numbers of his friends. As he entered, the bells of the city were set a-ringing. "I was received," says he, "as an angel of God; and, at seven in the evening, preached at Baptist Mills to about six or seven thousand people."

Three months had elapsed since he left Bristol and Kingswood to the care of Wesley; and in the interval strange scenes had been witnessed. Wesley, the high-churchman, had followed Whitefield's example, by regularly preaching in the open-air. Under his ministry, large numbers had been convinced of sin. Many of them had been thrown into violent convulsions, and not a few had found peace with God. Wesley had been permitted to preach in Newgate, from which Whitefield had virtually been expelled. He had commenced building, in the Horse Fair, Bristol, the first[259] Methodist meeting house. He had conveyed the property to eleven trustees; but, at Whitefield's remonstrance, and by mutual consent, the trust deed had been destroyed, and the management of the building was now entirely in Wesley's own hands. He had also begun to build the school at Kingswood, for which, on March 29, Whitefield had made the first collection; and the site of which, on April 2, Whitefield had consecrated, by kneeling upon a loose stone, and praying "that the gates of hell might not prevail against the colliers' design."

Of course, Wesley met Whitefield, and went with him to Baptist Mills, where, says the former, "he preached concerning 'the Holy Ghost, which all who believe are to receive;' not without a just, though severe, censure of those who preach as if there were no Holy Ghost." Wesley continues:—

"Saturday, July 7. I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Whitefield of those outward signs which had so often accompanied the inward work of God. I found his objections were chiefly grounded on gross misrepresentations of matter of fact. But the next day, he had an opportunity of informing himself better; for no sooner had he begun, in the application of his sermon, to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. A third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him."

So much as it respects Wesley. What did Whitefield say? He writes:—

"Saturday, July 7. Settled some affairs concerning our brethren, and had a useful conversation about many things with my honoured friend Mr. John Wesley. Dined at my sister's. Preached at Baptist Mills, to near the same number of people as last night, and found that Bristol had great reason to bless God for the ministry of Mr. John Wesley. The congregations I observed to be much more serious and affected than when I left them; and their loud and repeated Amens, which they put up to every petition, as well as the exemplariness of their conversation in common life, plainly shew that they have not received the grace of God in vain. That good, great good, is done is evident. Either this is done by an evil or good spirit. If you say by an evil spirit, I answer in our Lord's own words, 'If Satan be divided against Satan, how can his kingdom stand?' If by a good Spirit, why do not the clergy and the rest of the Pharisees[260] believe our report? It is little less than blasphemy against the Holy Ghost to impute the great work, that has been in so short a time wrought in this kingdom, to delusion and the power of the devil."

On Sunday, July 8, Whitefield preached thrice—first, at the Bowling Green, Bristol, "to about ten thousand people;" next, at Hannam Mount, to nearly the same number; and, in the evening, at Rose Green, to about twenty thousand.

On Tuesday, July 10, he writes:—

"Preached yesterday evening, at the Brick-yard, to about eight thousand people. Dined to-day with my honoured fellow-labourer, Mr. Wesley, and many other friends, at Two-mile Hill, in Kingswood, and preached afterwards to several thousand people and colliers, in the school-house, which has been carried on so successfully, that the roof is ready to be put up. The design, I think, is good. Old as well as young are to be instructed. A great and visible alteration is made in the behaviour of the colliers. Instead of cursing and swearing, they are heard to sing hymns about the woods; and the rising generation, I hope, will be a generation of Christians. They seem much affected by the word, and are observed to attend the churches and societies, when Mr. Wesley is absent from them. Went immediately after sermon was ended, with Mr. Wesley and several other friends, to Bath, and preached to about three thousand people. It rained a little all the while, but the people were patient and attentive. Heard to-day, also, that the town clerk of Bristol did my brother Wesley and me the honour to desire the grand jury, at their quarter-sessions, to present our meetings, and to have the Riot Act read, but they did not regard him. Nay, one, who was called to serve on the petty jury, offered to submit to any fine rather than do anything against us; who, he said, were true servants of Jesus Christ.

"Wednesday, July 11. Preached" (at Bath) "in the morning, to a larger audience than last night. Hastened to Bristol, and preached, in the evening, at Baptist Mills. After this, my brother Wesley and I went to the Women and Men's Societies, settled some affairs, and united the two leading Societies together.

"Thursday, July 12. Was busy most of the day in preparing a sermon for the press, on 'The Indwelling of the Spirit,' which I would recommend to all. Preached, in the evening, to eight or nine thousand people, in the Bowling Green.

"Friday, July 13. Preached my farewell sermon, at seven in the morning, to a weeping audience. My heart was full, and I continued near two hours in prayer and preaching. The poor people shed many tears, and sent up thousands of prayers on my behalf. Their mites they most cheerfully contributed to the school-house at Kingswood. Retired after sermon to vent my heart, which was ready to burst with a sense of God's special, distinguishing, repeated mercies."

Thus, for the present, ended Whitefield's ministry in[261] Bristol, for he was not there again until nearly two years afterwards. Wesley writes:—

"July 13. In the afternoon, I left Bristol with Mr. Whitefield, in the midst of heavy rain. But the clouds soon dispersed, so that we had a fair, calm evening, and a serious congregation at Thornbury."

Before following the two friends, an important incident must be mentioned. The reader has already learned, that, from the first, good Bishop Benson had been Whitefield's friend; but, on the day Whitefield left Gloucester for Bristol, he received a letter from the bishop, "in which," says he, "his lordship affectionately admonished me, and expressed the opinion that I ought to preach the Gospel only in the congregation to which I was lawfully appointed."

To this affectionate admonition, Whitefield returned the following answer:—

"Bristol, July 9, 1739.

"My Lord,—I thank your lordship for your lordship's kind letter. My frequent removes from place to place prevented my answering it sooner.

"I am greatly obliged to your lordship, in that you are pleased to watch over my soul, and to caution me against acting contrary to the commission given me at ordination. But, if the commission we then receive obliges us to preach nowhere but in that parish which is committed to our care, then all persons act contrary to their commission when they preach occasionally in any strange place; and, consequently, your lordship equally offends when you preach out of your own diocese.

"As for inveighing against the clergy, without a cause, I deny the charge. What I say, I am ready to make good whenever your lordship pleases. Let those, who bring reports to your lordship about my preaching, be brought face to face, and I am ready to give them an answer. St. Paul exhorts Timothy not to receive an accusation against an elder under two or three witnesses. And even Nicodemus could say, the law suffered no man to be condemned unheard. I shall only add, that I hope your lordship will inspect the lives of your other clergy, and censure them for being over-remiss, as much as you censure me for being over-righteous. It is their falling from their Articles, and not preaching the truth as it is in Jesus, that has excited the present zeal of those, whom they, in derision, call the Methodist preachers.

"Dr. Stebbing's sermon[231] (for which I thank your lordship) confirms me more and more in my opinion, that I ought to be instant in season[262] and out of season; for, to me, he seems to know no more of the true nature of regeneration than Nicodemus did when he came to Jesus by night. Your lordship may observe that he does not speak a word of original sin, or the dreadful consequences of our fall in Adam, upon which the doctrine of the new birth is entirely founded. No; like other polite preachers, he seems to think that St. Paul's description of the wickedness of the heathen is only to be referred to those of past ages: whereas I affirm, we are all included as much under the guilt and consequences of sin as they were.

"Again, my lord, the doctor entirely mistakes us when we talk of the sensible operations of the Holy Ghost. I know not that we use the word sensible; but, if we do, we do not mean that God's Spirit manifests itself to our senses, but that it may be perceived by the soul, as really as any sensible impression made upon the body. Although the operations of the Spirit of God can no more be accounted for than how the wind cometh and goeth, yet may they be as easily felt by the soul as the wind may be felt by the body. My lord, indeed, we speak what we know.

"But, says the doctor, 'These men have no proof to offer for their inward manifestations.' What proof, my lord, does the doctor require? Would he have us raise dead bodies? Have we not done greater things than these? I speak with all humility. Has not God, by our ministry, raised many dead souls to a spiritual life? Verily, if men will not believe the evidence God has given that He sent us, neither would they believe though one rose from the dead.

"Besides, my lord, the doctor charges us with things we are entire strangers to,—such as denying men the use of God's creatures; and encouraging abstinence and prayer to the neglect of the duties of our station. Lord, lay not this sin to his charge!

"But, the doctor, and the rest of my reverend brethren, are welcome to judge me as they please. Yet a little while, and we shall all appear before the great Shepherd of our souls. There, there, my lord, shall it be determined who are His true ministers, and who are only wolves in sheep's clothing. Our Lord, I believe, will not be ashamed to confess us publicly in that day. I pray God, we all may approve ourselves such faithful ministers of the New Testament, that we may be able to lift up our heads with boldness!

"As for declining the work in which I am engaged, my blood runs chill at the very thought of it. I am as much convinced it is my duty to act as I do, as I am that the sun shines at noonday. I can foresee the consequences very well. They have already, in one sense, thrust us out of the synagogues. By-and-by, they will think it is doing God service to kill us. But, my lord, if you and the rest of the bishops cast us out, our great and common Master will take us up. However you may censure us as evil-doers and disturbers of the peace, yet, if we suffer for our present way of acting, your lordship, at the great day, will find that we suffer only for righteousness' sake. In patience, therefore, do I possess my soul. I will willingly tarry the Lord's leisure. In the meanwhile, I[263] shall continually bear your lordship's favours upon my heart, and endeavour to behave, so as to subscribe myself,

"My lord, your lordship's obedient son and obliged servant,

"George Whitefield."

This was a bold letter to the venerable prelate, who had always been Whitefield's friend, and who, only six months before, had admitted him to the orders of a priest. But to return, let us follow the young evangelist in his wanderings. He writes:—

"Saturday, July 14. Preached" (at Thornbury) "at eight this morning, to an attentive congregation. Breakfasted at a Quaker's, and reached Gloucester, with my honoured friend, Mr. John Wesley, and some others, in the afternoon. Went to the cathedral prayers, and afterwards preached to a congregation a third part larger than I have had in this place before.

Whitefield merely mentions the Quaker at Thornbury—Wesley gives a more detailed account, and takes the opportunity of lashing the pretended teachers of the people. He writes as follows:—

"July 14. We breakfasted" (at Thornbury) "with a Quaker, who had been brought up in the Church of England; but, being under strong convictions of inward sin, and applying to several persons for advice, they all judged him to be under a disorder of body, and gave advice accordingly. Some Quakers, with whom he met about the same time, told him it was the hand of God upon his soul; and advised him to seek another sort of relief than those miserable comforters had recommended. 'Woe unto you, ye blind leaders of the blind!' How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord? Ye, who tell the mourners in Zion, 'Much religion hath made you mad!' Ye, who send them, whom God hath wounded, to the devil for cure; to company, idle books, or diversions! Thus shall they perish in their iniquity; but their blood shall God require at your hands."

Next morning the two friends parted, not to meet again until the year 1741, when, unfortunately, there was a rupture between them, which, hereafter, will demand attention. Leaving Wesley to preach to assembled thousands in Gloucester, Whitefield set out for London. He writes:—

"Sunday, July 15. Left my honoured friend, Mr. Wesley, to preach to about seven thousand souls in Gloucester. Preached twice in Randwick Church, and assisted in administering the sacrament to two hundred and seventy communicants. In the evening, at Hampton Common, I was enabled to preach to about twenty thousand.


"July 16. Preached, at noon, at Tedbury, to about four thousand people. Many, of divers denominations, came to meet me, with whom I took sweet counsel. Visited, in the afternoon, Mr. O——, a Baptist teacher. At seven, in the evening, preached to about three thousand people at Malmesbury. Much opposition had been made, by the Pharisees, against my coming; and the minister, in particular, had written to the churchwarden to stop me.

"July 17. Preached to about two thousand, at eight in the morning; and reached Cirencester at six in the evening. Here also men breathed out threatenings against me. Numbers came from neighbouring towns. My congregation was as large again as when I preached here last.

"July 18. Preached at seven in the morning. I stood in the valley, and the people on an ascent, that formed a most beautiful amphitheatre. I reached Abingdon about seven in the evening, and preached to several thousands. Much opposition had been made against my coming. The landlord, whose house we offered to put up at, genteelly told us he had not room for us.

"July 19. At the request of several well-disposed people, preached again this morning, though not to so great a number as before. Reached Basingstoke about seven at night. Being languid and weary, I lay down soon after our coming to the inn; but was shortly told the landlord would not let us stay under his roof. Upon this, I immediately went to another inn. The people made a mock of both me and my friends, as we passed along, and fire-rockets were thrown around the door. About an hour after, I received the following letter, by the hands of the constable, from the mayor:—

"'Basingstoke, July 19, 1739.

"'Sir,—Being a civil magistrate in this town, I thought it my duty, for the preservation of the peace, to forbid you, or, at least, dissuade you, from preaching here. If you persist in it, in all probability it may occasion a disturbance, which, I think, it is your duty, as a clergyman, as well as mine, to prevent. If any mischief should ensue, (whatever pretence you may afterwards make in your own behalf,) I am satisfied it will fall on your own head, being timely cautioned by me, who am, sir, your most humble servant,

"'John Abbot.

"'P.S.—The Legislature has wisely made laws for the preservation of the peace; therefore, I hope no clergyman lives in defiance of them.'"

Thus wrote Mr. Abbot, mayor of Basingstoke—a butcher by business, but a stickler for peace. Whitefield immediately answered Mr. Abbot's letter, with a high-sounding courtesy, more due to Mr. Abbot's mayoralty than to his business:—

"Honoured Sir,—I thank you for your kind letter, and I humbly hope a sense of duty, and not a fear of man, caused you to write it.


"If so, give me leave to remind you, honoured sir, that you ought to be, not only a terror of evil-doers, but a praise to them that do well. I know of no law against such meetings as mine. If any such law exists, I believe you will think it your duty, honoured sir, to apprise me of it, that I may not offend against it. If no law can be produced, I think it my duty to inform you that you ought to protect an assembly of people meeting together purely to worship God.

"To-morrow, honoured sir, I hear there is to be an assembly of another nature. Be pleased to be as careful to have the public peace preserved at that; and to prevent profane cursing and swearing, and persons bruising each other's bodies by cudgelling and wrestling. If you do not this, I shall rise up against you at the great day, and be a swift witness against your partiality.

"I am, honoured sir, your very humble servant,
"George Whitefield."

Next morning, Whitefield waited upon the magisterial butcher, to enquire about the law against his preaching. The mayor was unable to answer the preacher's enquiry, but said, "Sir, you ought to preach in a church." "So I would," replied Whitefield, "if your minister would give me leave." "Sir," said Mr. Abbot, "I believe you have some sinister ends in view. Why do you go about making a disturbance?" "I make no disturbance," answered Whitefield. "It was hard I could not come into your town without being insulted. It was your business, sir, to wait, and, if there was any riot in my meetings, then, and not till then, to interpose." "Sir," continued the zealous mayor, "you wrote to me about the revel to-day." "Yes," rejoined Whitefield, "you ought to go, and read the riot act, and put a stop to it."

Here the mayor and the preacher parted; but the contention was not ended. On the same day, the angry official, with a fair amount of scholarship for a man who handled the cleaver, as well as mace, sent to Whitefield a polished epistle, as follows:—

"Basingstoke, July 20, 1739.

"Rev. Sir,—I received your extraordinary letter, and could expect no other from so uncommon a genius.

"I apprehend your meetings to be unlawful, having no toleration to protect you in it. My apprehension of religion always was, and I hope always will be, that God is to be worshipped in places consecrated and set apart for His service; and not in brothels, and places where all manner[266] of debauchery may have been committed; but how far this is consistent with your actions, I leave you to judge.

"As for the other assembly you are pleased to mention, 'tis contrary to my will, having never given my consent to it, nor approved of it, but discouraged it before your reverendship came to this town; and, if these cudgellers persist in it, I shall set them upon the same level with you, and think you all breakers of the public peace. You very well know there are penal laws against cursing and swearing, and I could wish there were the same against deceit and hypocrisy.

"Your appearing against me as a swift witness, at the day of judgment, I must own, is a most terrible thing, and may serve as a bugbear for children, or people of weak minds; but, believe me, reverend sir, those disguises will have but little weight amongst men of common understanding.

"John Abbot."

To this Whitefield returned the following reply:—

"Basingstoke, July 20, 1739.

"Honoured Sir—Does Mr. Mayor do well to be angry? Alas! what evil have I done? I honour you as a magistrate; but, as a minister, I am obliged to have no respect of persons. Your apprehending my meetings to be unlawful, does not make them so. There is no need of a toleration to protect me, when I do not act unconformable to any law, civil or ecclesiastical. Be pleased to prove that my meetings are schismatical, seditious, or riotous, and then I will submit.

"But you say they are upon unconsecrated ground. Honoured sir, give me leave to inform you, that God is not now confined to places. Where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name, there will Christ be in the midst of them. The Church, by our ministers in their prayer before their sermons, is defined to be, not the church walls, but a congregation of Christian people. Such is mine.

"As for judging me, to my own Master I stand or fall. At His dreadful tribunal I will meet you; and then you shall see what is in the heart of, honoured sir, your very humble servant,

"George Whitefield."

Notwithstanding the mayor's fulminated wrath, Whitefield went into a field, and began to preach. He suffered no interruption worth mentioning. Returning to the inn, he "prayed and sung psalms with a few disciples, and then took his leave." Passing along, however, he saw the "stage built for the cudgellers and wrestlers, and met divers coming to the revel." He was already a mile from Basingstoke; but, "seeing so many souls, for whom Christ died, ready to perish, and no minister or magistrate to interpose," he at[267] once returned, mounted the stage, and began to shew the wrestlers, and cudgellers, and their friends "the error of their ways." The boys huzzaed. One of the "cudgellers" struck him with a cudgel. The crowd thronged and pushed him. To obtain a hearing was impossible; and, hence, the intrepid evangelist again set out for London. Perhaps it was well he did; hence the following from a letter written to him by a Quaker:—

"Basingstoke, July 21, 1739.

"My dear Friend,—When I yesterday went up to thy inn, and found thee just gone, I was sorry that I missed an opportunity of taking my leave of thee, and of expressing the sense I had of the presence and power of God with thee, especially in the latter part of thy sermon, and in thy prayer after it. However, I am truly glad that thou wert preserved out of the hands of cruel men. Thou heardest of the threatenings of many; but the malice of some went further. There were ten or twelve men lying in wait to do thee a private mischief. I know this, by the testimony of one of these very men, who boasted to me, 'We would have given him a secret blow, and prevented his making disturbances.'

"O thy noble testimony against the profaneness and vanity of the age! It rejoiced me not a little. But when thou earnest to the necessity, the nature, and the rewards of the new birth, thou wert carried beyond thyself. The fountain of life was opened, and flowed around amongst the living. I, for one, am a monument of free grace and mercy. O God, how boundless is Thy love!

"My dear friend, may we finally be received up into the mansions of glory, there to live with all the righteous generations, and to sing with them, hallelujahs, glory, and praise, for ever and ever. May the Ancient of Days keep thee in His arms, direct thee by His Spirit, support, comfort, and watch over thee, is the fervent prayer of thine in great sincerity,

"J. Portsmouth."

Whitefield arrived in London on Saturday, July 21, and, in the evening of the same day, "preached to upwards of ten thousand at Kennington Common." During his absence, Moorfields and Kennington Common had been supplied by Charles Wesley, and Whitefield writes: "Blessed be God for what has been done here, since I left London, by my honoured friend and fellow-labourer, Mr. Charles Wesley. All love, all glory be to God for giving so great an increase!"

"Sunday, July 22. Received a letter from Mr. Ralph Erskine, of Scotland. Some may be offended at my corresponding with him, but I dare not but confess my Lord's disciples. Preached, at seven in the[268] morning, to about twenty thousand in Moorfields, and collected 24 17s. for the school-house at Kingswood. Ye scoffers, ye blind Pharisees, come and see, and then call these tumultuous, seditious assemblies, if you can. Would to God, they behaved so decently in any church in London! Went to St. Paul's, and received the blessed sacrament. Preached in the evening, at Kennington Common, to about thirty thousand hearers, and collected 15 15s. 6d. for the colliers. God gave me great power, and I never opened my mouth so freely against the letter-learned clergymen of the Church of England. Every day do I see the necessity of speaking out more and more. God knows my heart, I do not speak out of resentment. I heartily wish the Church of England was the joy of the whole earth; but I cannot see her sinking into papistical ignorance, and refined Deism, and not open my mouth against those who, by their sensual, lukewarm lives, and unscriptural, superficial doctrines, thus cause her to err."

Every day Whitefield was becoming more and more a Dissenter. The Rev. Ralph Erskine was the head of a sect of Dissenters who had recently seceded from the Church of Scotland. He and Whitefield were already friendly correspondents. Erskine's letter to Whitefield (mentioned in the above extract) is lost, but Whitefield's answer is preserved. The following is a part of it:—

"London, July 23, 1739.

"Reverend and Dear Sir,—Yesterday, with great pleasure, I received your kind letter. I was afraid lest I should have offended you. If this should be the case at any time, reprove me sharply, and I shall thank you with my whole heart. I bless God that my sermons are approved of by you. I am but a novice in the school of Christ; but my Master enlightens me more and more every day to know the exceeding great riches and freedom of His grace to all who believe in Jesus Christ.

"By this time, I hope you have seen my journal, and have given thanks for what great things God has done for my soul. An appendix will be printed shortly. The success of the gospel increases daily. Opposition, also, increases daily; but as opposition abounds, so does my inward consolation. A sermon of mine is now being printed, which will disturb the pleasure of preferment-loving clergy, more than ever. Mr. Wesley has not yet received your letter. He will readily correspond with you. He fights the Lord's battles, as doth his brother, most courageously. A noble reformation is begun among Kingswood colliers, near Bristol. I am now collecting money for building them a school-house. My tenderest affections await all the Associate Presbytery.[232] I am opposed for owning you; but to deny our Lord's disciples, in my opinion, is denying Christ Himself. Providence[269] detains me here. Pray write, by next post, to, rev. and dear sir, yours most affectionately in the bowels of Christ,

"George Whitefield."[233]

Mr. Erskine's reply was of enormous length, filling ten printed octavo pages. Brief extracts from it must suffice here.

"Dunfermline, August 21, 1739.

"Reverend and very dear Sir,—I have now read your journals and sermons, and I can assure you, with reference to the whole work in general, and the main scope of it, my soul has been made to magnify the Lord for the very great things He has done for you and by you. If I speak of any things wherein we differ, it shall only be to shew the greatness of my love to you, and also to prevent after mistakes."

Erskine then proceeds to express a hope that there will be "a happy union in the Lord" between the Oxford Methodists and the Associate Presbytery, "not only in a private and personal, but even in a more public and general way." He affirms, truly enough, that "England's reformation from Popery, and its superstitious and ceremonial services, however great and glorious, was far from being so full as that of Scotland;" and he trusts, that "when a new and general reformation shall be set on foot, more of the rags of the Romish Church will be dropped, such as many useless rites and customs relating to worship, which have no scriptural foundation."

Erskine next criticises Whitefield's Journal. In reference to his fellowship with Quakers, the Scotch Reformer says: "Whatever duties of love you perform towards these men, I will never believe you mean or intend to justify their principles and delusive notions."

On the subject of secession, Erskine writes:—

"You say that so long as the Articles of the Church of England are agreeable to Scripture, you resolve to preach them up, without either bigotry or party zeal. This is the case with us. We preach up and defend, doctrinally and judicially, those Articles of the Church of Scotland, agreeable to the Scriptures, which the judicatories are letting go. Hence, I conclude, you are just of our mind, as to separation from an established Church. We never declared a secession from the Church of Scotland, but only a secession from the judicatories, in their course of defection from[270] the primitive and covenanted constitution, to which we stood bound by our ordination engagements."

Whitefield's sermons are next examined, and objectionable sentiments and sentences pointed out. Erskine concludes his long letter thus:—

"I see much of the glory and majesty of God, and many of the stately steps and goings of our mighty king Jesus, in your sermons and journals; and have, with tears of joy, adored His name for what He is doing for you and by you. When I consider how you and your brethren are stirred up of God to such a remarkable way of witnessing for Him in England, against the corruptions and defections of that Church; and when we of the Associate Presbytery have been called forth in a judicial way to witness against the corruptions and defections of the Church of Scotland; and both at a juncture, when Popish powers are combining together against us, and desolating judgments are justly threatened from heaven, there is, perhaps, more in the womb of Providence relating to our several situations, and successes therein, than we are aware of. What He doth we know not now, but we may know hereafter.

"We have lately been attending several sacramental solemnities in our brethren's congregations, where vast multitudes of people were assembled at the tents without doors, as well as in the church; and I never found more of the presence of God than on some of these occasions. The Spirit of God was sometimes remarkably poured out. Enemies gnash with their teeth, but the Lord carries on His work. My brethren salute you most affectionately. They love and respect you in the Lord. I salute the worthy Sewards and Wesleys in the Lord.

"I am, rev. and dear sir, yours most affectionately in our blessed Immanuel,

"Ralph Erskine."[234]

To return to Whitefield's Journal. He writes:—

"Monday, July 23. Preached this evening at Hackney Marsh, to about two thousand people. I prayed and discoursed for above two hours, and with greater demonstration of the Spirit than ever. Every day have I more and more reason to rejoice in what God has done for my own and others' souls. Thousands at the great day will have reason to bless God for field-preaching.

"Tuesday, July 24. Despatched my private affairs, and preached in the evening at Kennington Common, to about fifteen thousand.

"Wednesday, July 25. Preached this evening at Edmonton. The congregation was large and attentive, and I rejoiced in having an opportunity of offering salvation freely to the rich.

"Thursday, July 26. Preached to upwards of ten thousand at Hackney Marsh, in a field where was to be a horse-race. I had the opportunity of bearing my testimony against such unchristian entertainments. Very[271] few left the sermon to see the race, and some of those soon returned. By the help of God, I will still go on to attack the devil in his strongest holds. The common people go to these diversions for want of knowing better.

"Friday, July 27. Preached at Kennington Common, to my usual number of hearers. Went to Lewisham.

"Saturday, July 28. Visited the family of Justice Delamotte at Blendon, where we exhorted and built up each other in the knowledge and fear of God. Preached at Blackheath in the evening, and came home rejoicing.

"Sunday, July 29. Preached this morning in Moorfields, to a much larger congregation than we had last Sunday,[235] and collected 24 9s.[236] for the school at Kingswood. Received the sacrament at St. Paul's, and preached at Kennington Common in the evening, where 20 was collected. God sent us a little rain, but that only washed away the curious hearers. Nearly thirty thousand stood their ground.

"Monday, July 30. Was busied all the morning in directing those to believe in Jesus Christ, who came asking me what they should do to be saved? Preached at Plaistow. An uncommon power was in the congregation.

"Tuesday, July 31. Preached at Newington, near Hackney, to about twenty thousand people.

"Wednesday, August 1. Preached this evening at Marylebone Fields, to near thirty thousand, and went afterwards to take my leave of Fetter Lane Society. We parted in love.

"Thursday, August 2. Preached at Newington, to upwards of twenty thousand people, and came home rejoicing to see what a great work God has done in this city.


"Friday, August 3. Spent the day in completing my affairs and taking leave of my dear friends. Preached in the evening, to near twenty thousand, at Kennington Common. I chose to discourse on St. Paul's parting speech to the elders at Ephesus, and concluded with a suitable hymn; but could scarce get to the coach, for the people's thronging me, to take me by the hand, and give me a parting blessing.

"Saturday, August 4. Went in the morning to Deptford; prayed, sung psalms, and gave a word of exhortation at two or three houses. Preached at Blackheath, to about ten thousand, and went to Blendon.

"Sunday, August 5. Expounded, prayed, and sung psalms at Mr. Delamotte's door, with many who came last night from London. Read prayers and assisted in administering the sacrament to several hundred communicants in Bexley Church. Preached in the afternoon, to about fifteen hundred, in Justice Delamotte's yard; and again in the evening, to about twenty thousand, at Blackheath.

"Monday, August 6. Preached in the evening at Chatham, to near ten thousand people.

"Tuesday, August 7. Preached in the evening at Blackheath. It rained very much the whole day; but there were about two thousand present. I discoursed on the conversion of Zaccheus the publican.

"Wednesday, August 8. At Deptford, went on board the ship; which we now hallowed by the word of God, and prayer. Preached at Blackheath, to near twenty thousand people, on the Pharisee and the Publican.

"Thursday, August 9. Preached at Blackheath, to a very large congregation, and went and lay on board the ship, in order to be ready to finish my affairs in the morning.

"Friday, August 10. Finished my ship business, and preached in the evening at Blackheath, to a yet greater congregation than ever.

"Saturday, August 11. Began in the spirit of meekness to answer the Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter. Preached in the evening at Blackheath.

"Sunday, August 12. Preached, early in the morning, to some hundreds, in Justice Delamotte's yard, most of whom came thither last night, singing and praising God. Read prayers, heard a truly Christian sermon from Mr. Piers, and assisted him in administering the blessed sacrament, in his own church, to near six hundred communicants. Preached at three in the afternoon, to near three thousand, in Mr. Delamotte's yard, and to about twenty thousand at Blackheath. At each place, the people were exceedingly affected; and, at Blackheath, when I said, 'Finally, brethren, farewell!' thousands immediately burst into strong crying and tears. I continued my discourse till it was nearly dark, and collected nearly 15 for Kingswood School.

"Monday, August 13. Finished, and sent to the press, my answer to his lordship's Pastoral Letter. Rode with many of my dear weeping friends to Erith; took my final and sorrowful farewell, and went from thence in a boat, with my dear fellow-travellers to Gravesend, where our ship was fallen down. Blessed be God for detaining me in England[273] by the embargo. Many others, as well as myself, I hope, have reason to rejoice thereat.

"Tuesday, August 14. About eight last night, got on board the Elizabeth, Captain Stevenson commander, bound from England to Philadelphia. After much entreaty, went to Gravesend, and read prayers, and preached in Mitton Church, near the town. Returned to the ship by eight in the evening, and was much rejoiced at retiring from the world."

And well he might. Eight months had elapsed since his return from America to England. Strange had been his history. Unquestionably, it is without a parallel. Much has been related; but much remains untold. In the above condensed extracts from his journal, the reader has seen how Whitefield spent his last few weeks in England. He was full of joy, thankfulness, and hope; though all the while most bitterly attacked both by the pulpit and the press. In his letters he writes:—

"Matters go on most bravely in London. I think people are ten times more affected than ever.[237] A great work of God is doing here. The Lord Jesus gets Himself the victory everyday. Free grace compels poor sinners to come in. As for my own soul, God often gives me such foretastes of His love, that I am almost continually wishing to be dissolved, that I may be with Christ.[238] Had I a hundred hands, I could employ them all. The harvest is very great. I am ashamed I can do no more for Him who hath done so much for me. Every day affords fresh instances of the power of His word. I am now about to attack Satan in one of his strongholds, if I perish. To-night I preach, God willing, where a horse-race is to be. I find my Master strengthens me for the work.[239] Methinks, I could now sing my Nunc Dimittis with pleasure, if my eyes could see my dear brother's salvation. I hope you have conversed with Mr. Wesley. It will require some degree of boldness to own either of us before men. God vouchsafes to honour us: no wonder our names are cast out as evil.[240] I rejoice there is a revival of true religion in Scotland. The Spirit of God is moving thousands of souls in England. God will work, and all oppositions must forward, but not hinder it. I am no friend to sinless perfection. I believe the being (though not the dominion) of sin remains in the hearts of the greatest believers. At the call of Christ, I am now going abroad, and expect to suffer many things before I return home."[241]

It is a remarkable fact, that, in Whitefield's sermons, the first time he prominently refers to his doctrine of election, is in the sermon he preached at Stoke Newington, on July 31,[274] from Genesis iii. 15.[242] In the same sermon, he also alludes to what, in the extract just given, he designates "sinless perfection." These were the principal points on which he and his friend Wesley afterwards differed. Perhaps it is difficult to determine, with certainty, the cause of his adopting these Calvinistic tenets; but it is a curious coincidence, that he had recently entered into a hearty correspondence with the Rev. Ralph Erskine, and that, within the last two months, he had read Erskine's sermons.[243] In the "Life of Sir Richard Hill," it is stated that Whitefield was not a Calvinist until he went to America, in 1739. It was there, "he caught the tone and imbibed the opinions of the great, the searching, but too gloomy Jonathan Edwards. His 'Treatise on the Will' was too deep a book for Whitefield, and the probability is, that the author himself was somewhat out of his own depth when he wrote it.[244] No wonder that when Whitefield first came into contact with Edwards, he 'winced a little under his metaphysical probe;' but, at last, he adopted his Calvinistic views, though it may be fairly doubted if he ever fully understood them."[245] This is partly, but not perfectly correct. There can be no doubt that, in America, Whitefield "caught the tone and imbibed the opinions of Edwards;" but Whitefield was inclined to Calvinistic doctrines before he met with Edwards, and it is almost certain that he "imbibed" these from the sermons of his friends in Scotland, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine. Whitefield's Calvinism was suddenly born in England, about the month of June, 1739; but it was cradled and greatly strengthened in America, during the year 1740. From first to last, it was a confused sort of thing. Even the Calvinistic author of the "Life of Sir Richard Hill" justly acknowledges that "it may be fairly doubted" whether Whitefield ever fully understood the Calvinism which he preached.[275] To the end of life, his theological erudition was comparatively small. His forte was, not to discuss and defend "the five points," but, with a full heart, to warn the wicked of their sin and danger, and to lead and bring them to the all-sufficient Saviour. His throne was the pulpit, not the professor's chair. He missed his way when he became the defender of the philosophical niceties of the Calvinian creed. Like Jonathan Edwards, he "was somewhat out of his own depth." I must be excused for saying, once for all, he was led into error. I totally disbelieve his Calvinian doctrines. But, having said as much as this, and whilst sorrowing that his embracing those doctrines should have occasioned a temporary breach of the friendship existing between him and Wesley, it is an unquestionable fact that this opened to Whitefield a wide field of usefulness, which, without it, neither he nor Wesley could have occupied. Without this, Whitefield could not have had the sympathy and co-operation of the Presbyterians and Independents of America. It was this that prepared the way for his popularity in Scotland. But for this, he would have lacked the important patronage of the Countess of Huntingdon. This was one of the prime sources of the immense influence he exercised over Hervey, Berridge, Romaine, Venn, and many other contemporaneous clergymen of the Church of England; and it also, to an untold extent, enabled him to move and quicken the Dissenting ministers and congregations of the land.

In the foregoing extracts from Whitefield's Journals, some of the sermons he preached are specified. Most of these were published; and a few brief selections from them will, perhaps, best convey an idea of the peculiarities of Whitefield's ministry at this important period of his life.

On July 31, at Stoke Newington, his text was Genesis iii. 15, and the following are two extracts from the sermon:—

"We must take care of healing before we see sinners wounded. Sinners must hear the thunderings of Mount Sinai, before we bring them to Mount Zion. They who never preach the law, it is to be feared, are unskilful in delivering the glad tidings of the gospel. Every minister should be a Boanerges, a son of thunder, as well as a Barnabas, a son of[276] consolation. There was an earthquake and a whirlwind before the still small voice came to Elijah. We must first shew people they are condemned, and then shew them how they must be saved."

The next quotation is a good specimen of Whitefield's fiery denunciation:—

"Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text encourages me to bid you defiance. What signifies all your malice? You are only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you, without repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The Lord Jesus sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to work for His children's good. He laughs you to scorn. He hath you in the utmost derision, and therefore, so will I. Who are you that persecute the children of the ever-blessed God? Though a poor stripling, the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman, will enable me to bruise your heads."

In the sermon, at Blackheath, on August 7, respecting the conversion of Zaccheus, the following passages occur:—

"I should think it no scandal to hear it affirmed, that none but the poor attended my ministry. Their souls are as precious to our Lord Jesus Christ as the souls of the greatest men. They were the poor that attended Him in the days of His flesh; these are they whom He hath chosen to be rich in faith, and to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Were the rich in this world's goods generally to speak well of me, woe be unto me! I should think it a dreadful sign that I was only a wolf in sheep's clothing; that I spoke peace, peace, when there was no peace; and prophesied smoother things than the gospel would allow. Hear ye this, O ye rich! Let who will dare to do it, God forbid that I should despise the poor! In doing so, I should reproach my Maker. The poor are dear to my soul."

The next paragraph is an ample reply to the accusation that Whitefield's preaching led to licentiousness:—

"What has been said of Zaccheus may serve as a rule whereby to judge whether you have faith or not. You say you have faith; but how do you prove it? Are you influenced by the faith, you say you have, to stand up and confess the Lord Jesus before men? Were you ever made willing to own, and humble yourselves for, your past offences? Does your faith work by love, so that you conscientiously lay up, according as God hath prospered you, for the support of the poor? Do you give alms of all things that you possess? And have you made due restitution to those you have wronged? If you are not thus minded, do not deceive yourselves. Though you may talk of justification, like angels, it will do you no good; it will only increase your damnation. You hold the truth, but it is in unrighteousness. Your faith, being without works, is dead. You have the devil, not Abraham, for your father. Unless you get a faith of the[277] heart, a faith working by love, with devils and damned spirits shall you dwell for evermore."

On August 8, at Blackheath, Whitefield preached on the Pharisee and Publican. Three extracts must suffice. The first contains Whitefield's views on the use of forms of prayer, and praying extemporary. Speaking of the Pharisee, he says:—

"He did not pray by form. His was an extempore prayer; for there are many Pharisees who pray, and preach too, extempore. I do not see why these may not be acquired, as well as other arts and sciences. A man with a good elocution, ready turn of thought, and good memory, may repeat his own and other men's sermons, and may pray seemingly excellently well, and yet not have the least grain of true grace in his heart. I speak this, not to cry down extempore prayer, or to discourage those who really pray by the Spirit. I would only hereby give a word of reproof to those who are so bigoted to extempore prayer, that they condemn all who use forms, as though not so holy and heavenly, as others who pray without them. Alas! this is wrong. Not every one that prays extempore is a spiritual, nor every one that prays with a form, a formal man. Let us not judge one another. Let not him who uses a form judge him who prays extempore, on that account; and let not him who prays extempore despise him who uses a form."

The next quotation is on the prayer of the Publican, and is a good example of the pith and point of Whitefield's preaching:—

"Methinks, I see him standing afar off, pensive, oppressed, and even overwhelmed with sorrow. He smites upon his breast, his treacherous, ungrateful, desperately wicked breast—a breast now ready to burst; and at length, out of the abundance of his heart, and with many tears, cries out, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' Not, God be merciful to yonder proud Pharisee! Not, God be merciful to me a saint! for he knew 'all his righteousnesses were as filthy rags.' Not, God be merciful to such or such an one; God be merciful to me, even to me a sinner,—a sinner by birth,—a sinner by thought, word, and deed,—a sinner as to my person,—a sinner as to all my performances,—a sinner in whom is no health, in whom dwelleth no good thing,—a sinner, poor, miserable, blind, and naked,—a self-accused, self-condemned sinner. What think you? Would this publican have been offended, if any minister had told him he deserved to be damned? Would he have been angry, if any one had told him, that, by nature, he was half a devil and half a beast? No; he would have confessed a thousand hells to have been his due; and that he was an earthly, devilish sinner."

The next extract is one of Whitefield's terrible declamations;—


"Hear this, all ye self-justiciaries, tremble, and behold your doom! a dreadful doom, more dreadful than words can express, or thoughts conceive! If you refuse to humble yourselves, after hearing this parable, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that God shall visit you with all His storms, and pour all the vials of His wrath upon your rebellious heads. You exalted yourselves here, and God shall abase you hereafter. You are as proud as the devil, and with devils shall you dwell to all eternity. Notwithstanding you come up to the temple to pray, your prayers are turned into sin, and you go down to your houses unjustified. And, if you are unjustified, the wrath of God abideth upon you. You are in your blood. All the curses of the law belong to you. Cursed are you when you go out; cursed are you when you come in; cursed are your thoughts; cursed are your words; cursed are your deeds. Everything you do, say, or think, from morning to night, is only one continued series of sin. However highly you may be honoured in the Church militant, you will have no place in the Church triumphant. 'Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God.' Pull down every self-righteous thought, and every proud imagination, that now exalteth itself against the perfect, personal, imputed righteousness of the dear Lord Jesus. 'For he,' and he alone, 'that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.'"

No wonder that fiery eloquence like this attracted notice; and no wonder that it brought upon the preacher the fierce censures of his enemies. The Weekly Miscellany was more furious than ever. The following are specimens of its outpourings:—

On July 7, there was a long letter "to the Rev. Mr. Seagrave," in which Whitefield and his friends were accused of causing "all the miseries attending those poor, weak wretches and their families, who, by the woes and curses denounced on them in default of raising their imagination to the pitch of enthusiasm, had been driven into a belief of their certain damnation, and, consequently, into all the horrors of despair and distraction."

On July 21, the leading article, filling nearly two folio pages, says:—

"The novelist in religion passes with me either for a fool or a knave. These things frequently begin in want of sense, but always end in want of honesty. To keep attention and prevent satiety, false religion is continually changing its dress, as in masquerades, varying its voice, and accommodating its motions, according to all the mazes of error and sportive turns of madness and folly. It gives the rein to every licentious humour, or practises amazing austerities; it distorts the limbs, and screws the features; it laughs, it sings, it weeps, it screams, it groans, it raves in streets, bawls on commons, preaches from walls, and carts, and stools,[279] and windows; expounds, prays, exclaims. The enthusiast is now a quietist, and does nothing; and, anon, in perpetual motion, and never at rest. Sometimes, he is a meteor, which just flashes and disappears; and, sometimes, a direful comet, seen for a long time, and carrying mischief and destruction in the sweep of his tail."

The article proceeds to stigmatise Whitefield as follows:—

"Behold, on yonder eminence, the preacher, with admiring, subscribing crowds about him. 'He is young.' Good! 'How innocent he looks.' Better! 'He has no human learning.' Best of all! 'He knows everything without labour, without study.' Prodigious! See! he spreads his hands, and opens his lips as wide as possible. Hark! Hark! he talks of a sensible new birth! Then, belike, he is in labour, and the good women around him are come to his assistance. He dilates himself,—cries out,—the hill swells into a mountain,—and parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Well: he is, at last, delivered; he has felt the new birth; and damns all that have not."

The learned lampooner calls Whitefield "a modern prating youth," "a visionary Anticle, in a gown and cassock;" and proceeds to say:—

"It is quite impossible to be serious with buffoons in religion, and mountebanks in theology; to dispute with a creature, who disclaims sense, and is below argument. He holds forth from the stairs of a wind-mill, and never was exceeded, but by the Knight of de la Mancha flying on the sails of it. He has formed a society of females, who are to confess their love affairs one to another, and to take care there shall be a supply of new Methodists for future generations. He has collected, without letters, patents, license, or protection, larger sums than usually appear upon any gaming table; and, yet, has incurred no penalty by it. If this fund be employed for the purpose given out, the Orphan House is like to exceed all the palaces in Europe. Supposing this humour to go on, I know nothing the growling clergy have to do, but to leave sense and honesty, their little pulpits and less incomes; and to bawl profitable exclamations, with great enlargement, on commons, and get thousands by it. In short, we must put a stop to this sharping trade of the Methodists; or we must all, man, woman, and child, join in the plunder with them."

On August 4, nearly an entire page was used in defending Dr. Trapp, and abusing Whitefield. In reference to Whitefield's exclamation, "O that my head were waters," etc., the writer sneeringly remarks:—

"If his eyes were as full of tears as his heart could wish, what a glorious man he would be to preach a funeral sermon! And if his head were an ocean, he would certainly drown all his congregation, even though he were to preach on Kennington Common."


On August 11, the editor, Mr. Hooker, wrote nearly two pages, in defence of Dr. Stebbing and Dr. Hammond, on the new birth, and, of course, in denouncing Whitefield and his friends:—

"Some Methodists," says he, "have made their boasts that they are become fools for Christ's sake, in which there is something of truth that they do not intend. But, if they think it commendable to be fools for Christ, I hope they will never think it tolerable to be knaves for Him too."

The Weekly Miscellany continued, almost without interruption, these coarse attacks, to the end of 1739; but one added extract must suffice. On December 29, nearly two pages of the newspaper were filled with a violent philippic against Whitefield as a Dissenter. The writer says:—

"Whitefield has been attacked as an enthusiast, and often as a teacher of false and pestilent doctrine; but not often as a Dissenter."

Having adduced proofs that Whitefield was ipso facto a Dissenter, the article proceeds:—

"He runs about the world, preaches, prays, exhorts, expounds, and does what he lists, where he lists, and how he lists; sets at nought his diocesan wherever he comes; and does all, not only independently, but, in defiance of him. This is your Church of England minister! An independent churchman! A perfect original! The first of the kind! He has thrown off the liturgy of the Church of England, and gives the people nothing but his extempore effusions in its stead. He not only uses, but magnifies and extols, at a great rate, extempore prayer, to beget in people a disesteem of all forms."

The writer then adverts to Whitefield's patronising the preaching of Howell Harris, the layman, and says:—

"The Dissenters are fond of him; but not a man among them has the grace to go out into the highways and hedges, and compel poor sinners to come in. None of them ever would, or will now, supply, in his absence, his place, in Moorfields, or on Kennington Common. Not they. They would never so much as sit, like some of ours, in their proper habits, while he was preaching, some on his right hand and some on his left, to do him honour before the people. But they would breakfast, dine, and eat a little supper with him. They would partake of his entertainments, or entertain him themselves in their own houses, and treat him most courteously, not only to engage him to speak handsomely of them in his journals, but to encourage him; to clap him on the back, and bid him go on in the glorious work he had undertaken. But let them take care.[281] Proximus ardet. Enthusiasm runs like wildfire, and, though it begins in the Church of God Established, it may not stop there, but may run among, and consume their own churches."

Among the London newspapers, the Weekly Miscellany was the most rabid of Whitefield's opponents; but, occasionally, others of them had slashing articles against the young evangelist. For instance, the Craftsman, of September 8, in a serio-comic article, propounds "A Scheme of a new Court of Judicature, in which Methodists are to preside." The members of the court were to be four-and-twenty in number, "with an archon at the head of them: the first archon to be the most excellent and industrious Mr. Whitefield, or, in his absence, the ingenious Mr. Wesley; and the four-and-twenty to be chosen from among the Methodists on Kennington Common." They were to be provided with food and clothing; the clothing of each member was to cost 2 6s. 812d. per year; the diet 234d. per day; and the stipend was to be 2 a year, which would "be sufficient to buy them books of devotion."

Besides attacks like these in the public papers, Whitefield was severely censured in private conversation and correspondence. The Rev. William Law was a man of distinguished piety and talent; and his writings had been of eminent service to Whitefield and his friends. Again and again, they sought his counsel; and, speaking generally, he had always shewn them kindness. But even Mr. Law now turned against the young evangelist. On August 10, Charles Wesley waited upon him, and wrote:—

"He blamed Mr. Whitefield's journals, and way of proceeding; said he had had great hopes that the Methodists would have been dispersed, by little and little, into livings, and have leavened the whole lump. Among other things, he said, 'Were I so talked of as Mr. Whitefield is, I should run away, and hide myself entirely.' 'You might,' I answered, 'but God would bring you back like Jonah.'"[246]

Dr. Warburton, an attorney's son, born at Newark-upon-Trent, was now rising into fame. He had recently published the first volume of his great work on "The Divine Legation of Moses," and, twenty years afterwards, was made bishop[282] of Gloucester. In two letters, to the Rev. Mr. Birch, one dated "September 16, 1738," and the other, "September 10, 1739," Warburton says:—

"I have seen Whitefield's Journal, and read it with great curiosity. The poor man is quite mad. His honesty, as you say, is very conspicuous. The best way of exposing these idle fanatics would be to print passages out of George Fox's Journal, and Ignatius Loyola, and Whitefield's Journals, in parallel columns.[247] Their conformity in folly is amazing. One thing was extremely singular in Loyola: he became, from the modestest fanatic that ever was, the most cold-hearted knave, by the time his Society was thoroughly established. The same natural temperament, that set his brains on a heat, worked off the ferment. The case was so uncommon that his adversaries thought all his fanaticism pretended. But, in this, they were certainly mistaken. The surprising part of all was, that his folly and knavery concurred so perfectly to promote his end. If I be not mistaken in Whitefield, he bids fair for acting the second part of Loyola, as he has done the first."[248]

Another private letter, by a very different personage, will be read with interest. The celebrated Countess of Hertford, afterwards Duchess of Somerset, writing to the Countess of Pomfret, then on the continent, remarks:—

"I do not know whether you have heard of our new sect, who call themselves Methodists. There is one Whitefield at the head of them, a young man under five-and-twenty, who has, for some months, gone about preaching in the fields and market-places of the country; and in London, at Mayfair and Moorfields, to ten or twelve thousand people at a time. He went to Georgia, and returned to take priest's orders, which he did; and, I believe, since that time, hardly a day has passed that he has not preached, and generally twice. At first, he and some of his brethren seemed only to aim at restoring the practice of the primitive Christians, as to daily sacraments, stated fasts, frequent prayers, relieving prisoners, visiting the sick, and giving alms to the poor; but, upon sound ministers refusing these men their pulpits, they have betaken themselves to preaching in the fields; and they have such crowds of followers, that they have set in a flame all the clergy of the kingdom, who represent them as hypocrites and enthusiasts. As to the latter epithet, some passages in Mr. Whitefield's latest journals seem to countenance the accusation; but, I think, their manner of living has not afforded any grounds to suspect them of hypocrisy. The Bishop of London, however, has thought it necessary to write a pastoral letter, to warn the people of his diocese[283] against being led away by them; though, at the same time, he treats them personally with great tenderness and moderation. I cannot say, Dr. Trapp has done the same, in a sermon which he has published, entitled, 'The Great Folly and Danger of being Righteous over-much,' a doctrine which does not seem absolutely necessary to be preached to the people of the present age."[249]

The pamphlets published, for and against Whitefield, were more than ordinary people had time to read. The following is as complete a list, for the year 1739, as, perhaps, it is possible to furnish:—

1. "A Defence of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield."

2. "An Expostulatory Letter to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield."

3. "A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield. Designed to correct his mistaken Account of Regeneration, or the New Birth." By Tristram Land, M.A.

4. "The Nature, Folly, Sin, and Danger of being Righteous over-much." By Joseph Trapp, D.D.

5. "The Nature, Usefulness, and Regulation of Religious Zeal." By Joseph Trapp, D.D.

6. "Dr. Trapp Tried and Cast; and allowed to the 10th of May next to Recant." By Jonathan Warne.

7. "An Answer to the Rev. Dr. Trapp's four Sermons against Mr. Whitefield." By Robert Seagrave, M.A.

8. "A Congratulatory Letter to the Rev. Dr. Trapp: occasioned by his four Sermons against Enthusiasm." By T. S——y, Esq.

9. "A Caution against Religious Delusion. A Sermon on the New Birth: occasioned by the Pretensions of the Methodists." By Henry Stebbing, D.D.

10. "The Doctrine of Assurance: a Sermon, by Arthur Bedford, M.A."

11. "The Nature and Proper Evidence of Regeneration." By Ralph Skerret, D.D.

12. "The Trial of the Spirits; or, a Caution against Enthusiasm, or Religious Delusion, in opposition to the Methodists. A Sermon preached before the University of Oxford, by John Wilder, M.A."

13. "St. John's Test of knowing Christ, and being born of Him. A Sermon preached in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, by Charles Wheatley, M.A."

14. "A Letter to the Bishops, in relation to Mr. Whitefield."

15. "True Character of Mr. Whitefield."

16. "Enthusiasm Explained."

17. "Narrative of the Life of Mr. Whitefield."

18. "A Dialogue between Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Garnor."

19. "The Mock Preacher."

20. "Enthusiasm no Novelty; or, the Spirit of the Methodists in the years 1641 and 1642."


21. "The Conduct of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield vindicated from the Aspersions and Malicious Invectives of his Enemies."

22. "The Pious Youth. Addressed to Mr. Whitefield."

23. "The Accomplished Methodist."

24. "An Earnest Appeal to the Public in relation to Mr. Whitefield."

25. "The Case between Mr. Whitefield and Dr. Stebbing."

26. "The Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter to the People of his Diocese, by way of Caution against Lukewarmness on the one hand, and Enthusiasm on the other."

27. "A Supplement to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Answer to the Bishop of London's last Pastoral Letter." By a Presbyter of the Church of England.

28. "Observations on the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Answer to the Bishop of London's last Pastoral Letter." By a Curate in the country.

29. "Remarks on the Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter." By Robert Seagrave.

30. "Letter to the Bishop of London, on his late Pastoral Letter and Mr. Whitefield's Answer."

31. "Methodism Displayed; or, Remarks on Mr. Whitefield's Answer to the Bishop of London's last Pastoral Letter. In a Letter to Mr. Whitefield; or, in his absence, to any of his Abettors." By James Bate, M.A.

32. "An Earnest Appeal to the Public; on occasion of Mr. Whitefield's extraordinary Answer to the Pastoral Letter of the Bishop of London: Intended to vindicate his Lordship from the extravagant charges, and mean evasions contained in the said pretended Answer; and to detect the true spirit and design of its Author, from his notorious inconsistence with himself, his disregard of the Church by whose authority he preaches, and his treatment of those whom that Church hath constituted his superiors. Addressed to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley (Mr. Whitefield being absent)."

33. "A short Preservative against the Doctrines revived by Mr. Whitefield and his Adherents: being a Supplement to the Bishop of London's late Pastoral Letter." By a Curate of London.

34. "A Letter to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London, occasioned by his Lordship's late Pastoral Letter and Mr. Whitefield's Answer." By Philalethes.

35. "Anti-Methodism Displayed."

36. "A Compleat Account of the Conduct of that eminent Enthusiast, Mr. Whitefield."

37. "A Letter to Robert Seagrave, M.A." By Timothy Scrubb.

38. "A Letter, from an English Brother of the Moravian Persuasion, to the English Methodists."

39. "A Plain Address to the Followers and Favourites of the Methodists."

40. "The Amorous Humours of one Whitefield."

41. "The Methodists: a Humorous Burlesque Poem; addressed to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield and his Followers: proper to be bound up with his Sermons, and the Journals of his Voyage to Georgia," etc.


42. "The Life and particular Proceedings of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield. By an Impartial Hand."

43. "Observations on the Remarks of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Journal, and on the Rev. Mr. Tristram Land's Letters," etc.

44. "The Dreadful Degeneracy of a great part of the Clergy, the Means to promote Irreligion, Atheism, and Popery; to which is prefixed a Letter to the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield."

45. "Judging for Ourselves; or, Free-thinking, the great Duty of Religion. Displayed in two Lectures, by P. Annet. Addressed to the New Sect of Methodists, all Faith-mongers, and Bigots. With a Poem to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield."

46. "Observations and Remarks on Mr. Seagrave's Conduct and Writings. In which his Answer to the Rev. Dr. Trapp's four Sermons is more particularly considered."

47. "A faithful Narrative of the Life and Character of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, B.D., from his Birth to the Present Time: containing an Account of his Doctrines and Morals, his motives for going to Georgia, and his Travels through several parts of England."

48. "An expostulatory Letter to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, and the rest of his Brethren, the Methodists of the Church of England; wherein the Rites and Ceremonies of that Church are considered; and the partiality of those Gentlemen, with regard to the practice of them, condemned."

49. "A Defence of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Doctrine of Regeneration, in Answer to the Rev. Mr. Land. Designed to correct his Mistakes, to wipe off his Aspersions, and to prevent his doing Mischief among the People. By a Member of one of the Religious Societies."

This long list of publications, all issued in the year 1739, is abundant proof of the commotion created by young Whitefield and the Methodists. A few, but only a few, were written in defence of Whitefield. The last mentioned was one. In the same category must be placed the two pamphlets by Mr. Seagrave, one of which has been already noticed. No. 47 in the list is also favourable to Whitefield, and is a well-written production. No. 21 is an extravagant eulogium on Whitefield, and a violent attack on the clergy of the Established Church. "Whitefield," says the writer, "has set them an example, which they must, in some measure, follow. But for him, they could have gone on in their old way as well as ever; and their corn, and their wine, and their pigs, and their eggs, and their apples would have come in as usual. All besides is unnecessary trouble; and they detest the man who has put them upon it." No. 27 also is favourable, but contains little that is worth noticing. "Dr. Trapp Tried and Cast," by Jonathan Warne, tells the Doctor that "there[286] is more profound divinity in one of Whitefield's sermons, than in the whole of his four discourses." "The Letter to the Bishop of London," by Philalethes, was also a mild, but not remarkable, defence of Whitefield. No. 43 is a rather elaborate apology for some of Whitefield's unguarded sayings, and is ably written. "The Dreadful Degeneracy of a great part of the Clergy," by Jonathan Warne, is a long production of more than a hundred octavo pages. It is, however, more a defence of the doctrines Whitefield preached, than of Whitefield himself.

Out of the forty-nine publications, whose titles have been given, not more than about ten can be regarded as at all favourable to the young preacher. The rest were antagonistic, and, in many instances, extremely virulent. In illustration of this, a few extracts, almost promiscuously selected, must suffice.

Tristram Land, after declaring that Whitefield "cannot be exceeded by the warmest-headed Quaker in the kingdom," proceeds to say: "It is commonly reported you seldom converse with the clergy of the Church of England, though you are pleased to visit Dissenting teachers, and often mix with the younger part of the laity of all denominations." Mr. Land further accuses Whitefield of "rudeness to the whole body of" the Clergy; of "bringing contempt upon the Liturgy;" of "creating misunderstandings between the parochial clergy and their people;" of "raising causeless doubts and scruples in the minds of some well-disposed Christians;" and of "encouraging the practice of conventicling in several parts of London."

Dr. Stebbing, in his Sermon on the New Birth, sneeringly observes:—

"Mr. Whitefield, who had his orders among us, and still professes himself a member of the Church of England, tells us of some conversations he had with Quakers, in his journeyings. It seems they could not agree about the use of the sacraments and the payment of tithes; but, says he, 'I think their notions about walking and being led by the Spirit are right and good.' The young man, you perceive, is in a very hopeful way! He is a Quaker already in the first and leading principle of that sect; and, as to his scruples about tithes, etc., they may abate as he grows better acquainted with his associates."


In "the Life of Whitefield, by an Impartial Hand," the young preacher is accused, by the Rev. J. Tucker, of "propagating blasphemous and enthusiastical notions." Mr. Tucker dolorously adds:—

"Some of Mr. Whitefield's followers have insulted and reviled me in passing along the streets; and declared that they looked upon me as the enemy of God and His religion. This was owing to Mr. Whitefield's pointing at me so often in his prayers, and describing me in his harangues to the populace." Mr. Tucker further relates, that, "to gain credit with the populace, Whitefield often had in his mouth at Bristol this dreadful imprecation, 'If what I say be not strictly true, may all that ever heard me, may you that now hear me, and all that shall hear me hereafter, rise up in judgment against me, and rejoice at my damnation!'"

Mr. Wilder, in his Sermon "preached before the University of Oxford, August 5, 1739," abounds in abusive epithets, which need not be quoted; but two or three extracts will be useful as displaying the fiery, fuming spirit of this university preacher; and the animosity with which Whitefield was regarded.

"I cannot dismiss this point, without taking notice of the indecent, false, unchristian reflections cast on the clergy of our Church, charging them with popery and perjury, than which nothing is more unjust, except the cruel mercies of those, who pass sentence of damnation upon all who have not the same spiritual pride, vanity, and enthusiasm as themselves."

"He" (Whitefield) "is but a young son of the prophets, yet, if we will take his word for it, he is as much inspired, and felt the Holy Ghost at imposition of hands, as much as Elisha did, when Elijah dropped his mantle. Nay, he has the modesty to compare himself, in his labours and afflictions, with the great apostle of the Gentiles, and even with the Son of God Himself."

"Let us hear what this inspired man saith of the new birth. We find, from his writings, that the new birth is a conversion and change wrought in the mind of a man, by a sensible operation of the Spirit of God; and that those who have not experienced some such sensible change, in their hearts, are not born again, nor in a state of salvation. If this be true, how few of all the millions of the professors of Christianity are there, that have been, or will be saved! Scarce any but the itinerant preacher, a few of his followers, and some Quakers. If this doctrine be true, how is the God of all mercy and goodness, the God of love, comfort, and joy, turned into a cruel and tyrannical being, that delights not to save, but to destroy mankind!"

"That they" (the Methodists) "teach doctrines inconsistent with, and destructive of Christianity, appears from their encouraging religious[288] exercises, to the neglect of other Christian duties. How many, while they run gaping after the spiritual food which these rambling teachers pretend to distribute to them from heaven, leave their business at random, and their families to want the necessary food of this life; not considering that it is their duty to attend, at the appointed seasons, on the services and ordinances of God, under their proper pastors, not in highways, in fields, or commons, but in those places which are set apart for, and dedicated to, God's honour and worship."

"His" (Whitefield's) "boasting of the Lord's assisting him to lift up his voice like a trumpet, makes me believe, that, rather than return to a sober mind, and leave the field, to preach sound doctrine in our churches, he is resolved to make his voice the trumpet of war; and reduce, if possible, this Church and State to anarchy and confusion: as it was effected once in the last century, when by a successful rebellion begun, fomented, and carried on, by the like spiritual enthusiasts, the life of the best of kings was barbarously taken away; the best of monarchies changed into a democracy; and this truly apostolical Church wounded, mangled, and, by papists and puritans, crucified, like our Saviour, between two thieves."

Such are fair specimens of the sermon which Mr. Wilder[250] "preached before the University of Oxford." Young Whitefield was far from perfect; and, certainly, the same may be said respecting his rebukers.

The Rev. Charles Wheatley, in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, was less violent in his language than Mr. Wilder; but, in foot-notes, gives unguarded extracts from Whitefield's Journals, and exclaims, "Was there ever such a medley of vanity, and nonsense, and blasphemy jumbled together?" In his sermon, also, he speaks of the Methodists, as "assuming to themselves, upon all occasions, the peculiar language of the Holy Ghost; equalling themselves, in everything they do, to prophets and apostles; and boasting of immediate inspirations and extraordinary communications with God; and, in proof of it, laying a blasphemous claim to greater miracles than ever were performed by our blessed Saviour Himself." Mr. Wheatley's sermon and foot-notes were almost altogether levelled against Whitefield.

In another pamphlet (No. 28), "A Curate in the Country" writes:—

"I believe Mr. Whitefield set out with a zeal for God, though a mistaken one. The pulpits were then open to him, in confidence that he would preach nothing contrary to the Gospel; but when his mistakes were more[289] known, and when his errors were so notorious that even charity could not but see them; and when, to propagate these errors, he claimed the chair, visiting every church, and violently taking possession of their pulpits, it was the duty of the clergy to check the spreading evil, and refuse him the liberty of misleading their people in their own churches. This he calls being turned out of our synagogues, and complains of it as a hardship. Who made him universal pastor? Who committed to him the care of all the churches? Do such complaints become a meek disciple of Christ? Is such behaviour the mark of a dutiful and true son of the Church of England? What ill consequences may we not dread from so bold an invader, from so unreasonable a separatist?"

"A Curate in London" (in Pamphlet No. 33) writes:—

"Let us not be carried away by pretences—'tis hard to say to what. Pretences! of weak and heated men, such as have, in all the different ages of the Church, built up a faith of their own, always to the prejudice, frequently to the ruin, of that once delivered to the saints."

In "Methodism Displayed," by the Rev. James Bate, M.A., Rector of St. Paul's, Deptford, there is an almost unceasing reiteration of charges of pride, pertness, and impudence.

The "Compleat Account of that eminent Enthusiast, Mr. Whitefield" (No. 36) tells its readers, that this "extraordinary itinerant had lately made a progress into the western parts of England, and some parts of Wales, where, from tombstones, and market-crosses, on commons and mountains, he had preached to vast numbers of ignorant people, and, since his return to London, in a wide place near a building" (Bedlam) "which would suit him much better." "He had succeeded the mountebank in Moorfields, pretty near the place where the White Bear exhibits himself to public view every day (but Sundays). From the wall, instead of a stage, he harangued his congregation, and, by the choice of his text, most blasphemously compared himself, after his usual custom, to our blessed Saviour."

From Pamphlet No. 46 the following is taken:—

"Mr. Whitefield behaved at first in part like a clergyman, but never altogether so. Then he was looked upon as an impudent bold man; but since as a wicked man. When, though an ecclesiastic, he opposed all ecclesiastical maxims, and ran counter to all authority of the Church, he was deemed a novelist; but when he daringly pleaded the impulse of the Holy Spirit for these irregular proceedings, he was then, with equal[290] justice, deemed an enthusiast. Whether he is an impostor, God only knows."

After asserting that Whitefield has "sunk the house of God below a play-house, and turned religion into a farce," the writer adds:—

"I think it beyond all contradiction that he is in practice a Dissenter. He has long thought fit to renounce the Liturgy of the Church of England, and to pray extempore in his own words. The more we consider his words and works, the more will he appear an enthusiast, a blasphemer, and a wavering, wandering preacher of no establishment. He at first touched upon the Church, but transgressed its order, so as not to continue in it. At present, he seems near attached to the Dissenting communion, though he does not omit to blend his notions with a good spice both of the Roman Catholic and the Mahometan."

All this wrathful outpouring was bad enough; but one of the most ribald publications against Whitefield was (No. 41) "The Methodists: an Humorous Burlesque Poem, addressed to the Rev. Mr. Whitefield and his Followers." Some parts of this foul production cannot be quoted with decency. Two extracts, both relating to Whitefield, must suffice. After describing the devil's journey from Rome to Oxford, the scurrilous poetaster writes:—

"On holy Pembroke's ragged top
He first of all did choose to stop;
There spread his dusky dew around,
To quite unconsecrate the ground;
Then to his fav'rite Whitefield flies;
But first, because he'd not surprise
One to his heart and mind so dear,
He chose his horrid form to clear.
He straightway shod his cloven foot,
Pull'd off his horns and all to boot;
Then dress'd him in a student's gown,
And, thus equipp'd, to George went down.
He found the dinner on the table,
All eating fast as they were able,
(For Methodists still love to eat,
And always fondly praise a treat.)"

The following are the last lines of this disgraceful production:—

"Hail, O saint Whitefield, ape of grace,
Thou holy sinner, with a formal face;
[291] Like a young pelican, with stomach good,
Prey on thy mother's vital blood;
The place that foster'd thee despise,
And by enthusiasm rise;
Content thyself to lead the throng,
And charm the vulgar right or wrong.
When Trapp, with solid, lasting sense,
Displays thy fatal influence,
Stare thou the reverend preacher in the face,
And squint and fleer at all he says:
Let boys and girls thy foll'wers be,
While men of sense thy converse flee:
Religion's sacred name degrade,
And sink thy calling to a trade.
For orphans, charity—always,
By fictitious means the money raise;
Rob masters of their servants' time,
And rifle beauty in its prime;
Make wives their husbands rob, and then
Sing them a hymn, and rob ag'n.
Preach, chatter, throw thy arms, and prate,
Be formal as thou canst, and cheat;
But know, howe'er you've form'd your plan,
The moral is the honest man."

More than enough of this. Only one other of the attacks on Whitefield can be noticed. This, however, was the most authoritative and serious. Edmund Gibson, D.D., was a man of great ability and learning, a laborious student, and one whose piety, it is said, was equal to his erudition. He had now reached the age of three-score years and ten, was Bishop of London, and Whitefield's diocesan. It is no mean proof of the enormous excitement created by young Whitefield and his friends, that this venerable and distinguished man deemed it his duty to enter the lists against them. He had already published three Pastoral Letters, "in defence of the Gospel-revelation, and by way of preservative against the late writings in favour of Infidelity." He now, on August 1, issued a fourth, with the title, "The Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter to the People of his Diocese; especially those of the two great Cities of London and Westminster; by way of Caution, against Lukewarmness on one hand, and Enthusiasm on the other." (8vo. 55 pp.) Before the year was ended, this letter passed, at least, through[292] three editions. Nineteen pages were devoted to "lukewarmness;" the remainder to "enthusiasm." The charges brought against the Methodists are nine in number; and it is a remarkable fact, that all of them are supported, exclusively, by quotations from Whitefield's loosely worded Journals. The charges against Whitefield and his friends are these:—1. A claim to extraordinary communications with God, and more than ordinary assurances of a special presence with them. 2. Talking in the language of those who have a special and immediate mission from God. 3. Professing to think and act under the immediate guidance of a Divine inspiration. 4. Speaking of their preaching and expounding, and the effects of them, as the sole work of a Divine power. 5. Boasting of sudden and surprising effects as wrought by the Holy Ghost, in consequence of their preaching. 6. Claiming the spirit of prophecy. 7. Speaking of themselves in the language, and under the character, of apostles of Christ, and even of Christ Himself. 8. Professing to plant and propagate a new Gospel, as unknown to the generality of ministers and people, in a Christian country. 9. Endeavouring to justify their own extraordinary methods of teaching, by casting unworthy reflections upon the parochial clergy, as deficient in the discharge of their duty, and not instructing their people in the true doctrines of Christianity.

In support of these accusations, not fewer than ninety quotations are made from Whitefield's Journals; but, excepting one in proof of the last-mentioned allegation, there are none which are not capable of an interpretation widely different from that supplied by Bishop Gibson. No doubt, many are unfortunately expressed.[251] In not a few, there is a semblance of ostentation, and even of religious pride, which all educated and sober-minded Christians will condemn. But, while honestly admitting such facts as these, it is preposterous[293] to affirm that either Whitefield or the Wesleys ever made pretensions like those ascribed to them by the conscientious bishop of the London diocese. He thought they did; but he was prejudiced and mistaken.

Whitefield was impulsive, and pre-eminently a man of action. The Bishop's Pastoral Letter is dated, "August 1, 1739." On August 11, Whitefield began his answer to the bishop's pamphlet; and, two days afterwards, sent it to the press. It was composed at Blendon, and is one of the smartest productions of his pen; its style firm, but quiet and respectful; its language pure, pointed, forcible, and without the diffusiveness which often characterised Whitefield's writings. He had no assistance from the Wesleys, for John was in the west of England, and Charles in London. The celerity with which it was written deserves notice; for, during the two days and a half devoted to it, Whitefield preached four sermons, read prayers once, and, in Bexley church, assisted in administering the sacrament to nearly six hundred persons. The title was, "The Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Answer to the Bishop of London's last Pastoral Letter." (8vo. 28 pp.) Want of space precludes the insertion here of copious extracts. It is enough to say, 1. That, Whitefield distinctly and truthfully affirms, "I never did pretend to the extraordinary operations of the Holy Spirit. I only lay claim to His ordinary gifts and influences." 2. That, so far from setting aside the teaching of the Established Church, he says, "My constant way of preaching is, first, to prove my propositions by Scripture, and then to illustrate them by the Articles and Collects of the Church of England. Those who have heard me can witness how often I have exhorted them to be constant at the public service of the Church; I attend on it myself; and would read the public Liturgy every day, if your lordship's clergy would give me leave."

It is only fair to add, that, Whitefield honestly meets all the charges brought against him; and that, upon the whole, his "Answer" is complete and victorious.

This was Whitefield's only reply to the scores of antagonistic pamphlets published during the year 1739. In the same year, however, he issued a considerable number of other publications, of which the following is a list:—


1. "A Journal of a Voyage from London to Savannah in Georgia. In two parts. Part I. From London to Gibraltar. Part II. From Gibraltar to Savannah. With a short Preface, shewing the reason of its publication." 8vo. 55 pp.

2. "A Continuation of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Journal, from his Arrival at Savannah to his return to London." 8vo. 38 pp.

3. "A Continuation of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Journal, from his Arrival at London to his Departure thence on his way to Georgia." 8vo. 115 pp.

4. "A Continuation of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield's Journal, during the time he was detained in England by the Embargo." 8vo. 40 pp.

5. "An Account of Money, received and expended by the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, for the Poor of Georgia." 8vo. 23 pp.[252]

These five publications have been so freely used in the foregoing pages as to render further description unnecessary.

In the same year, 1739, appeared, 1. "Sermons on Various Subjects. In two Volumes." (12mo. 161 and 150 pp.) And, 2. "The Christian's Companion; or, Sermons on Several Subjects." (12mo. 335 pp.) The sermons, however, contained in these volumes were partly sermons already published in the years 1737 and 1738; and partly sermons found in the following list,[253] and published separately.

1. "Directions how to hear Sermons. A Sermon preached at Christ's Church in Spitalfields, London." 8vo. 18 pp.

2. "Worldly Business no Plea for the Neglect of Religion. A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Old Jewry, London." 8vo. 17 pp.

3. "Satan's Devices. A Sermon preached at Great St. Helen's, London." 8vo. 25 pp.

4. "The Marks of the New Birth. A Sermon preached at the Parish Church of St. Mary, Whitechapel, London." 8vo. 23 pp.

5. "The Knowledge of Jesus Christ, the best Knowledge. A Sermon preached at Great St. Helen's, London." 8vo. 18 pp.

6. "The Power of Christ's Resurrection. A Sermon preached at Werburgh's, in the city of Bristol." 8vo. 20 pp.


7. "The Duty of Searching the Scriptures. A Sermon preached at St. Michael, Cornhill." 8vo. 19 pp.

8. "The Folly and Danger of being not Righteous enough. A Sermon preached at Kennington Common, Moorfields, and Blackheath." 8vo. 34 pp.

9. "The Necessity of the Righteousness of Christ. A Farewell Sermon preached at Moorfields, June 3, 1739." 8vo. 25 pp.

10. "The Care of the Soul urged as the One Thing Needful. A Sermon preached on Kennington Common, May 19, 1739." 8vo. 35 pp.

11. "Watching, the peculiar Duty of a Christian.[254] A Sermon preached at Mary-le-bone, Moorfields, and Kennington Common." 8vo. 25 pp.

12. "An Exhortation to come and see Jesus.[255] A Sermon preached at Moorfields, May 20, 1739." 8vo. 14 pp.

13. "Jesus Christ the only Way to Salvation. A Sermon preached on Kennington Common." 8vo. 24 pp.

14. "Prayers on Several Occasions."[256] 8vo. 24 pp.

15.[257] "Faith acts above Reason, proved from the Example of Abraham, in offering up Isaac. And the great Folly of Races. A Sermon preached at Hackney-Marsh, during the time of the Horse-Races."[258] 8vo. 19 pp.

16. "Christ the Support of the Tempted. A Sermon preached at Blackheath." 8vo. 23 pp.

17. "Christ the only Rest for the Weary and Heavy-laden. A Sermon preached at Kennington Common." 8vo. 21 pp.

18. "God's free Grace in the Salvation of Sinners, proved from the Conversion of St. Paul. A Sermon preached at Newington."[259] 8vo. 34 pp.

19. "The Polite and Fashionable Diversions of the Age, destructive to Soul and Body. A Sermon preached at Blackheath." 8vo. 31 pp.

20. "The Observation of the Birth of Christ, the Duty of all Christians; or, the true way of keeping Christmas. A Sermon preached at Bristol." 8vo. 21 pp.


21. "A New Heart, the best New Year's Gift, and Repentance the only Way to obtain it. A Sermon preached at Bristol." 8vo. 35 pp.

22. "The great Duty of Charity recommended, particularly to all who profess Christianity. A Sermon preached at Kennington Common, and at Gloucester," etc. 8vo. 25 pp.

23. "Christ the only Preservative against a Reprobate Spirit. A Sermon preached at Blackheath." 8vo. 29 pp.

24. "The Serpent's Beguiling Eve explained, considered, and applied to all under Temptation. A Sermon preached at Blackheath, Newington," etc.[260] 8vo. 29 pp.

25. "The Folly and Danger of Parting with Christ for the Pleasures and Profits of Life. A Sermon preached at Kennington Common." 8vo. 33 pp.

26. "Christ the best Husband: or, an earnest Invitation to Young Women to come and see Christ. A Sermon preached to a Society of Young Women in Fetter Lane." 8vo. 28 pp.

27. "The Danger of Man resulting from Sin, and his Remedy by Christ considered. A Sermon preached on Kennington Common." 8vo. 34 pp.[261]

The whole of these twenty-seven publications were "printed for C. Whitefield, London."

From an account book, in which Whitefield entered the times and places of his ministerial labours, it appears that, during his remarkable career, he preached upwards of eighteen thousand sermons.[262] Of these, only eighty-one have been printed; and even this number includes eighteen preached during the last seven years of Whitefield's life, and which can hardly be regarded as authentic, inasmuch as they were taken in shorthand as delivered from the pulpit, and were printed without Whitefield's revision, consent, or knowledge. This reduces the number of his authentic discourses to sixty-three. By these, the public have been accustomed to form their opinions of Whitefield as a theologian and a preacher; and, because the sermons are, in many respects, exceedingly defective, the judgments pronounced respecting Whitefield's intellectual culture, biblical learning, and literary skill, have not been favourable. This is an unintended injustice to his character and fame. How stands the case?

During his lifetime, Whitefield prepared about sixty-three[297] of his sermons for the public press. Of these, twenty have been already noticed in the foregoing pages. Add to these the twenty-six sermons, included in the list just given, and all preached during the year 1739, and it will be found, that, of the sixty-three authentic sermons, printed in Whitefield's collected works, at least forty-six were preached, and committed to the press, before he was twenty-five years of age. Is it fair that Whitefield's sermonising abilities should be determined by these juvenile productions?

Want of space renders it impossible to enlarge upon the remaining twenty-six sermons not already noticed; and yet, as the year, in which these sermons were delivered, was, in many respects, the most important period of Whitefield's life, a few extracts, even at the expense of wearying the reader, must be given.

Spiritual Pride.—"To check all suggestions to spiritual pride, let us consider that we did not apprehend Christ, but were apprehended of Him; that we have nothing but what we have received; that the free grace of God has alone made the difference between us and others; that were God to leave us to the deceitfulness of our own hearts, but one moment, we should become weak and wicked like other men; that being proud of grace is the most ready way to lose it; and that were we endowed with the perfections of seraphims, if we were proud of those perfections, they would but render us more accomplished devils." (Sermon on Satan's Devices.)

Catholic Spirit.—"When we confine the Spirit of God to this or that particular church, and are not willing to converse with any but those of the same communion, this is to be righteous over-much with a witness; and so it is to confine our communion within church walls, and to think that Jesus could not be in a field, as well as on consecrated ground. This is Judaism; this is bigotry; this is like Peter, who would not go to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, till he had a vision sent from God. The Spirit of God is the centre of unity; and wherever I see the image of my Master, I never enquire of them their opinions: I ask them not what they are, so they love Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; but embrace them as my brother, my sister, and my spouse. This is the spirit of Christianity. Many persons who are bigots to this or that opinion, when one of a different way of thinking has come where they were, have left the room or place on that account. This is the spirit of the devil; and, if it were possible that these persons could be admitted into heaven with these tempers, that very place would be a hell to them. Christianity will never flourish till we are all of one heart and of one mind. This may be esteemed as enthusiasm and madness, and as a design to undermine the Established Church: no, God is my judge, I should rejoice to see all the world adhere[298] to her Articles. I am a friend to her Articles. I am a friend to her Homilies. I am a friend to her Liturgy; and, if they did not thrust me out of their churches, I would read them every day; but I do not confine the Spirit of God there, for, I say it again, I love all that love the Lord Jesus Christ." (Sermon on the Folly and Danger of not being Righteous enough.)

Innocent Diversions.—"They talk of innocent diversions and recreations. For my part, I know of no diversion but that of doing good. If you can find any diversion which is not contrary to your baptismal vow, of renouncing the pomps and vanities of this wicked world; if you can find any diversion which tends to the glory of God; if you can find any diversion which you would be willing to be found at by the Lord Jesus Christ, I give you my free license to go to them. But if, on the contrary, they are found to keep sinners from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ; if they are a means to harden the heart, and such as you would not willingly be found in when you come to die, then, my dear brethren, keep from them. Many of you may think I have gone too far, but I shall go a great deal farther yet. I will attack the devil in his strongest holds, and bear my testimony against our fashionable and polite entertainments. What pleasure is there in spending several hours at cards? Is it not misspending your precious time, which should be spent in working out your salvation with fear and trembling? Do play-houses, horse-racing, balls, and assemblies tend to promote the glory of God? Would you be willing to have your souls demanded of you while you are at one of those places? What good can come from a horse-race, from abusing God Almighty's creatures, and putting them to a use He never designed them? The play-houses are nurseries of debauchery, and the supporters of them are encouragers and promoters of all the evil that is done there. They are the bane of the age, and will be the destruction of the frequenters of them. Is it not high time for the true ministers of Jesus Christ to lift up their voices as a trumpet, and cry aloud against the diversions of the age? If you have tasted of the love of God, and have felt His power upon your souls, you would no more go to a play than you would run your heads into a furnace. And what occasions these places to be so much frequented is the clergy's making no scruple to be at these polite entertainments themselves. They frequent play-houses; they go to horse-races; they go to balls and assemblies; they frequent taverns, and follow all the entertainments that the age affords; and, yet, these are the persons who should advise their hearers to refrain from them. They always go disguised, for they are afraid of being seen in their gowns and cassocks; for their consciences inform them that it is not an example fit for the ministers of the gospel to set." (Ibid.)

"Those, my brethren, are not weary and heavy-laden with a sense of their sins, who can delight themselves in the polite entertainments of the age. Now they can go to balls and assemblies, play-houses and horse-racing. They have no thought of their sins. They know not what it is to weep for sin, or humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. They can laugh away their sorrows, and sing away their cares. They are[299] too polite to entertain any sad thoughts, and the talk of death and judgment is irksome to them, because it damps their mirth. They could not go to a play, and think of hell. They could not go quietly to a masquerade, and think of their danger. They could not go to a ball, if they thought of their sins. But, at the day of judgment, all will be over. All their carnal mirth, all their pleasure, all their delight, will be gone for ever. They think now that if they were to fast, or to pray, and meditate and mourn, they would be righteous over-much. Their lives would be a continual trouble, and it would make them mad. Alas! my brethren, what misery must that life be, where there are no more pleasant days, no more balls, or plays, no cards, or dice, no horse-racing, and cock-fighting! How miserable will your life be when all your joys are over, when your pleasures are all past, no more mirth, or pastime! Do you think, my brethren, there is one merry heart in hell? one pleasing countenance? or jesting, scoffing, swearing tongue? A sermon now is irksome. The offer of salvation, by the blood of Jesus Christ, is now termed enthusiasm; but there you would give a thousand worlds for one offer of mercy, which now you so much despise. Now you are not weary of your diversions, nor heavy-laden with the sins with which they are accompanied; but then you will be weary of your punishments. Your cards and dice, your hawks and hounds, your bowls and pleasant sports, will then be over! What mirth will you have in remembering them!" (Sermon on Christ the only Rest for the Weary and Heavy-laden.)

"What good can proceed from play-houses, where God is profaned, the devil honoured, your time misspent, your souls endangered? Dare any of you who profess Christianity, frequent these places? Would you be willing to be found at a play, or reading one, when God demands your souls? If so, why do not you, when upon a sick or dying bed, instead of sending for a minister to pray with you, send for a comedian to comfort you through the dark valley of the shadow of death? But though these things are so destructive, our learned Rabbins do not warn the people of their danger. No; they are too great frequenters of them themselves. If you come to hear a sermon, your families are ruined, they are neglected. This is the cry of the Pharisees of this generation; but if you spend six times the time at a play-house, at a ball, at an assembly, at cards, dice, or any of their polite entertainments, nothing is said then against ruining your families, or losing your business. But, my brethren, ask yourselves which will be best, at a dying hour, to think you spent so much time at a play, a ball, or a neighbouring place of vanity;[263] or of hearing the word of God from a poor despised field-preacher? from a mountebank? from a babbler, as the world is pleased to term me? You may call this enthusiasm, if you like; but I speak the truth, I lie not; these diversions, these innocent, polite, fashionable entertainments of the age, are only hurrying the infidels, who attend them, faster to hell. What is the common language of these polite entertainments, but the language of hell? What are their frequent prayers, but for damnation? Will these polite and fashionable entertainments[300] bring you to Jesus Christ? Will they make you sensible of the need you have of Him? Can you see the necessity of being born again, by following horse-racing, and by seeing a poor abused creature carrying its rider faster into hell? But what makes these places to be the more frequented, is, the clergy make no scruple about being there themselves. They neglect the work of their calling. Their sermons are but a week's study to please the ears of the people, or to advance their own reputation. If they were here, I, a boy, would tell them to their face that they do not preach the doctrines of the Reformation; that they feed not their hearers with food convenient for them. No: Seneca, Cicero, Plato, or any of the heathen philosophers would preach as good doctrine as we hear in most of our churches. Our ministers subscribe to their Articles, and think no more about them. They use them as a key to get preferment; and, when they have got it, they put the key into their pockets. Many, very many of our clergy, know no more of regeneration than Nicodemus did, when he came to Christ by night. To talk of feeling the Spirit of God, is esteemed as nonsense; and persons have been forbidden the sacrament only for reading my books; but, as my books and sermons are agreeable to the doctrines of Jesus Christ, I dare venture my salvation on the truth of them." (Sermon on the Polite and Fashionable Diversions of the Age.)[264]

"The clergy charge us with being over-righteous; but let them take care lest they are not over-remiss. Let them examine their own lives before they condemn others for enthusiasts. It is manifest that their actions are unbecoming of Christians, and more especially of ministers of the Church of England. They make no scruple of frequenting taverns and public-houses. They make no conscience of playing several hours at billiards, bowls, and other unlawful games, which they esteem as innocent diversions. Plurality of livings, and not the salvation of your souls, is the aim, the chief aim, of many, very many, of our present clergy. They have quite forsaken the good old way, and brought up a new one which their fathers knew not. They don't catechise. They don't visit from house to house. They don't watch over their flocks, by examining their lives. They keep up no constant religious conversation in families under their care. No, my brethren, these things are neglected; and if they were to be acted by any one, the person would be esteemed as an enthusiast, and as righteous over-much. We may justly cry to my letter-learned brethren, 'Physicians, heal yourselves.' Don't flatter yourselves that a long gown, and great preferment, authorise you to speak, write, or preach against the doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ. No, my letter-learned, pleasure-seeking brethren, Jesus Christ, at the day of judgment, will judge you, not as doctors and rulers, but by the deeds done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. At the great day, we shall all be upon a level. No distinction there! No difference there! If they had preached Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, I would not have opened my mouth against them; but when they exclaim, 'The[301] temple of the Lord! the temple of the Lord!' and are building up the temple of the devil, if I were not to preach, the very stones would cry out. They may thrust me out of their churches, but they cannot thrust me from the Church of Christ. They are welcome to say what they please of me. They may cast me out, and say all manner of evil against me; yea, they may put me to death; but as my day is, so my strength shall be. I have a gracious Master, and into His hands I commit myself, and leave all my affairs to His wise discretion." (Sermon on Jesus Christ the only Way of Salvation.)[265]

It would be easy to multiply extracts like these; but, to exhibit more fully the character of Whitefield's preaching, a few of another kind must be introduced.

Self-Righteousness.—"How many are there who go to church, and say their prayers, and receive the sacrament, and give alms to the poor, and then think themselves good Christians, because they have done so; and when we tell them that all this will not do, they immediately cry out, we are preaching them to despair. But, O good God! Thou knowest that I wish I could bring all men off from this undoing delusion, that will but betray them into everlasting misery. It is because I know such persons are more odious, in the sight of God, than the vilest sinners, that makes me so earnest in warning them of their guilt and danger; for I have more hope of common swearers, drunkards, fornicators, Sabbath-breakers, and harlots, and of deists and infidels, than I have of such self-righteous Pharisees. It is against these that almost all our Saviour's parables are levelled. If you depend upon your own duties, you are but Pharisees and hypocrites, for hypocrites may do all this as the Pharisees did. There is no doubt that you are to do your duty; but, if you depend upon your duties, you make a Saviour of them, and deny the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. You may go in an easy, decent, and polite way of religion, and obtain a reputation in the sight of men; but you are odious in the sight of God, and incarnate devils within." (Sermon on the Necessity of the Righteousness of Christ.)[266]

"O ye Pharisees, what fruits do ye bring forth? Why, you are moral, polite creatures. You do your endeavours, and Jesus is to make up the rest. You esteem yourselves fine, rational, and polite beings, and think it is too unfashionable to pray. It is not polite enough. Perhaps you have read some prayers, but knew not how to pray from your hearts. No, by no means! That was being righteous over-much! But if once, my brethren, you were sensible of your being lost, damned creatures, and see hell gaping ready to receive you, then, O then, you would cry earnestly unto the Lord to receive you, to open the door of mercy unto you. Your[302] tones would then be changed. You would no more flatter yourselves with your abilities and good wishes. No: you would see how unable you were to save yourselves; that there is no fitness, no free-will in you: no fitness but for eternal damnation; and no free-will but that of doing evil. Ye Pharisees, who are going about to establish your own righteousness; who are too polite to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth; who are all for a little show, a little outside work; who lead moral, civil, decent lives, Christ will not know you at the great day, but will say unto you, 'Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, unto that place of torment, prepared for the devil and his angels.' Good God! and must these discreet, polite creatures, who never did any one harm, but led such civil, decent lives, must they suffer the vengeance of eternal fire? Cannot their righteous souls be saved? Where then must the sinner and the ungodly appear?" (Sermon on Christ the only Rest for the Weary.)

Warnings.—"O the folly and madness of this sensual world! O consider this, you who think it no crime to swear, whore, drink, or scoff and jeer at the people of God,—consider how your voices will then be changed, and how you will howl and lament at your own madness and folly. He, who is now your merciful Saviour, will then be your inexorable Judge. Now He is easy to be entreated; then all your tears and prayers will be in vain. Your wealth and grandeur will stand you in no stead. You can carry nothing of these into the other world. What horror and astonishment will then possess your souls! Then all your lies and oaths, your scoffs and jeers at the people of God, all your filthy and unclean thoughts and actions, will be brought at once to your remembrance, and at once be charged upon your guilty souls." (Sermon on a New Heart, the best New-Year's Gift.)

"Alas! our great men had much rather spend their money in a play-house, at a ball, an assembly, or a masquerade, than in relieving a poor distressed servant of Jesus Christ. They had rather spend their estates on their hawks and hounds, on their whores, and on their earthly, sensual, and devilish pleasures, than in comforting, nourishing, or relieving one of their distressed fellow-creatures. But what difference is there between the king on the throne and the beggar on the dunghill, when God demands their breath? There is no difference in the grave. There will be none at the day of judgment. You will not be excused because you have had a great estate, and a fine house, and have lived in all the pleasures that earth could afford you. You will be judged not according to the largeness of your estate, but according to the use you have made of it." (Sermon on the great Duty of Charity recommended.)

"Sinners! how fearful soever you may be of appearing before this tribunal, you will be obliged to do it. Then you will call for the rocks and mountains to fall upon you, to hide you from the face of the Lord God. Then you will see Him whom your sins have pierced. Then you will be called to answer for your revilings and mockings against the people of God. Then it will plainly appear who are the enthusiasts, and who the madmen. Then we shall see who have been fools, and who were the fitter for Bedlam." (Sermon on the Serpent's beguiling Eve.)


"Oh! brethren, it is a certain, but an awful truth, that your souls will be thinking and immortal beings, even in spite of themselves. They may indeed torment, but they cannot destroy themselves. They can no more suspend their power of thought and perception, than a mirror its property of reflecting rays that fall upon its surface. Do you suspect the contrary? Make the trial immediately. Command your minds to cease from thinking but for one quarter of an hour. Can you succeed in that attempt? Or rather, does not thought press in with a more sensible violence on that resistance; just as an anxious desire to sleep makes us so much the more wakeful? Thus will thought follow you beyond the grave. Thus will it, as an unwelcome guest, force itself upon you, when it can serve only to perplex and distress you. It will for ever upbraid you, that notwithstanding the kind expostulations of God and man, notwithstanding the keen remonstrances of conscience, and the pleadings of the blood of Christ, you have gone on in your folly, till heaven is lost, and damnation incurred; and all for what? for a shadow and a dream!" (Sermon on the Care of the Soul urged as the One Thing Needful.)

Entreaties.—"You all, my brethren, must be born again. You must feel yourselves lost and undone in yourselves, or there is no salvation for you in the Lord Jesus Christ. Men may be angry with me for telling you these things, and may come and carry me to prison, or to death; but my inward satisfaction at having been made instrumental of bringing any poor sinners home to Jesus Christ, I esteem more than a balance for all that I can suffer: If this is to be vile, I beg of God I may be yet more vile. If this is to be mad, I pray God I may be yet more mad, in my Master's cause. Let His own will be done in me, with me, by me, and upon me, so I may not be brought as a witness against you in the great day. As this is my last time of speaking to you, in this place, I would invite you the more earnestly to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. O do not lay the blame of your perishing upon our doctrine. Do not lay the fault upon us; for the Lord now sends His servants to call and invite you to Him; and if you still refuse both Him and us, what must I say? I must appear in judgment against you; and, oh! what shall I say? The very thought, methinks, chills my blood." (Sermon on the Necessity of the Righteousness of Christ.)

"I come to you, not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but with plainness of speech. Perhaps many may slight me for this way of preaching; but I am not willing to go without you to Christ. It is a love for your better part that constrains me. O that I had ten thousand lives to give away, that I might win you to Christ! Had I the tongue of an angel, that I might speak so loud that the whole world could hear me, I would bid the Christian world preach a common salvation, a common Saviour, unto all who lay hold on Him by faith. Are you seeking where to wash? I tell you not to go to the river Jordan, but to the blood of Christ. You need not fear to go. Though He has given His grace to thousands, He has still enough. Come, ye publicans; come, ye harlots; come to Jesus Christ. O do not let me go without my errand. Do not force me to say, 'Who has believed my report?' I cannot bear the thought of it. I must[304] lift up my voice, like a trumpet, begging you to lay down your arms, and to return home, that your loving Father may dress you in His spotless robe. Come and see whether Christ will make ample recompence for all, for more than all this world can give. Consider, if you do not, your damnation is from yourselves. Must I weep over you, as our Saviour did over Jerusalem? I beseech you, by all that is good and dear to you, do not cast away your souls for ever. O mind, in this your day, the things that belong to your peace, before they are for ever hidden from your eyes. Could I speak with the tongues of men or angels, with all the rhetoric possible, I could never tell the worth of Christ. He is a good Master; indeed He is. I wish all that hear me this day would lay hold on Him, by faith, and take Him on His own terms. Do not be angry with me for my love. How glad would I be to bring some of you to God! Come! He calls you by His ministers. Bring your sins with you, that He may make you saints. He will sanctify all who believe on Him." (Sermon on Watching, the peculiar Duty of a Christian.)

"Come, come unto Him. If your souls were not immortal, and you in danger of losing them, I would not thus speak unto you; but the love of your souls constrains me to speak. Methinks, this would constrain me to speak unto you for ever. Come, all ye drunkards, swearers, Sabbath-breakers, adulterers, fornicators! Come, all ye scoffers, harlots, thieves, and murderers; and Jesus Christ will save you. He will give you rest, if you are weary of your sins." (Sermon on Christ the only Rest for the Weary.)

"O fly, fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you all to accept of Him. I offer Jesus Christ to the greatest profligate on earth. Surely, there are none can say, I preach damnation now. They cannot say I am sending you to hell now. No, my brethren, I preach salvation to all of you, who will come and accept the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! I know not how to leave you, without some hopes of your coming to Him." (Sermon on Polite and Fashionable Diversions.)

"The devil shews men the bait, but hides the hook. He promises great wages; but his wages are really death here, and eternal damnation hereafter. If you want to know more what wages the devil gives his servants, you need not stir from the place where you now are. Look yonder,[267] and there you will see how he pays them. He seeks your souls to destroy them; but, my brethren, fear him not. Though he is your enemy, he is a chained one. He can go no farther than he is permitted. He could not hurt a herd of swine, till he had leave of Jesus Christ." (Sermon on the Danger of Man resulting from Sin.)

These are long extracts, at the end of an inconveniently long chapter; but, it must be borne in mind, that, the fame of Whitefield chiefly rests on his character as a preacher; and that there are only thirty-five of his published sermons[305] which belong to dates subsequent to the year 1739; and that even more than half of these were taken from his lips, in shorthand, and printed without his revision or consent.

It is scarcely necessary to enlarge upon the foregoing extracts. The reader can form his own opinions of Whitefield's oratory, courage, tenderness, earnestness, and fidelity. He can also judge of the young preacher's imprudence, perhaps rudeness, in using language so violent concerning the clergy of the Established Church. One fact, however, must be noted. These sermons, as originally published, contain scarcely any allusion whatever to Calvinian tenets. Whitefield, no doubt, became a Calvinist; but this change in his theology did not occur, until he was about to embark, the second time, for Georgia. Indeed, though, in the seventeen sermons which remain unnoticed, and which were written and revised by Whitefield himself, there are passages embodying the doctrines of election and final perseverance; also passages on imputed righteousness and sinless perfection, propounding views not in harmony with those of his friend Wesley; yet such passages, comparatively speaking, are few in number, and are totally exempt from bitterness. It is also right to add, that, Whitefield's Calvinism never interfered with his warmhearted declarations concerning the universality of redeeming love, and the willingness of Christ to save all who come to Him. Doubtless there was some degree of inconsistency in this; but it only shews that the man's heart was larger than his creed.

Excepting two or three, there is nothing in the remaining seventeen sermons just mentioned which requires further notice. They are, however, in most respects, his ablest and his best. There is less incoherency of thought and language. There is an entire absence of attacks on the clergy of the Church of England. The style is more polished; the sentences more finished. There is more biblical and anecdotal illustration. And there is a greater depth of religious feeling and experience.

Excellent, however, as these sermons are, they necessarily fail to convey a full idea of Whitefield's marvellous preaching power. His words could be printed, but not his intonations, action, tears, smiles, solemnity, and pathos. Whitefield was[306] born an orator. His oratory was the gift of his Creator. He could not be natural without using it. To have laid it aside would have been affectation. His oratory, however, is a thing not to be seen in his published sermons, but to be imagined. There was eloquence in his very attitudes, in the accents of his voice, in his gestures, in the features of his face, and in the motions of his hands. These things could not be printed. To say nothing of his almost unequalled voice, his versatility was wonderful. At will, he could be a Boanerges, or a Barnabas. One moment, he would thunder on Mount Sinai; the next, would whisper mercy on Mount Calvary. At all times, he was inexpressibly earnest, and his hearers felt he believed the truths he uttered. A writer, in the New York Observer, eloquently observes:—

"We read Whitefield's printed sermons, and they disappoint us. Of all men in the world, he was the last who should have published his sermons. So much did he owe to physical temperament, to the volume and varied intonations of his voice, to the irrepressible fires of a soul all alive to the grand and overpowering visions of divine truth, to a sort of inspiration kindled by the sight of thousands whose eyes were ready to weep and whose hearts were ready to break the moment his clarion voice rang out on their expectant ears—so much did he owe to these circumstances, that his eloquence cannot be appreciated by any account of it which can be given verbally, or be delineated on paper. Vain is it, therefore, to look into his printed sermons to find his power. His power as a pulpit orator, also, cannot be separated from his pious emotions, nor from his religious views. Had he embraced a theory of religion less emotional, more after the pattern of rationalists or ritualists, his eloquence would have been lost to the world. Never would his soul have taken fire, nor his lips glowed with the burning coal of enthusiastic passion. But he believed in man's ruin by sin, in the certain interminable woe that awaited the impenitent; in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, and the free offer of salvation through faith in the cross. Such were his views, and, under these convictions, he looked upon his audiences. He saw but one hope set before them, and with his whole soul moved and melted by the love of Christ on the one hand, and the love of souls on the other, he pressed every hearer, with all the energy of a dying man speaking to dying men, to accept the great salvation. Nor do we think that the pulpit can reach its appropriate power, nor for any length of time retain it, unless these grand cardinal doctrines of grace are the inspiring themes."

These remarks are as just as they are eloquent; but it is now time to follow Whitefield in his transatlantic wanderings.



August 1739 to March 1741.

Marvellous were the scenes which Whitefield had witnessed during the last few months. If ministerial success were a proof that the man thus honoured ought to remain where he is, Whitefield ought to have remained in England. He had, however, formally accepted the distant living of Savannah. The Trustees of Georgia had cheerfully acceded to all his wishes. He had collected considerable sums of money for the erection of his contemplated Orphanage. He had promised the people of Savannah that he would return to them. People on both sides the Atlantic expected this. On the other hand, and despite the ribald persecutions to which he had been subjected, he had strong inducements to stay at home. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, during the last half-year, had been converted by his ministry, and needed pastoral attention. The crowds that flocked to hear him had not at all diminished, but were as great as ever. Multitudes wished to keep him. To fill his place was extremely difficult, perhaps impossible. But solemn promises had been made; and, in accordance with these, public, as well as private, arrangements had taken place; all rendering a return to Georgia an imperative necessity. No doubt, Whitefield was anxious that the great work, which had been begun in London and elsewhere, should be conserved, and be carried on; and he seems to have requested Charles Wesley to act as his successor. At all events, Charles wrote as follows:—

"August 10, 1739.

Dear George,—I forgot to mention the most material occurrence at Plaistow; namely, that a clergyman was there convinced of sin. He stood[308] under me, and appeared, throughout my discourse, under the strongest perturbation of mind. In our return, we were much delighted with an old spiritual Quaker, who is clear in justification by faith only. At Marylebone, a footman was convinced of more than sin; and now waits with confidence for all the power of faith. Friend Keen seems to have experience, and is right in the foundation.

"I cannot preach out on the week-days, for the expense of coach; nor accept of dear Mr. Seward's offer; to which I should be less backward, would he take my advice. But while he is so lavish of his Lord's goods, I cannot consent that this ruin should, in any degree, seem to be under my hand.

"I am continually tempted to leave off preaching, and hide myself like J. Hutchins. I should then be freer from temptation, and at leisure to attend to my own improvement. God continues to work by me, but not in me, that I can perceive. Do not reckon upon me, my brother, in the work God is doing: for I cannot expect He should long employ one who is ever longing and murmuring to be discharged. I rejoice in your success, and pray for its increase a thousand-fold."[268]

Four days after the date of this letter, Whitefield embarked for America. His party consisted of seventeen persons, including Mr. Seward and himself.[269] One of these was Joseph Periam, whom Whitefield had rescued from a madhouse. Another was Mr. Gladman, a captain, whose ship, during Whitefield's first visit to America, had been thrown upon a sandbank, near the Gulf of Florida, where he and his crew had to exist, as they best could, for thirty days, when they launched a raft; and, after floating about a hundred and forty leagues, came to Tybee Island, near Savannah. Whitefield shewed the captain kindness. They returned to England in the same ship. The man was converted. Many situations were offered him; but he declined them all, gave himself to the work of God, and was now one of Whitefield's companions to Georgia.

The voyage was of eleven weeks' continuance; but was not marked by any notable occurrence. Whitefield had public prayers twice a day. On Sundays, he preached and administered the sacrament. Sometimes, he and his friends held a love-feast; and, on several occasions, he allowed a[309] Quaker to preach in his cabin. Often he suffered deep depression, and was profoundly humbled by revelations of his sinfulness in the sight of God. A large portion of his time was spent in writing letters, so that, when he landed, he had more than sixty ready for the post.

One of these, now for the first time published, was addressed to Mr. Blackwell, the Lombard Street banker:—[270]

"On Board the 'Elizabeth,' going to the Downs,

"August 16, 1739.

"Dear Mr. Blackwell,—I must write you, though so lately parted from you. I know the temptations which surround you. If I love you, I must watch over your soul. Perhaps, ere now, your father is launched into eternity. Yet a little while, you and I must follow. Oh, let us live the life of the righteous, that our future state may be like his. Nothing but a living faith in Jesus Christ can support us in a dying hour. What would the self-righteous Pharisees of this generation give for this pearl of inestimable price when God takes away their souls? Oh, my dear friend, it is worth being laughed at. It is worth ten thousand worlds. You will not think much then of renouncing one world for it. You have put your hand to the plough: I know you will scorn to look back. Your carnal relatives will do their utmost to make you ashamed of the cross of Christ; but be not ashamed of it, for it is the power of God unto salvation. Neither be ashamed of His disciples, though men of low degree, and accounted fools for His sake. No, rather choose to suffer affliction with His people; for, if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. Oh, let your delight be with the saints that are in the earth, and with them that excel in virtue. You are blessed with many such. I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. And, as in my presence, so in my absence, see that you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Let Jesus Christ be the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all your thoughts, words, and actions. Suffer Him to work His whole will in, by, and upon you. And fail not writing to, and praying for,

"Ever, ever yours,
"George Whitefield."

Extracts from a few other letters, written during the voyage to America, may be useful. The first was addressed to Charles Wesley:—

"Honoured and dear Sir,—God has been pleased to send us a comfortable passage. The Orphan House accounts come right within 10.

I have great assurances given me that it will be a Pietas Georgiensis, equally remarkable with the Pietas Hallensis. I shall continue in Georgia[310] above six months. If Mr. Hutchins would come to supply my place, I would keep the parsonage of Savannah. Otherwise, I will resign all but the Orphan House. I have read Guise and Doddridge on the Evangelists, and written to both. The former I think excellent; the latter, ingenious, elaborate, but too superficial. Neal's 'Lives of the Puritans' have been of use. I think they held the truth as it is in Jesus. The Quakers have set us an example of patient, resolute suffering, as the best means to weary our enemies. I want the Lives of Luther and Calvin, to get some short account of the history of the Reformation. At my return, I trust I shall speak boldly, as I ought to speak. The account of my infant years was written by the will of God. Pray, let it be published, without any material diminution or addition. He who hideth his sins shall not prosper. My Letter to the Religious Societies I give to the schools at Bristol. The Lord prosper the work of your hands upon you! I have written to the Bishop of Gloucester, and have delivered my soul, by meekly telling him of his faults. I long to hear how affairs go on in England. Are you yet the Lord's prisoner? If they make any laws whatsoever, I trust notwithstanding I shall preach with all boldness. Oh, dear sir, pray publicly, as well as in private, for your unworthy, loving servant,

"George Whitefield."[271]

To other friends, Whitefield wrote:—

"Our ship is now going to the Downs. God strengthens me mightily in the inner man. The sermon I have sent you is one of my extempore sermons. My brother, the captain, has been with me this last week. If he leaves off disputing, and will come to Christ as a poor lost sinner, he will do well. The Bishop of London has lately written against me. I trust God has assisted me in writing an answer. It is now (August 14) in the press. All the self-righteous are up in arms. My Master makes me more than a conqueror through His love. Mr. Ingham has about forty Societies in Yorkshire. Both the Mr. Wesleys go on well. Go where you will, religion (either for or against it) is the talk. Probably a suffering time will come. You will not be ashamed of me, though I should be a prisoner. Soon after this reaches Georgia, I hope to see you. My stay will be as short as possible at Philadelphia. I must not delay coming to my dear, though poor, charge. I expect to find Savannah almost desolate;[272] but our extremity is God's opportunity. I believe it will lift up its drooping head."

"I thank God for His goodness to brother Howell Harris. The storm is diverted for a while, but I expect it to break upon my head one time or another. God has, for a while, prepared me a place of refuge in the ship from whence I write this. I have almost forgotten that I was in the[311] world. My family on board is quite settled, and we live and love like Christians. I am now reading the 'Book of Martyrs.' They make me blush to think how little I suffer for Christ's sake. They warm my heart, and make me think the time long till I am called to resist even unto blood. But I fear the treachery of this heart of mine."

"Since my retirement from the world, I have seen more and more how full I am of corruption. Nothing could possibly support my soul under the many agonies which oppress me, but a consideration of the freeness, eternity, and unchangeableness of God's love to me, the chief of sinners. In about a twelvemonth, probably, I shall return again to my native country. Satan, no doubt, will endeavour to stir up all his forces against me. By the help of my God, I will once more come forth with my sling and my stone. I shall wait with impatience to hear how the work goes on in my absence. I trust God, by this time (Nov. 10), has sent more labourers into His harvest. I verily believe the right hand of the Lord will bring mighty things to pass. O how do I long to see bigotry and party-zeal taken away, and all the Lord's servants more knit together!"

"Reverend and dear Sir,—When with you last, I thought you spoke too favourably of horse-races and such things. But what diversion ought a Christian or a clergyman to know, or speak of, but that of doing good? Many who are right in their principles, are worse than I could wish in their practice. O for a revival of true and undefiled religion in all sects whatsoever! I long to see a catholic spirit overspread the world. May God vouchsafe to make me an instrument in promoting it! Methinks, I care not what I do or suffer, so that I may see my Lord's kingdom come with power."

The following is taken from a letter to the Erskines and their confederates in Scotland:—

"Though I know none of you in person, yet, from the time I heard of your faith and love towards our dear Lord Jesus, I have been acquainted with you in spirit, and have constantly mentioned you in my poor prayers. I find the good pleasure of the Lord prospers in your hands; and I pray God to increase you more and more. Scotland, like England, has been so much settled upon its lees for some time, that I fear our late days may properly be called the midnight of the Church. I cannot but think a winnowing time will come after this ingathering of souls. O that we may suffer only as Christians, and then the Spirit of Christ and of glory will rest upon us. In patience possess your souls. I will leave my cause to God. The eternal God will be your perpetual refuge. He who employs will protect. As your day is, so shall your strength be."[273]


Other friends were addressed as follows:—

"The innumerable temptations, that attend a popular life, sometimes make me think it would be best for me to withdraw. But then, I consider that He who delivered Daniel out of the den of lions, and the three children out of the fiery furnace, is able and willing to deliver me also out of the fiery furnace of popularity and applause, and from the fury of those, who, for preaching Christ and Him crucified, are my inveterate enemies. In His strength, therefore, and at His command, when His providence shall call, I will venture out again. As yet, my trials have been nothing. Hereafter, a winnowing time may come; and then we shall see who is on the Lord's side, and who dare to confess Christ before men."

"Reverend and dear Sir,—The Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it. It would rejoice me to hear of your success in the Lord. In about a twelvemonth, I purpose to return to England. I long to die unto myself, and to be alive unto God. Methinks, I would always be upon the wing; but, alas! I have a body of sin, which, at times, makes me cry out, 'Who shall deliver me?' I thank God, our Lord Jesus Christ will deliver. But I never expect entire freedom till I bow down my head, and give up the ghost. Every fresh employ, I find, brings with it fresh temptations. God always humbles before He exalts me. Sometimes I speak and write freely, at other times I am comparatively barren; one while on the mount, another while overshadowed with a cloud; but, blessed be God! at all times, at peace with Him, and assured that my sins are forgiven. I want to leap my seventy years. I long to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. But I must be made perfect by sufferings. I expect no other preferment."

In a letter to Mr. Hutchins, one of the Oxford Methodists, Whitefield wrote:—

"And how does my dear Mr. Hutchins? Is he yet commenced a field-preacher? I am persuaded my dear friend is under the guidance of God's Spirit, and, therefore, am convinced he will be directed for the best. Ere now, I trust, he has been upon many a mount, stretching out his hands, and inviting all that are weary and heavy-laden to come to Jesus Christ. In about a twelvemonth, I think of returning to England. I should rejoice if you would come and supply my place at Savannah. If not, I must resign the parsonage, and take upon me only the care of the orphans. I intend bringing up two or three, who are with me, for the ministry: more, no doubt, will shortly be added to their number. If you could come and teach them the languages, for an hour or two in the day,[313] we could serve both the Orphan House and Parsonage together. Great things I trust will come out of Georgia."

"I know so much of the corruption of my heart, that, were God to leave me to myself but one moment, I should with oaths and curses deny my Master. As for my final perseverance, I bless God, I have not the least doubt thereof. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Whom He loves, I am persuaded, He loves to the end. But then, I fear lest, being puffed up with abundance of success, I should provoke the Lord to let me fall into some heinous sin, and thereby give His adversaries reason to rejoice. A public life is attended with innumerable snares; and a sense of my unworthiness and unfitness so weighs me down, that I have often thought it would be best for me to retire. But I know these are all suggestions of the enemy. Why should I distrust Omnipotence? Having had a legion of devils cast out of my heart by the power of Christ, why should I not tell what He hath done for my soul, for the encouragement of others? By the help of God, I will speak. The more Satan bids me hold my peace, the more earnestly will I proclaim to believing saints, that Jesus will have mercy on them. Oh! had I a thousand lives, my dear Lord Jesus should have them all."

The following seems to have been written to certain students at Oxford:—

"Look round, look round, my brethren, and, in imitation of your common Lord, weep over the desolations of the University wherein you live. Alas! how is that once faithful city become a harlot! Have pity upon her, ye that are friends; and, whatever treatment you may meet with from an ungrateful world, endeavour to rescue some of her sons out of that blindness, ignorance, bigotry, and formality, into which she is unhappily fallen. Arise, ye sons of the prophets. Shine forth, ye who are appointed to be the lights of the world. The rulers of this world will endeavour to put you under bushels; but, if your light is of God's kindling, all the devils in hell shall not be able to extinguish it. How will you be apt to teach hereafter, unless you begin to teach now? All God's people will wish you God speed. I am sure I do with all my heart."

The next extract is from a letter addressed to the students of a Dissenting college—perhaps Dr. Doddridge's:—

"As God has been pleased to bless my ministry to your souls, I think it my duty to watch over you for good. I heartily pray that you may be burning and shining lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Though you are not of the Church of England, yet, if you are persuaded in your own minds of the truth of the way wherein you walk, I leave it. Whether Conformists or Nonconformists, our main concern should be, to be assured that we are called and taught of God; for none but such are fit to minister in holy things. It rejoiced me much to see such dawnings of grace in your souls; only I thought most of you were bowed down too much with a servile fear of man: but, as the love of the Creator increases, the fear of the creature will decrease. Unless your[314] hearts are free from worldly hopes and worldly fears, you will never speak boldly, as you ought to speak. The good old Puritans, I believe, never preached better than when in danger of being taken to prison as soon as they had finished their sermons; and, I am persuaded, unless you go forth with the same temper, you will never preach with the same demonstration of the Spirit, and of power. Study your hearts as well as books. Ask yourselves, again and again, whether you would preach for Christ, if you were sure to lay down your lives for so doing. But enough of this. I love to hope well of you all."

The following was addressed to Howell Harris, and shews that Whitefield was now a Calvinist. While Harris was preaching at Pontypool, in the month of June, an officious official came and read the Riot Act, though there was not the least likelihood of a riot taking place. Harris asked him if he was accustomed to read the Act at "cock-matches"? This increased the man's anger, and Harris was arrested, carried before a magistrate, and committed for trial, at Monmouth Assizes, in August following. Having procured bail for his appearance, he surrendered himself at the proper time; but no evidence whatever was produced against him, and, of course, he was dismissed.

"I congratulate you on your success at Monmouth. God has yet further work for you to do, ere you are called before rulers and governors, for His name's sake. In about a twelvemonth, I hope to make a second use of your field-pulpits. Our principles agree, as face answers to face in the water. Since I saw you, God has been pleased to enlighten me more in that comfortable doctrine of election, etc. At my return, I hope to be more explicit than I have been. God forbid, my dear brother, that we should shun to declare the whole counsel of God!"

The next extract also expresses the same sentiments:—

"What was there in you, and in me, that should move God to choose us before others? Was there any fitness foreseen in us, except a fitness for damnation? I believe not. No, God chose us from eternity; He called us in time; and, I am persuaded, will keep us from falling finally, till time shall be no more. Consider the gospel in this view, and it appears a consistent scheme."

In a letter to Hervey, Whitefield wrote:—

"The many happy hours I spent with you at Oxon, and the benefit I have received from your instructions and example, are yet fresh upon my memory. I long to have my dear friend come forth and preach the truth as it is in Jesus. Not a righteousness or inward holiness of our[315] own, whereby we may make ourselves meet, but the righteousness of another, even the Lord our righteousness; upon the imputation and apprehending of which by faith, we shall be made meet, by His Holy Spirit, to live with, and to enjoy God. Let me advise dear Mr. Hervey to lay aside all prejudice, and to read and pray over St. Paul's Epistles to the Romans and Galatians; and then let him tell me what he thinks of this doctrine. Most of your old friends are now happily enlightened. God sets His seal to such preaching in an extraordinary manner, and, I am persuaded, the gates of hell shall never be able to prevail against it. O that dear Mr. Hervey would also join with us! O that the Lord would open his eyes to behold aright this part of the mystery of godliness! How would it rejoice my heart! how would it comfort his own soul! I have written to dear Mr. Orchard,[274] as well as to you, out of the simplicity of my heart."

The following refers to the painful mental exercises through which Whitefield passed during his voyage to America:—

"The Searcher of all hearts alone knows what agonies of soul I have undergone since my retirement from the world. The remembrance of my past sins has overwhelmed me, and caused tears to be my meat day and night. Indeed, I have mourned as one mourneth for a firstborn; but I looked to Him whom I have pierced. I was enabled to see the freeness and riches of His grace, the infiniteness and eternity of His love; and my soul received comfort. O the excellency of the doctrine of election, and of the saints' final perseverance, to those who are sealed by the Spirit of promise! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come out of himself; but, when convinced of these, and assured of the application of them to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed, not in himself, but in the Son of God, who died and gave Himself for him."

The next extract is from a letter to the father of Joseph Periam, whose incarceration in a madhouse has been already mentioned:—

"Though unknown to you in person, yet, as you were pleased to think me worthy of the care of your dear son, I think it my duty to acquaint you of his welfare. I bless God that he came with me. He is diligent and pious, and, I trust, will be a comfort to you in your declining years. His mind seems settled and composed; and, by reading and following the Bible, he is a partaker of that peace which the world cannot give. His dear and honoured father is much upon his heart. How would it rejoice him to hear that you also were become a Christian indeed! Be not offended, dear sir, at my expressing myself thus. Christianity is more[316] than a name and a bare outward profession. Morality of itself will never carry us to heaven. No, Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no being happy without a lively faith in Him, wrought in the heart by the blessed Spirit of God. This faith transforms the whole man, delivers him from the tyranny of his passions, and makes him entirely a new creature. This is the reason why it is foolishness to the world. Your son's case, in this respect, was not singular. As soon as ever we commence Christians, we commence fools for Christ's sake. Every truly religious man must be deemed a madman."[275]

In the month of June, 1739, in a letter to a friend, Wesley made use of the memorable declaration, which has been quoted times without number, "I look upon all the world as my parish." In the following extract, Whitefield employs the same expression, thus shewing that it was not peculiar to Wesley, but common among the Oxford Methodists:—

"The whole world is now my parish. Wheresoever my Master calls me, I am ready to go and preach His everlasting gospel. My only grief is that I cannot do more for Christ. I ought to love and do much, having had so much forgiven. Oh pray, dear sir, that I may never be weary in well-doing."

In the following paragraph Whitefield shews his intention in reference to the parish of Savannah:—

"I intend resigning the parsonage of Savannah. The Orphan House I can take care of, supposing I should be kept at a distance. Besides, when I have resigned the parish, I shall be more at liberty to make a tour round America, if God should ever call me to such a work. However, I determine nothing; I wait on the Lord. I am persuaded He will shew me what is His will. How earnestly do I desire to be dissolved, that I may be with Christ! Sometimes, my weak body gives me hopes that I shall not be long in the flesh; but then, the strength that is communicated to me, and the consideration that I have but just begun my testimony, fill me with fears, lest I should live to be grey-headed. But I endeavour to resign myself wholly to God. If He preserves me from falling into sin, and from dishonouring His holy name, let Him do what seemeth Him good with me."

These extracts are "odds and ends;" but they are useful, as unfolding Whitefield's character and principles, his opinions and intentions, the state of his mind and heart, after his[317] wondrous services in England, and during his voyage to America. Another letter, or rather pastoral epistle, written at this period, demands a more lengthened notice. It was published soon afterwards, with the following title: "A Letter from the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, to the Religious Societies lately set on foot in several parts of England and Wales. Wrote on board the Elizabeth, Captain Stevenson, during the voyage to Philadelphia, 1739. Edinburgh: printed for James Beugo, Bookseller, in Dumferling, 1740."[276] (26 pp.) Whitefield had been closely associated with these Societies in London, Bristol, and elsewhere; he highly approved of them; and it was natural to expect that he would take a profound interest in their continued existence and prosperity. The reader must be content with short extracts from this long epistle.

Legality of the Religious Societies.—"If you fear God, and truly honour the king, and are of the number of those who are quiet in the land, no reason can be urged against your Societies. In this respect, a private prelate has no more authority than a private presbyter. If it be lawful for more than five to meet in a private vestry, it is equally lawful for more than five to meet in a private house; as is the practice of some of the Societies, who are under the government of those called the Twelve Stewards. If it be enquired of you, 'By what authority you sometimes pray without a premeditated form of words?' you may enquire, 'By what authority any one reads the Church Forms, who is not commissioned so to do, and that in any place but in the church, where only they are appointed to be read, and only by one so commissioned?' If they reply, 'You have Dr. Woodward's Form;' you may answer them with this question, 'What difference is there, in respect to others, between a person's reading a form, which few who hear it know beforehand, and a person's praying extempore, as the Holy Spirit gives him utterance?' If they[318] laugh at the mention of 'praying by the Spirit,' I hope you know better. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free; and be not afraid to make innovations in the Church, which does not confine its members to forms, except within the walls of the church, nor even there altogether."

Admission of new members.—"You ought to be very cautious whom you admit into fellowship with you. Examine them again and again, not barely whether they receive the sacrament, and go to church, but whether they be in the faith. Set them upon proving their own selves; and by no means receive them into your brotherhood, unless they can produce sufficient evidences of their having tasted the good word of life, and felt the powers of the world to come. Some may object that this is not a very good way to increase and multiply you as to number; but it is the best, the only way, to establish and increase a communion of true saints. Such a Society, consisting of a few solid Christians, is far preferable to one that is filled with a multitude of such as do not bring forth fruit unto holiness, but have only the fig-leaves of an outward profession. Formal hypocrites will do any Society more harm than good."

Object of their meetings.—"The end of your meeting is not that you may think yourselves more holy than your neighbours, much less to form a sect or party, or to promote a schism or sedition in the Church or State. No: such thoughts, I trust, are far from you; for they are earthly, sensual, devilish. The only end which I hope you all propose by your assembling yourselves together, is the renewing of your depraved natures, and promoting the hidden life of Jesus Christ in your souls."

Doctrine.—"I think it my bounden duty to exhort you to contend earnestly for the doctrine of justification by faith only, because so many blind guides are lately gone out into the world. It is much to be feared that many of our present preachers are no better than doctrinal papists. One of the most reputed orthodox prelates in the kingdom, in a late pastoral letter, advises his clergy, 'so to explain the doctrine of justification in the sight of God by faith only, as to make good works a necessary condition.' Such advice from a Roman cardinal would be no more than we might expect; but, coming from a bishop of the Church of England, is surprising, and much to be lamented. God forbid that you should so learn Christ! No, my brethren, in the great mystery of man's redemption by Jesus Christ, boasting is entirely excluded. We must not expect to be saved, or in any way to recommend ourselves to God, by any or all the works of righteousness which we have done, or shall, or can do. The Lord Christ is our righteousness, our whole righteousness—imputed to us, instead of our own. 'We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith,' saith the eleventh article of our Church. Observe, my brethren, justified by or through faith, and not for faith; for faith is only a means or instrument whereby the whole righteousness of Jesus Christ is applied to the sinner's soul. Whosoever thus believes may be assured that his pardon is sealed in heaven, notwithstanding he has lived in an open breach of God's commandments all his lifetime before. This faith, however,[319] will not be dead, idle, or inactive; for it is not a faith of the head, or a bare assent to things credible as credible; the devils thus believe and tremble; but it is a faith of the heart, a living principle of new life, infused into the soul by the Spirit of God, applying that inwardly, which was wrought for him outwardly by the obedience and death of Jesus Christ, and continually exciting the possessor of it to shew it forth by his works; not as necessary conditions, but as proofs of his justification in the sight of God; and as so many tokens of his gratitude and love for what God has done for his soul."

Christian fellowship.—"Content not yourselves with reading, singing, and praying together; but set some time apart to confess your faults, and to communicate your experience one to another. For want of this, (which I take to be one chief design of private meetings), most of the old Societies in London, I fear, are sunk into a dead formality, and have only a name to live. They meet on a Sabbath evening, read a chapter, and sing a psalm; but seldom, if ever, acquaint each other with the operations of God's Spirit upon their souls; notwithstanding this was the great end of those who first began these Societies. Hence it is, that, they have only the form of godliness left amongst them, and continue utter strangers to the state of one another's hearts. My brethren, let not your coming together be thus altogether in vain, but plainly and freely tell one another what God has done for your souls. To this end, you would do well, as others have done, to form yourselves into little companies of four or five each, and meet once a week to tell each other what is in your hearts; that you may then also pray for, and comfort each other, as need shall require. None but those who have experienced it, can tell the unspeakable advantages of such a union and communion of souls. I know not a better means in the world to keep hypocrisy out from amongst you. Pharisees and unbelievers will pray, read, and sing psalms; but none, save an Israelite indeed, will endure to have his heart searched out."

Counsels like these are always in season. Whitefield never instituted class-meetings, in the same sense as his friend Wesley did; but he strenuously urged the use of that Christian fellowship, which was the chief object of such meetings when they were first commenced. The reader will do well, in this age of ritualistic formality, to ponder some of the points in Whitefield's "Letter to the Religious Societies of England, in 1739."

Enough has been written to shew the views and feelings with which Whitefield returned to America, in 1739. He, William Seward, and another friend, landed at Lewis Town, about a hundred and fifty miles from Philadelphia, on October 30. He writes:—


"God is the great householder of the whole world, and I look upon all persons as so many parts of His great family. As there is here the same sun, so there is here the same God—in America as in England. I would have all places alike to me, so I am where God would have me to be; but I hope I shall never account myself at home till I arrive at my heavenly Father's house above. I trust my heart is there already. Oh, when shall I shake off this earthly tabernacle! It sadly confines my soul. Lord, help me patiently to tarry till my blessed change comes!"

Next day the young evangelist, by request, preached "to a serious and attentive congregation;" and, at five in the afternoon, he and his two friends set out for Philadelphia, the place to which the ship, they had left, was bound. After a ride of twenty-seven miles through the woods, they came, at ten o'clock at night, to what was called a tavern. The host and hostess made them a cake of unleavened bread, and set before them a few eggs and a little cider, and they went to bed rejoicing.

The day following, they rode fifty miles, and "came to a more convenient inn." Whitefield says, "Our Lord comforted us as we came on our way; and our hearts burned within us whilst we talked to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs."

On the third day, they reached Philadelphia, where the Elizabeth, with what Whitefield calls his "family," had arrived in safety.

Pennsylvania, of which Philadelphia was the capital, was an English settlement about two hundred and fifty miles in length, and nearly the same in breadth.[277] As is well known, this large extent of territory had been granted to William Penn, the Quaker, about sixty years previous to Whitefield's visit. In 1682, Penn began to found his important colony. The soil, in general, was extremely fertile. Game of all kinds was amazingly plentiful. Deer, hares, turkeys, pheasants, partridges, wild ducks, wild geese, swans, and pigeons, were innumerable. In the immense forests, were bears, panthers, wild cats, and wolves; while, in the low grounds, were found minks, musk rats, and opossums. The woods consisted of the oak, the ash, the beech, the chestnut, the cedar, the walnut, the cypress, the hickory, the sassafras, and the pine,—all of which, in many instances, were gracefully[321] festooned with vines. Fruits, including apples, cherries, pears, peaches, plums, and melons, grew in rich abundance. Penn's colony originally consisted chiefly of English Quakers, who, in consequence of their refusing to pay tithes and church dues, had frequently found themselves the inmates of English prisons. These, together with a few Dutch and Swedish settlers already on the ground, began to transform this glorious wilderness into a cultivated land. The Indians—the original proprietors—were treated with justice and kindness. Religious and civil freedom was made the basis of government. All persons professing to believe in one God were freely tolerated; and all who professed to believe in Jesus Christ, of whatever denomination, were eligible for government posts and offices. The result was, emigrants and refugees, of all persuasions, flocked to Pennsylvania, to put themselves under the protection of its founder's laws; lands were cultivated; towns were built; and when Penn died, about twenty years before Whitefield's first visit, the colony was, in every sense, free and flourishing.

In 1739, the population of Pennsylvania was probably not more than from fifty to a hundred thousand,[278] and consisted of Quakers, Episcopalians, Calvinists, Lutherans, Independents, Baptists, Presbyterians, and "Dumplers, a sort of German sect, who wore long beards and a habit resembling that of Friars." As might be expected, governmental power was chiefly in the hands of Quakers, and, with rare exceptions, it was humanely exercised.

Philadelphia, the chief town of the colony, stood upon a neck of land, immediately at the confluence of the rivers Delaware and Schuylkill. It was planned in an oblong form, and designed to extend two miles, from river to river There were to be eight parallel streets, all two miles in length, to be intersected by sixteen others, each in length a mile, and all of them broad, spacious, and even; with proper spaces left for the public buildings, churches, and market places. In the centre was a square of ten acres. The two[322] principal streets were each one hundred feet wide; and most of the houses had a small garden and orchard attached to them. When William Penn began his work in 1682, Philadelphia consisted of three or four insignificant cottages. "Conies were yet undisturbed in their hereditary burrows; the deer fearlessly bounded past blazed trees, unconscious of foreboded streets; and the stranger that wandered from the river bank was lost in the thickets of an interminable forest. Two years afterwards, the place contained about six hundred houses, and the schoolmaster and the printing-press had begun their work."[279] In 1761, the population of Philadelphia was about 13,000.[280]

The state of religion, in Pennsylvania, was lamentable. The Rev. Samuel Blair, a Presbyterian minister, living at the time, observes:—

"There were some sincerely religious people, and a considerable number pretty exact in the observance of the external forms of religion; but with this, the most part seemed to rest contented, and to satisfy their consciences with a dead formality. A lamentable ignorance of the main essentials of true practical religion, and the doctrines relating thereto, generally prevailed. The nature and necessity of the new birth were but little known or thought of. The necessity of a conviction of sin and misery, in order to a saving closure with Christ, was hardly known at all. It was thought that, if there was any need of a heart-distressing sight of the soul's danger, it was only needful for the grosser sort of sinners; and for any others to be thus deeply exercised, was generally looked upon to be a great evil and temptation. There was scarcely any suspicion of the danger of depending upon self-righteousness, and not upon the righteousness of Christ alone, for salvation. The necessity of being first in Christ by a vital union, and in a justified state, before our religious services can be well-pleasing and acceptable to God, was very little understood. The common notion seemed to be, that, if people were aiming to be in the way of duty as well as they could, there was no reason to be much afraid. According to these principles, people generally were careless at heart, and stupidly indifferent about the great concerns of eternity. It was sad to see with what a careless behaviour the public ordinances were attended, and how people were given to worldly discourse on the Lord's-day. In public companies, a vain and frothy lightness was apparent in the deportment of many professors. Religion, as it were, lay a-dying, and ready to expire its last breath of life in this part of the visible church."[281]


It is hoped that this brief account of Pennsylvania will not be thought irrelevant. It was here that Whitefield began his itinerant career in England's transatlantic colonies. During the four months he had spent in Georgia, in 1738, his ministry had been earnest, but regular. Now, in Pennsylvania, he became what he had been, for seven months in England, not a fixed star, but a flaming comet, his course eccentric, and calculated to alarm episcopal, presbyterian, and other kinds of precisians in the English settlements, quite as much as the same sort of methodical religionists had been alarmed in England. In both countries his action was unpremeditated. On his return to England, at the end of 1738, he had not the least idea of becoming an open-air and itinerant evangelist. He came to be ordained a priest, and to collect subscriptions for his contemplated Orphan House. In like manner, when he returned to America in 1739, he had no conception that the next fourteen months would be occupied as they were. He was intentionally returning to Savannah, there, for about a year, to fulfil the duties of his office as a regular appointed minister of the Church of England, and also, in such a capacity, to provide a home for the orphans of his parish. Instead of this, however, most of his time, as will soon be seen, was spent, not in Georgia, but in itinerating in the other English settlements. This was exceedingly irregular; but, looking at results, who will say that it was wrong? When he arrived at Philadelphia, he did not intend it; but, unquestionably, his Master did. The churches in the English colonies needed a religious impulse quite as much as the churches of the mother-country. Under God, the young evangelist and his fellows had moved and agitated England; and now he was employed, by a Providence which cannot err, and greatly to his own surprise, in moving and agitating America. Let us follow him.

After riding, during the day, sixty miles, through woods and forests and partially cultivated lands, he arrived at Philadelphia, at eleven o'clock at night, on Friday, November 2, 1739. Where he slept, we are not informed; perhaps, nowhere; for most likely, at such an hour, the sober-minded Philadelphians had all retired to rest. Next morning, he "went on board the Elizabeth to see his family;" he[324] visited the officials of the town; he held Christian communion "with some gracious souls;" and he "hired a house at a very cheap rate, and was quite settled in it before night."

Sunday, Nov. 4. He "read prayers and assisted at the communion in the morning; dined with one of the churchwardens, and preached to a large congregation in the afternoon; went in the evening to a Quakers' meeting, and heartily wished they would talk of an outward as well as inward Christ."

Monday, Nov. 5. He "read prayers and preached to a large auditory; dined with the other churchwarden; was visited in the afternoon by the Presbyterian minister; went afterwards to see the Baptist minister; and spent part of the evening most agreeably with two loving Quakers."

Tuesday, Nov. 6. He "read prayers and preached; went to the funeral of a Quaker's child, and, as none of the Quakers spoke, he gave a word of exhortation; was visited in the evening by the Presbyterian and Baptist ministers; and admitted some women to prayers with his family."

Wednesday, Nov. 7. He "read prayers and preached in the church; and gave a word of exhortation to more than a room full of people at his own hired house."

Thursday, Nov. 8. He "read prayers and preached to a more numerous congregation than he had seen yet; dined with an honest, open-hearted, true Israelitish Quaker; and preached, in the evening, from the Court-house stairs, to about six thousand people."

Friday, Nov. 9. He "read prayers and preached as usual in the morning; was visited in a kind manner by the minister of the parish; and preached again at six in the evening, from the Court-house stairs, to, he believed, nearly eight thousand hearers. Even in London, he never observed a more profound silence. The night was clear, but not cold; and lights were in most of the windows round about."

Saturday, Nov. 10. "About eleven, he read prayers and preached in the church; then dined with the minister of the parish; at his return home, was much comforted by the coming of Mr. Tennent, an old grey-headed disciple and soldier of Jesus Christ; about three, went to the prison, and preached on the trembling jailor; returned home with the Swedish minister and Mr. Tennent; conversed with them of the things of God; and, in the evening, preached, to as large a congregation as there was the night before, from the Court-house stairs." He adds: "I continued my discourse above an hour, and, when I had finished, the people seemed so unwilling to go, that I began to pray afresh, and I hope the Lord sent them home not without a blessing. After preaching, my house was filled with people who came to join in psalms and family prayer. Many wept most bitterly whilst I was praying. Their hearts seemed to be loaded with a sense of sin, the only preparative for the visitation of Jesus Christ. Blessed be the Lord for sending me hither! Lord, give me humility, and make me truly thankful! Amen, Lord Jesus!"


Thus did Whitefield begin his memorable ministry in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Tennent has just been mentioned, and, as he and his family will hereafter be often introduced to the reader's notice, a brief account of him and them seems requisite.

The Rev. William Tennent, senior, was from Ireland, and was an ordained minister of the Established Church of that country. He was chaplain to an Irish nobleman; but, being conscientiously scrupulous about conforming to the terms imposed on the clergy, he was deprived of his living; and, in 1718, migrated to Pennsylvania, with his wife, four sons, and a daughter.[282] He applied to be received as a member of the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia. That body required him to state in writing the reasons of his dissent from the Episcopal communion. One of the most prominent of his reasons was, that the Church of Ireland connived "at Arminian doctrines." His case was considered; his credentials were satisfactory; he was admitted a member of the Synod, and settled at Neshaminy, twenty miles north of Philadelphia.[283] There, about the year 1720, he erected a school, long known as the "Log College," where some of the most distinguished ministers of that period received their education. Among these were his four sons, and Messrs. Rowland, Campbell, Lawrence, Beatty, Robinson, and Samuel Blair. He died in 1743. He is described as "a man of great integrity, simplicity, industry, and piety;" and to him the American churches were much indebted.

Charles Tennent, one of the four sons, was minister of the Presbyterian Church at Whiteclay Creek.[284]

John was licensed by the Newcastle Presbytery, and was settled at Freehold, New Jersey, where his labours were greatly blessed. His chapel was usually crowded; religion became the general subject of discourse; the terror of God fell on the inhabitants of the place; and many were converted. John Tennent's ministry was of short duration. He was called to the Freehold congregation in 1730, and died in 1732.[285]


He was succeeded by his brother William, in 1733. The religious excitement, commenced under the ministry of John, continued, less or more, for about a dozen years. Mr. William Tennent writes: "Those who were brought to the Saviour were all prepared for it by a sharp law-work of conviction, discovering to them their sinfulness both by nature and practice, as well as their liableness to damnation for their original and actual transgressions. They all confessed the justice of God in their eternal perdition; and thus were shut up to the blessed necessity of seeking relief by faith in Christ alone."[286] For forty-four years, Mr. Tennent officiated as pastor of the church at Freehold. He died on the 8th of March, 1777.[287] The old house at Freehold, in which John and William Tennent used to preach, is still standing in its primitive simplicity. The building is forty feet by sixty, and, beneath its middle aisle, are deposited the remains of William Tennent. In one of the walls is a handsome monumental tablet, recording the chief dates of his earthly pilgrimage.[288]

Gilbert Tennent became a licentiate of the Newcastle Presbytery in 1725, and, in 1726, was ordained minister of New Brunswick, in New Jersey. "For eighteen months after his settlement at New Brunswick, Mr. Tennent saw no evidence that any one had been savingly benefited by his labours. He then commenced a serious examination of the members of his church, as to the grounds of their hope, which he found, in many cases, to be but sand. Such he solemnly warned, and urged to seek converting grace. He preached much, at this time, upon original sin, repentance, the nature and necessity of conversion, and endeavoured to alarm the secure by the terrors of the Lord. These efforts were followed by the conviction and conversion of a considerable number of persons."[289] Gilbert Tennent became prominent in his endeavours to reform abuses in the Presbyterian churches, and not infrequently was in conflict with his brethren. As early as 1735, he succeeded in persuading the synod to pass a resolution[327] that due care should be taken to examine candidates both for the ministry and for the Lord's supper, respecting the evidences of the grace of God in them, as well as their other necessary qualifications. In 1740, he read a paper to the New Brunswick Synod, complaining that the preaching of a number of its members was "powerless and unsavoury," "too general," "soft and flattering," and, therefore, "unsuccessful." He also, in the same year, preached and published his famous sermon on the danger of an unconverted ministry, which led to a Presbyterian schism. He described the generality of the ministers of that generation as "letter-learned Pharisees, plastered hypocrites, having the form of godliness, but destitute of its power." He told the people that the reason why they had seen so few cases of conviction or conversion among them was because "the bulk of their spiritual guides were stone blind and stone dead."[290]

In 1740, Whitefield persuaded him to act as his successor in Boston, and in the Province of New England generally. Tennent consented, and away he went to his new sphere of labour, with almost rustic simplicity; wearing his hair undressed, and a large great-coat girt with a leathern girdle. His ministry in New Jersey had been greatly blessed; and now, in New England, it was hardly less successful than Whitefield's had been. He seemed "to shake the country, as with an earthquake. Wherever he came, hypocrisy and Pharisaism either fell before him, or gnashed their teeth against him. Cold orthodoxy also started from her downy cushion to imitate or to denounce him; for, like Elijah on Carmel, he made neutrality impossible." In 1743, he established a new church in Philadelphia, consisting of Whitefield's followers, and closed his laborious and eminently successful ministry in the year 1765.[291] For more than forty years, he had enjoyed an unshaken assurance of his interest in redeeming love. As a preacher, he had but few equals. His publications were more than a score in number. At his death, he was succeeded in the congregation at Philadelphia[328] by the Rev. James Sproat, who had been converted by his ministry.

These are very imperfect notices of the Tennents; but they will help the reader to understand ensuing extracts from Whitefield's Journals and correspondence.

On Monday, Nov. 12, Whitefield left Philadelphia for the purpose of visiting New York. Four horses were lent to him and to his friends. He writes:—

"About one, we got safe to Burlington, in the Jerseys, twenty miles from Philadelphia. Immediately after dinner, I read prayers and preached in the church, to a mixed but thronged and attentive congregation. About eight in the evening, we reached Trent, another town in the Jerseys, and went to rest in peace and joy.

"Tuesday, Nov. 13. Left Trent at six in the morning, and reached Brunswick, thirty miles distant, at one. Here we were much refreshed with the company of Mr. Gilbert Tennent, an eminent Dissenting minister, about forty years of age, son of that good old man who came to see me on Saturday at Philadelphia. God, I find, has been pleased greatly to own his labours. He and his associates are now the burning and shining lights of this part of America. Several pious souls came to see me at his house, with whom I took sweet counsel. At their request, I read the Church Liturgy and preached in Mr. Tennent's meeting-house; for there is no place set apart for the worship of the Church of England. I was above an hour in my sermon, and I trust I shall hear it was not preached in vain.

"Wednesday, Nov. 14. Set out from Brunswick, in company with Mr. Tennent and my other fellow-travellers; and, as we passed along, we spent our time most agreeably in telling one another what God had done for our souls. About four, we reached New York, where we were most affectionately received by the family of Mr. Noble.[292] I waited upon Mr. V——y, the commissary, but he was not at home. Then I went to the meeting-house to hear Mr. Gilbert Tennent preach, and never before heard such a searching sermon. He convinced me more and more that we can preach the gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced the power of it in our own hearts. Being deeply convicted of sin, by God's Holy Spirit, at his first conversion, Mr. Tennent has learned experimentally to dissect the heart of the natural man. Hypocrites must either soon be converted or enraged at his preaching. He is a son of thunder, and does not fear the faces of men. After sermon, we spent the evening together at Mr. Noble's house. My soul was humbled and melted down with a sense of God's mercies, and I found more and more what a babe and novice I was in the things of God.

"Thursday, Nov. 15. Waited upon Mr. V——; but he seemed to be[329] full of anger and resentment, and, before I asked him for the use of his pulpit, denied it. He said, they did not want my assistance. I replied, if they preached the gospel, I wished them good luck in the name of the Lord; but, as he had denied me the church without my asking the use of it, I would preach in the fields, for all places were alike to me. I, therefore, preached in the fields, to upwards of two thousand, at three in the afternoon; and expounded, at six in the evening, to a very thronged and attentive audience, in the reverend and worthy Mr. Pemberton's[293] meeting-house. In the field, a few mocked, but, after speaking to them, they grew more serious. At night, the people seemed exceedingly attentive, and I have not felt greater freedom in preaching, and more power in prayer, for a long while.

"Saturday, Nov. 17. Preached, in the afternoon, at the meeting-house, to a full congregation; and again at night, to a great multitude standing round the doors.

"Sunday, Nov. 18. Preached, this morning at eight o'clock, to a very attentive auditory. Went to the English Church, both morning and evening. At night, a great multitude flocked to hear the word. Some petitioned to have the use of the Town Hall, but it was denied. I thought of expounding out of a window, and to let the people stand in the street; but, at last, with much difficulty, I got into the meeting-house, and, the people being prevailed on to open the windows, numbers could hear, who stood outside. About ten o'clock, I took boat, with my friends, and had a pleasant passage to a place about half-way to Elizabeth Town, where we lay down with joy, and thankfulness for the great goodness the Lord had shewn us."

One who was present at these services in New York, wrote as follows, in Prince's "Christian History":—

"I never saw, in my life, such attentive audiences as Mr. Whitefield's in New York. All he said was demonstration, life, and power. The people's eyes and ears hung upon his lips. They greedily devoured every word. He preached, during four days, twice every day. He is a man of middle stature, of a slender body, of a fair complexion, and of a comely appearance. He is of a sprightly, cheerful temper, and acts and moves with great agility and life. The endowments of his mind are uncommon; his wit is quick and piercing; his imagination lively and florid; and, as far as I can discern, both are under the direction of a solid judgment. He has a most ready memory, and, I think, speaks entirely without notes. He has a clear and musical voice, and a wonderful command of it. He uses much gesture, but with great propriety. Every accent of his voice, every motion of his body speaks; and both are natural and unaffected. If his delivery be the product of art, it is certainly the perfection of it, for[330] it is entirely concealed. He has a great mastery of words, but studies much plainness of speech. He spends not his zeal in trifles. He breathes a most catholic spirit; and professes that his whole design is to bring men to Christ; and that, if he can obtain this end, his converts may go to what church, and worship God in what form, they like best."

Such was the commencement of Whitefield's ministry in New York. His own Church would not admit him; and, therefore, he began to preach in Dissenting chapels. This was not pre-designed. Whitefield was a child of Providence; and when that seemed to point out his path, he felt no hesitancy, but, utterly regardless of the frowns and flatteries of men, he did what he deemed to be his duty. There was no dogged obstinacy about him. Perhaps one of his failings was that he was too persuadable; but even such a failing (if such existed) always leaned to the side of virtue. Writing, whilst at New York, to the Rev. Benjamin Colman, D.D., of Boston, who had mentioned him in a letter to Mr. Pemberton, he says:—

"I love to be acquainted with old servants of Jesus Christ. I delight to sit at their feet and receive instruction from them. You said right, reverend sir, when you said 'I was but a young divine.' Indeed, I am a novice in the things of God. I can only say that I desire to know the whole will of God, that I may communicate it to others. Reverend sir, into what a lethargy is the Christian world fallen! Foolish and wise virgins are all slumbering and sleeping. It is high time for all who love the Lord Jesus to lift up their voices like trumpets, and to give warning of the Bridegroom's coming. Many, I hope, are already alarmed.[294] Philadelphia people receive the gospel gladly. Here [at New York] there has been a little opposition, and, therefore, I hope success will be given to the word. Oh, reverend sir, entreat the Lord that I may be kept humble, and dependent upon our dear Lord Jesus. Shortly I expect to suffer for Him. May I not deny Him in that hour!"

Writing to his mother, Whitefield says:—

"New York, November 16, 1739.

"Honoured Mother,—New friends are raised up every day, whithersoever[331] we go. The people of Philadelphia have used me most courteously, and many, I believe, have been pricked to the heart.... Oh, my honoured mother, my soul is in distress for you. Flee, flee, I beseech you, to Jesus Christ, by faith. Lay hold on Him, and do not let Him go. God has given you convictions. Arise, arise, and never rest till they end in sound conversion. Dare to deny yourself. My honoured mother, I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus, dare to take up your cross, and follow Christ."

These are beautiful exhibitions of humbleness, simplicity, earnestness, and love. Let us follow Whitefield in his return to Philadelphia.

"Monday, Nov. 19, Took boat about five in the morning, and reached Elizabeth Town at seven. Dined with Mr. Dickinson,[295] a worthy Dissenting minister, who had sent a letter of invitation to New York, and offered me the use of his meeting-house. About twelve, I preached in it, according to appointment, to upwards of seven hundred people. God was pleased to open my mouth against both ministers and people, among all denominations, who imprison the truth in unrighteousness.

"Tuesday, Nov. 20. Reached New Brunswick about six last night; and preached to-day, at noon, for near two hours, in Mr. Tennent's meeting-house, to a large assembly gathered together from all parts. About three in the afternoon, I preached again; and, at seven, I baptized two children, and preached a third time. Among others who came to hear the word, were several ministers, whom the Lord has been pleased to honour, in making them instruments of bringing many sons to glory.[296]

"Wednesday, Nov. 21. Set out early, with about a score in company, for Maidenhead, a little more than twenty miles from New Brunswick, where, at Mr. Tennent's request, I had appointed to preach to-day. At noon, I preached from a waggon to about fifteen hundred persons. Here one Mr. Rowland,[297] another faithful minister of Jesus Christ, gave us the[332] meeting. He has been a preacher about two years, has gone about doing good, and has had many seals to his ministry. Much of the simplicity of Christ was discernible in his behaviour. After sermon, in company with above thirty horse, I went to Trent Town, ten miles from Maidenhead, and preached, in the Court House, in the evening.

"Thursday, Nov. 22. Set out for Neshaminy (twenty miles from Trent Town), where old Mr. Tennent lives, and keeps an academy, and where I was to preach to-day, according to appointment. We came thither about twelve, and found above three thousand people gathered together in the meeting-house yard, and Mr. William Tennent preaching to them, because we were beyond the appointed time. When I came up, he stopped, and sung a psalm, and then I began to speak. At first, the people seemed unaffected, but, in the midst of my discourse, the hearers began to be melted down, and cried much. After I had finished, Mr. Gilbert Tennent gave a word of exhortation. At the end of his discourse, we sung a psalm, and then dismissed the people with a blessing. After our exercises were over, we went to old Mr. Tennent, who entertained us like one of the ancient patriarchs. His wife seemed to me like Elizabeth, and he like Zacharias; both, as far as I can find, walk in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless. We had sweet communion with each other, and spent the evening in concerting measures for promoting our Lord's kingdom. It happens very providentially that Mr. Tennent and his brethren are appointed to be a presbytery by the synod, so that they intend breeding up gracious youths, and sending them out into our Lord's vineyard. The place wherein the young men study now is, in contempt, called the College. It is a log-house, about twenty feet long, and nearly as many broad; and, to me, it seemed to resemble the school of the old prophets. From this despised place, seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth; more are almost ready to be sent; and a foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others. The devil will certainly rage against them; but the work, I am persuaded, is of God, and will not come to nought. Carnal ministers oppose them strongly; and, because people, when awakened by Mr. Tennent or his brethren, see through them, and therefore leave their ministry, the poor gentlemen are loaded with contempt, and looked upon as persons who turn the world upside-down.

"Friday, Nov. 23. Parted with dear Mr. Tennent and his worthy fellow-labourers; but promised to remember each other publicly in our prayers. Rode to Abingdon, about ten miles from Neshaminy, and preached to above two thousand people from a porch-window belonging to the meeting-house. It is surprising how such bodies of people, so scattered abroad, can be gathered at so short a warning. At Neshaminy, I believe, there were nearly a thousand horses. The people, however, did not sit upon them to hear the sermon, as in England, but tied them to the hedges; and thereby much disorder was prevented. Though it was cold, the congregation stood very patiently in the open air, and seemed in no hurry to return home after the discourses were ended. As soon as I had finished at Abingdon, I hastened to Philadelphia, where I found my family in good[333] order, and all things carried on according to my desire. Oh, how can I express my thankfulness for this little excursion!"

This was a new kind of life to Whitefield. In England, he had preached, when he was permitted, in churches, and when not permitted, in Moorfields and places similar. Here he was preaching in Presbyterian, or, as he regarded them, Dissenting meeting-houses, or in open spaces surrounded by the grand old forests, through which he and his companions joyously pursued their sylvan journeys. Professedly, he was a Church of England clergyman, but practically a Dissenting minister. Of course, his action was ecclesiastically irregular, but it occasioned him no anxiety or uneasiness. He was preaching the gospel, and that to him was quite enough. When he got back to Philadelphia, he wrote quite a batch of letters, all bearing the same date, November 28; but extracts from two only must suffice.

To the Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton, he says, perhaps with more lowliness than was decorous:—

"I have been much concerned since I saw you, lest I behaved not with that humility toward you, which is due from a babe to a father in Christ; but you know, reverend sir, how difficult it is to meet with success, and not be puffed up with it. If any such thing was discernible in my conduct, oh pity me, and pray to the Lord to heal my pride. Alas! who can hope to be justified by his works? My preaching, praying, etc., are only splendida peccata. The blood of Christ, applied to my soul by a living faith, is the only thing that can render them acceptable."

He was not only in close communion with the Presbyterians of America, but he wrote as follows to the Rev. Ralph Erskine, the Presbyterian Reformer, in Scotland:—

"I bless the Lord, from my soul, for raising you and several other burning and shining lights to appear for Him in this midnight of the Church. My heart has been much warmed by reading some of your sermons, especially that preached before the Associate Presbytery. I long more and more to hear of the rise and progress of your proceedings, and how far you would willingly carry the reformation of the Church of Scotland. My ignorance of the constitution of the Scotch Church is the cause of my writing after this manner. I should be obliged to you, if you would recommend to me some useful books, especially such as open the holy sacrament. I like Boston's 'Fourfold State of Man' exceedingly. Under God, it has been of much service to my soul. I believe I agree with you and him in the essential truths of Christianity. I bless God, His[334] Spirit has convinced me of our eternal election by the Father through the Son; of our free justification through faith in His blood; of our sanctification as the consequence of that; and of our final perseverance and glorification as the result of all. These, I am persuaded, God has joined together; these neither men nor devils shall ever be able to put asunder. My only scruple at present is, 'whether you approve of taking the sword in defence of your religious rights?' One of our English bishops, when I was with him, called you Cameronians. They, I think, took up arms, which I think to be contrary to the Spirit of Jesus Christ and His apostles. Some few passages in your sermon before the Presbytery, I thought, were a little suspicious of favouring that principle. I pray God your next may inform me that I am mistaken; for when zeal carries us to such a length, I think it ceases to be zeal according to knowledge. Dearest sir, be not angry at my writing thus freely. I wish you good luck in all your pious undertakings. I pray God to prosper the work of your hands, and to make you a noble instrument in bringing many sons to glory."

There can be no question that Whitefield's intercourse with the Presbyterians of America powerfully affected him.[298] This was not surprising; for, apart from the fact that the clergy of his own Church generally disdained him, these Presbyterian ministers were men of kindred spirits to his own, intensely earnest, and blessed with the highest enjoyments of religion. The following letter addressed to Whitefield will shew "what manner of men they were." As will be seen, it was written immediately after Whitefield's first visit to New York.

"New Brunswick, December 1, 1739.

"Very Reverend and dear Brother,—I think I never found such a strong and passionate affection to any stranger as to you, when I saw your courage and labour for God at New York. I found a willingness in my heart to die with you, or to die for you. The reason why I spoke so little, for the most part of the time while I was with you, was a shameful sense I had of my ignorance and barrenness, after such a multitude of waterings and sealings as God had given me. Though I am as a brute beast before God, one of the meanest and vilest worms that ever crawled on the creation of God, yet I must say, to His praise, and my own shame, that I have had, in time past, such discoveries of my great Father's dear affection as have overcome me. For months together, my[335] soul has been so ravished with divine objects, that my animal spirits have been wasted, and my sleep much broken. I have been made to loathe my food, because of the superior sweetness I have found in Christ. I could not refrain my soul from a secret longing for reproach, poverty, imprisonment, and death, for a glorious Christ, that, thereby, I might testify a grateful regard to His unspeakably dear and venerable majesty. I could not refrain wishing that every hair of my head was a life, that I might lay it down freely for my Lord Jesus. The fear of bringing any reproach on His religion has many times brought bitter tears from my eyes and heart. Sometimes, when travelling on the road, when I beheld the canopy of heaven, my heart has been suddenly ravished with love to God as my Father; so that I could not forbear crying out, in the pleasing transports of a childlike affection, 'Father! Father!' with a full and sweet assurance that He was my Father, and my God. In the night season, when I awoke, my soul was still with God. The passion of my soul for Christ was so vehement, that my dreams were full of Him. Thus it was for a long tract of time, But, alas! when the great God wisely withdrew His quickening presence, and let Satan loose upon me, O what terrible havoc did he make in my soul! and that, alas! too much with my will. I thought myself a monster in iniquity, and that there was some peculiar brutishness in my heart, that none had but myself. This made me often wish for death to get clear of it. This has often enraged my soul so against sin and myself for it, that I have thought, if it were lawful, I could freely try to pluck my heart out, and tear it in pieces.

"Since you were here, I have been among my people, dealing with them plainly about their souls, in their houses; examining them one by one as to their experiences; telling natural people the danger of their state; exhorting them that were totally secure, to seek convictions, and those that were convinced, to seek Jesus; and reproving pious people for their faults. Blessed be God! I have seen hopeful appearances of concern.

"I am, etc.,
"Gilbert Tennent."[299]

To return to Whitefield. In New York, he was not allowed to preach in the Church of England; but his preaching in the Presbyterian meeting-house received the sanction of his Divine Master. A few days after his departure, the Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton wrote to him as follows:—

"Reverend and Dear Sir,—You left New York under a deep and universal concern. Many were greatly affected, and I hope abiding impressions are left upon some. Some, who were before very loose and profligate, look back with shame upon their past lives and conversation, and seem resolved upon a thorough reformation. I mention these things[336] to strengthen you in the blessed cause you are engaged in, and to support you in your abundant labours. When I heard so many were concerned for their eternal welfare, I appointed a lecture on Wednesday evening, though it was not the usual season; and, though the warning was short, we had a numerous and attentive audience. In short, I cannot but hope that your coming among us has been the means of awakening some to a serious sense of practical religion, and may be the beginning of a good work in this sinful place. I pray God to take you under His gracious protection, to sustain you under your many trials, and make you gloriously successful in converting sinners from the error of their ways. My wife joins me in affectionate regards to you, Mr. Seward, and your other friends, whom we love in sincerity.

"I am, your affectionate brother and very humble servant,
"E. Pemberton."

Whitefield returned to Philadelphia on Friday, November 23. On Saturday, November 24, he preached, morning and afternoon, to "a vast concourse of all denominations," in the English Episcopal Church. The next day, a scene occurred within the consecrated building. Whitefield writes:—

"Sunday, Nov. 25. Was somewhat alarmed this morning by one,[300] who, after my sermon, told the congregation in the church, with a loud voice, 'That there was no such term as imputed righteousness in Holy Scripture; that such a doctrine put a stop to all goodness; and that we were to be judged for our good works and obedience, and were commanded to do and live.' When he had ended, I denied his first proposition, and brought a text to prove that 'imputed righteousness' was a scriptural expression; but, thinking the church an improper place for disputation, I said no more at that time. In the afternoon, however, I discoursed upon the words, 'The Lord our righteousness,' and shewed how the Lord Jesus was to be our whole righteousness. I proved how the contrary doctrine overthrew all divine revelation, and endeavoured to answer objections. I produced the Articles of our Church, and concluded with an exhortation to lay aside reasoning infidelity, and to submit to Jesus Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth. The church was thronged within and without; all were wonderfully attentive; and many, as I was informed, were convinced that the Lord Christ was our righteousness.

"Monday, Nov. 26. Read prayers and preached twice in the church, to very large and attentive congregations. The word came with great power; and people now apply to me so fast for advice under convictions, and so continually crowd in upon me, that I have not time to write to my English friends.


"Tuesday, Nov. 27. According to appointment, I preached at German Town,[301] seven miles from Philadelphia, from a balcony, to above six thousand people. I spoke nearly two hours. Great numbers continued weeping for a considerable time. A German most kindly entertained me. I think there are not less than fifteen denominations of Christians in German Town, and yet all agree in one thing, that is, to hold Jesus Christ as their head, and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Germans are about to translate my Journals into High Dutch. About eight in the evening we reached Philadelphia.

"Wednesday, Nov. 28. Read prayers and preached, as usual, to a thronged congregation. Heard of more who were under convictions. In the morning, notice had been given that I would preach my farewell sermon in the afternoon. But the church, (though as large as most of our London churches,) being not large enough to contain a fourth part of the people, we adjourned to the fields, and I preached for an hour and a half from a balcony, to upwards of ten thousand hearers, very attentive and much affected.

"Blessed be God for such success at New York and Philadelphia. One of the printers has told me he has taken above two hundred subscriptions for printing my Sermons and Journals. Numbers of letters have been sent me from persons under convictions. As I have sown spiritual things, the people were willing I should reap carnal things. They have, therefore, sent me butter, sugar, chocolate, pickles, cheese, and flour, for my poor orphans.

"Thursday, Nov. 29. Had the satisfaction of settling all my family affairs, and gave orders for my family to set sail immediately after my leaving Philadelphia. From seven in the morning, the people thronged round the door, and, when we parted, oh, how bitterly did they weep! Nearly twenty gentlemen accompanied me on horseback out of the town. About seven miles off, another company was waiting to meet us, so that, at last, we were nearly two hundred horse. By three, we reached Chester, and I preached to about five thousand people from a balcony. It being court-day, the justices sent word they would defer their meeting till mine was over; and the minister of the parish, because the church would not contain the people, provided the place from which I spoke. I was told that near a thousand of the congregation came from Philadelphia."

For the present, Whitefield had left Pennsylvania, and was on his way, through Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina, to Georgia. Before attending him, the following must be added respecting his first visit to Philadelphia.


A printer has just been mentioned. There can be no doubt that this was the celebrated Benjamin Franklin.[302] This remarkable man was now in the thirty-third year of his age. Some nineteen years before, he had entered Philadelphia, hungry, tired, and dirty; his pockets filled with shirts and stockings, and the whole of his worldly wealth consisting of a Dutch dollar. He was now an industrious printer; for several years had published "Poor Richard's Almanack;" had filled the office of clerk to the General Assembly; and had recently been appointed postmaster. He was also an alderman and a magistrate, but took no part in the business of the bench, commonly employing himself while sitting there "in contriving magic squares and circles." Of his subsequent career, and of the high honours conferred upon him, it is not necessary here to speak.

Of course, Whitefield attracted the attention of Franklin. The latter writes:—

"In 1739, the Rev. Mr. Whitefield arrived among us. He was, at first, permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refused him[303] their pulpits, and he was obliged to preach in the fields. The multitudes, of all sects and denominations, that attended his sermons, were enormous, and it was a matter of speculation to me (who was one of the number) to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and how much they admired and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, by assuring them they were naturally half beasts and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless and indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through Philadelphia in the evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.

"Mr. Whitefield, on leaving us, went preaching all the way through the colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province had lately been begun; but, instead of its being made with hardy, industrious husbandmen,[339] accustomed to labour, the only people fitted for such an enterprise, it consisted of families of broken shopkeepers, and other insolvent debtors, and many of indolent habits, taken out of the jails, who, being set down in the woods, unqualified for clearing land, and unable to endure the hardness of a new settlement, perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for. The sight of these inspired Mr. Whitefield with the idea of building an Orphan House there, in which they might be supported and educated."[304]

So much from America's great printer, electrician, statesman, and diplomatist, Benjamin Franklin. The reader is now invited to accompany Whitefield through the three colonies of Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina. Whitefield writes:—

"Friday, November 30. Preached at noon, and again at three in the afternoon, at Wilmington. Spent the evening in sweet conversation with Mr. William Tennent, brother to Mr. Gilbert Tennent, a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, and with several Germans, whose hearts God has been pleased to knit to me in a close and intimate union.

"Saturday, December 1. Reached Newcastle by ten in the morning, and preached to about two thousand people from a balcony. Preached, at four o'clock, at Christian Bridge, to about the same number as at Newcastle. Near two hundred horse came on the road with us.

"Sunday, December 2. Returned last night to Newcastle, that I might see my dear family, who came thither in the sloop just after I had left. This morning, went on board, prayed, sung psalms, gave a word of exhortation, and rejoiced much to see all things in such excellent order. My dear friend, Captain Gladman, told me how kind the people of Philadelphia had been to my family after my departure. One brought them butter, another beer, etc., and the collector would not take his perquisite for clearing the sloop. About ten, we came to Christian Bridge again, and by twelve reached Whiteclay Creek, the place appointed for my preaching. The weather was rainy, but upwards of ten thousand people were assembled. There were several hundreds of horses. I preached from a tent, erected for me by order of Mr. William Tennent, whose meeting-house was near the place. I continued in my first discourse an hour and a half, after which we went into a log-house, took a morsel of bread, and warmed ourselves. I preached a second time from the same place. God caused His power to be known in the congregation. Many souls were melted down.[305]

"Monday, December 3. Came to North East in Maryland, where I[340] had appointed to preach to-day. Little notice having been given, there were not above fifteen hundred people; but God was with us, and many were deeply affected. Immediately after sermon, we passed over Susquehannah ferry, about a mile broad, and were received at a gentleman's house. The gentleman told us he had been a little melancholy, and had sent for some friends to help him to drive it away. I found the bottle and the bowl were the means to be employed; but, blessed be God, the design was, in a good measure, prevented by our coming. All joined in family prayer; and I went to bed pitying the miserable condition of those who live a life of luxury and self-indulgence. They are afraid to look into themselves; and, if their consciences are at any time awakened, they must be lulled asleep again by drinking and evil company.

"Tuesday, December 4. Baited at Joppa, a little town about fifteen miles from the place where we lay. I gave a word of exhortation to about forty people in the church.

"Wednesday, December 5. Lay last night at Newtown, fifteen miles from Joppa; ate what was set before us; joined in family prayer; and, as opportunity offered, put in a word for God. In the morning, we sung and prayed. By four in the afternoon, we reached Annapolis, a little town, but the metropolis of Maryland. The house where we lodged was very commodious, but the people of it seemed to be surprised when they heard us talk of God and Christ.

"Thursday, December 6. Waited on the governor, and was received with much civility. Went to pay my respects to the minister of the parish, who happened not to be within; but, whilst we were at dinner, he came, and offered me his pulpit, his house, or anything he could supply me with. About four, he came and introduced me and my friends to a gentleman's house, where we had some useful conversation. Our conversation ran chiefly on the new birth, and the folly and sinfulness of those amusements, whereby the polite part of the world are so fatally diverted from the pursuit of the one thing needful.

"Friday, December 7. Preached in the morning and evening to small polite auditories. The governor came to the morning service, and, at noon, I and my friends dined with him.

"Saturday, December 8. Came to Upper Marlborough, and wrote letters to some under convictions at Philadelphia."

Here let us pause. Besides his letters to penitents at Philadelphia, Whitefield wrote the two following—the first[341] to the Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton, and the second to Mr. Noble, his host at New York:—

"Upper Marlborough, December 8, 1739.

"Rev. and dear Sir,—Till now, I have neither had leisure nor freedom to answer your kind letter. Blessed be God, who has opened the hearts of some of His people at New York to receive the word. May He enable you to water what His own right hand hath planted! I wish you good luck in the name of the Lord. I wish all His servants were prophets. Oh that He would be pleased to send forth experimental labourers into His harvest! I fear that, amongst you, as well as in other places, there are many who are well versed in the doctrines of grace (having learned them at the university); but, notwithstanding, are heart-hypocrites, and enemies to the power of godliness. Dear sir, I use this freedom, because I love simplicity. Pardon me, for out of the fulness and sincerity of my heart, my pen writeth. Oh, entreat the God of all grace to give me humility, so shall success not prove my ruin. Mr. Noble's letter, and my next Journal, will acquaint you how the Lord Jesus has been getting Himself the victory since I left New York. There has been such little opposition, that I have been almost tempted to cry out, 'Satan, why sleepest thou?' Oh, dear sir, thank God on my behalf; for, indeed, He deals most lovingly with, rev. sir, your most unworthy brother and fellow-labourer,

"George Whitefield."

"Upper Marlborough, December 8, 1739.

"Dear Sir,—I cannot defer writing to dear Mr. Noble any longer. This afternoon God brought us hither. Some are solicitous for my staying here to-morrow. As it seems to be a call from Providence, I have complied with their request. Oh that I may be enabled to lift up my voice like a trumpet, and to speak with the demonstration of the Spirit and with power! These parts are in a dead sleep. At Annapolis, I preached twice, and spoke home to some ladies concerning the vanity of their false politeness. But, alas; they are wedded to their quadrille and ombre. The minister of the place was under convictions. He wept twice, and earnestly begged my prayers. He will not frighten people, I believe, with harsh doctrine. He loves to prophesy smooth things. God blessed the word wonderfully at Philadelphia. I have great reason to think many are brought home to God. Oh, help me, help me, dearest Mr. Noble, help me to be thankful; and accept my thanks, though late, for all favours received when at New York. Salute your dear wife, my kind hostess. Exhort her to be severely kind to her little boy. I am your weak, but affectionate friend, brother, and servant in Christ,

"George Whitefield."

In Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, Whitefield had been in the midst of a great revival. In Maryland, he felt himself in a moral and religious desert. His Journal continues:—


"Sunday, December 9. Preached at Upper Marlborough, to a small, polite, and seemingly very curious audience. There being no sermon in the afternoon, we took horse, and went a Sabbath-day's journey as far as Piscataway, where I wrote some letters to our English friends.

"Monday, December 10. Reached Potomac by three in the afternoon. Potomac is a river which parts the two provinces of Maryland and Virginia. It is six miles broad. We attempted to go over it; but, after we had rowed about a mile, the wind blew so violently, and night was coming on so fast, that we were obliged to go back and lie in the person's house who kept the ferry, where they brought out such things as they had.

"Tuesday, December 11. Had a delightful passage over the river this morning. Observed the country to be much more open, and the roads better, than in Maryland. Passed over two more ferries in the day's journey, and were put to some little inconvenience for want of finding a public-house in the way. However, at last, we met a poor woman, who was going to sell cakes to the trained bands, of which we bought some; and, a few miles farther, a planter let us have some provender for our beasts, and a little milk and small beer for ourselves. At six at night, we got to a place called Seals Church, twenty-nine miles from Potomac. Here we called at a person's house to whom we were recommended; but the mistress of it was not at home, and the overseer of the slaves, at first, was unwilling to receive us. However, finding we were wet and strangers, he was at last prevailed upon to let us abide there all night; and furnished us with a good fire, with some little meat, and milk, and a cake baked on the hearth, which was exceedingly refreshing, and afforded us no small matter for praise and thanksgiving.

"Wednesday, December 12. We came to Piscataway ferry, where the man of the house spared us some corn and sheaves for our horses, but had neither milk nor bread in the house for ourselves. However, I endeavoured to feed him with spiritual bread; but he seriously asked one of us if I was not a Quaker. At four in the afternoon, we reached an ordinary, and were refreshed with what meat they had. In the evening, some gentlemen came disordered in liquor; but the woman of the house kept them from us, and we slept very comfortably on the bed that she made us in the kitchen.[306] I talked to her of religion, and told her that we were to be born again. She said that was true, but it was to be done after death.

"Thursday, December, 13. Set out just as the sun rose; got to an[343] ordinary by noon; ate what was set before us with some degree of thankfulness; and reached the house of Colonel Whiting long before night. Here God spread a plentiful table for us.

"Friday, December 14. Reached Williamsburg, the metropolis of Virginia, by the evening.

"Saturday, December 15. Dined with the governor, who received me most courteously. Paid my respects to the Rev. Mr. Blair, the Commissary of Virginia. He received me with joy, and asked me to preach. He has been chiefly instrumental in raising a beautiful college at Williamsburg, in which is a foundation for about eight scholars, a president, two masters, and professors in the several sciences. Here the gentlemen of Virginia send their children. The present masters came from Oxford. Two of them were my contemporaries there. I rejoiced in seeing such a place in America.[307]

"Sunday, December 16. Preached in the morning. Several gentlemen came from York, fourteen miles off. There being no sermon customarily in the afternoon, I left Williamsburg, promising, if possible, to visit these parts again in the summer.

"Monday, December 17. Got over a ferry three miles broad last night, and met with a young man who shewed us the way to Captain R——n's, who entertained us with much generosity, and was so kind as to accompany us fourteen miles this morning. We came to an ordinary about thirty miles from the place where we lay last night. Here we met with what some would call very indifferent entertainment. Bashfulness, and a fear of being troublesome, have kept us from embracing offers of gentlemen's houses; but we have heard a good report of the generosity of the Virginia gentlemen. I find they are so willing, and accustomed to entertain strangers, that few think it worth their while to keep public ordinaries.

"Tuesday, December 18. Being indisposed with fever, and one of our horses being foundered, it was thought desirable to stay at the ordinary the whole day.

"Wednesday, December 19. We took a short day's journey of about twenty-six miles, and were most affectionately received by Colonel O——n, in North Carolina.

"Thursday, December 20. Took leave of our kind host, and travelled cheerfully onwards. About noon, we alighted in the woods, to give our horses provender, and to take a little refreshment ourselves, which we have done every day this week, because there are no ordinaries in the way. By four in the afternoon, we reached Eden Town, a little place, beautifully situated by the water-side. Here we were well entertained at a public-house.


"Friday, December 21. We went in a pettiagua over the sound, and were nearly seven hours in our passage. It was about twelve miles over. We met with a convenient ordinary on the other side.

"Saturday, December 22. We came to Bath-Town, a distance of nearly fifty miles. It is by far the longest stage, and the roads are the worst we have had, since we began our journey. The ground, most part of the way, was swampy, and the country uninhabited. It was as hot as it is at Midsummer in England; but we had a sweet breeze, which made our riding through the woods exceeding pleasant. About midway, we met with an ordinary, where we refreshed ourselves and beasts. We observed a variety of birds; and, in the evening, heard wolves howling like a kennel of hounds.

"Sunday, December 23. Sent to the minister of the place, and had some conversation with him last night. Preached, at noon, to nearly a hundred people, which, I found, was an extraordinary congregation, there being seldom more than twenty at church.

"Monday, December 24. Crossed Pamplico river, about five miles wide, yesterday morning. Lay at an ordinary at the water-side. Reached Newborn Town, thirty miles from Bath Town, by six at night.

"Tuesday, December 25. Went to public worship, and received the holy sacrament, which was celebrated in the Court House. In the afternoon, the people were uncommonly attentive. One told me I had given him a home stroke. The woman where we lodged would take nothing for our Christmas dinner, and wished we could stay with them longer.

"Wednesday, December 26. Met with comfortable refreshment at an ordinary on the road, and lodged at a little house in the woods, about thirty-five miles from where we lay last night. I baptized two children. I believe there may be hundreds of children in this province unbaptized, for want of a minister.

"Thursday, December 27. Set out about eight in the morning, and got to an ordinary, about thirty-three miles distant, before six at night. I went, as my usual custom is, among the negroes belonging to the house. One man was sick in bed, and two of his children said their prayers after me very well.

"Friday, December 28. After about fifteen miles' ride, we comfortably refreshed both ourselves and beasts at a poor widow's ordinary, who, a few days ago, had buried her husband. After dinner, we had a pleasant ride to New Town on Cape Fear River, nearly eighteen miles from the place where we baited. We rejoiced greatly that the Lord had brought us so far on our journey, and had not suffered us to go out of our way, through so many almost uninhabited woods.

"Sunday, December 30. Wrote letters to my friends in England. Read prayers, and preached, both morning and evening, in the Court House. There being many of the Scotch amongst the congregation, who lately came over to settle in North Carolina, I was led to make a particular application to them, and to remind them of the necessity of living holy lives, and giving proof of their zeal for those truths which they had heard preached to them, with great purity and clearness, in their native[345] country. About five in the evening, I and my friends passed the ferry, and lay at the house of the High Sheriff of the county.

"Monday, December 31. Set out early, and met with more perils by land than we have been exposed to yet. The swamps and creeks which lay in the way were filled with water; and the bridges, being out of repair, rendered travelling very dangerous. In one place, we were obliged to swim our horses; in many, the waters were very high, and were not to be passed without much difficulty. But we met with two good guides, by whose assistance we were brought, at night, to a little house, where with pleasure we reflected on the dangers and deliverances of the day.

1740. Tuesday, January 1. About sunset, we came to a tavern, five miles within the province of South Carolina. I believe the people of the house, at first, wished I had not come to be their guest; for, it being New Year's Day, several of the neighbours were met together to divert themselves by dancing country dances. By the advice of my companions, I went in amongst them. All were soon put to silence, and were, for some time, so overawed, that, after I had discoursed with them on the nature of baptism, and the necessity of being born again, in order to enjoy the kingdom of heaven, I baptized, at their entreaty, one of their children, and prayed as I was enabled, and as the circumstances of the company required.

"Wednesday, January 2. Rose early, prayed, sung a hymn, gave another word of exhortation to the dancers; and, at break of day, we mounted our horses. For nearly twenty miles, we rode over a beautiful bay, and were wonderfully delighted to see the porpoises taking their pastime. We intended to call at a gentleman's house, about forty miles distant from our last night's lodging, but we missed the way, and came to a hut full of negroes. We enquired after the gentleman's house whither we were directed; but the negroes said they knew no such man, and that they were but new-comers. From these circumstances, we inferred that they might be some of those who had lately made an insurrection in the province, and had run away from their masters. We, therefore, thought it best to mend our pace, and, soon after, we saw another nest of negroes dancing round about a fire. When we had gone about a dozen miles, we came to a plantation, the master of which gave us lodging, and our beasts provender. During the day, we had ridden nearly three-score miles, and, as we thought, in great peril of our lives.

"Thursday, January 3. Had a hospitable breakfast; set out late in the morning; and, for the ease of our beasts, rode not above nineteen miles the whole day. 'A good man,' says Solomon, 'is merciful to his beast.'

"Friday, January 4. About eight in the evening, after riding forty-three miles, we came to a tavern, five miles from Charleston.

"Saturday, January 5. Left our lodging before daylight, and, after we had passed over a three-mile ferry, we reached Charleston about ten in the morning.

"Sunday, January 6. Went to public service in the morning, but did[346] not preach, because the curate had not a commission to lend the pulpit, unless the commissary (then out of town) were present. Most of the town, however, being eager to hear me, I preached, in the afternoon, in one of the Dissenting meeting-houses, but was grieved to find so little concern in the congregation. The auditory was large, but very polite. I question whether the court-end of London could exceed them in affected finery, gaiety of dress, and a deportment ill-becoming persons who have had such Divine judgments lately sent amongst them. I reminded them of this in my sermon; but I seemed to them as one that mocked.

"Monday, January 7. Finding the inhabitants desirous to hear me a second time, I preached, in the morning, in the French church. The audience was so great, that many stood without the door. I felt much more freedom than I did yesterday. Many were melted into tears. One of the town, most remarkably gay, was observed to weep. Instead of the people going out (as they did yesterday) in a light, unthinking manner, a visible concern was in most of their faces. After sermon, I and my friends dined at a merchant's; and, as I was passing along, a letter was put into my hands, wherein were these words: 'Remember me in your prayers, for Christ's sake, who died for me a sinner.' Many of the inhabitants, with full hearts, entreated me to give them one more sermon, and, though I was just about to take the boat, I thought it my duty to comply with their request. Notice was immediately given, and, in about half an hour, a large congregation was assembled in the Dissenting meeting-house. In the evening, I supped at another merchant's house, and had an opportunity, for nearly two hours, to converse of the things of God with a large company.

"Tuesday, January 8. Left our horses in Charleston, and set out for Georgia, in an open canoe, having five negroes to row and steer us. The poor slaves were very civil, and laborious. We lay one night on the water; and, about five on Wednesday evening, arrived at Beaufort in Port Royal, one hundred miles from Charleston.

"Wednesday, January 9. The wind being high, and sailing impracticable, we stayed at Beaufort all the morning, and dined with kind Mr. Jones, the minister of the place, who received us with great civility. Afterwards, the weather being fair, and the tide serving, we again took boat. In the night, we made a fire on the shore. A little after midnight, we prayed with the negroes; took boat again; and reached Savannah the next day, where I had a joyful meeting with my dear friends, who had arrived three weeks ago."

Thus, after a journey of five months' duration, Whitefield once more reached his parish in America. If it be asked, what induced him and his friends to leave their ship, at Capen Lopen, on October 30th, and to spend ten weeks in travelling to Georgia by land, through the four provinces of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina? the best[347] and, indeed, the only answer is, we cannot tell. It seemed a strange freak for Whitefield to send what he called his "family" to Savannah by water, and for himself and William Seward and others to travel to the same place, a distance of at least six or seven hundred miles, through primeval forests, uncultivated plains, and miasmal swamps. But even out of this curious vagary came great results; for, in these colonial wanderings, Whitefield became acquainted with the Tennents and other Presbyterian ministers; and this affected the whole of his future life.

When Whitefield sailed to America in 1739, he intended to return to England in about a twelve-month. His principal object was to erect and institute his Orphan House in Georgia. As will be seen shortly, he did much more than this; but his other labours were not included in his first design. His own account of the commencement of the Orphan House is as follows:—

"Some have thought that the erecting of such a building was only the produce of my own brain; but they are much mistaken. It was first proposed to me by my dear friend, the Rev. Mr. Charles Wesley, who, with his Excellency General Oglethorpe, had concerted a scheme for carrying on such a design before I had any thoughts of going abroad myself. It was natural to think, that, as the government intended this province for the refuge and support of many of our poor countrymen, numbers of such adventurers must necessarily be taken off, by being exposed to the hardships which unavoidably attend a new settlement. I thought it, therefore, a noble design to erect a house for fatherless children, and was resolved, in the strength of God, to prosecute it with all my might. This was mentioned to the Honourable the Trustees. They took it kindly at my hands; and, as I then began to be pretty popular at Bristol and elsewhere, they wrote to the Bishop of Bath and Wells, asking leave for me to preach a charity sermon on this occasion in the Abbey Church. This was granted, and I, accordingly, began immediately to compose a suitable discourse; but, knowing my first stay in Georgia would be but short, on account of my returning to take priest's orders, I thought it most prudent, first, to go and see for myself, and defer prosecuting the scheme till I returned, to England.

"When I came to Georgia, I found many poor orphans, who, though taken notice of by the Honourable Trustees, yet, through the neglect of persons that acted under them, were in miserable circumstances. For want of a house to breed them up in, the poor little ones were tabled out here and there, and, besides the hurt they received by bad examples, forgot at home what they learnt at school. Others were at hard services,[348] and likely to have no education at all. Upon seeing this, I thought I could not better shew my regard to God and my country, than by getting a house and land for these children, where they might learn to labour, read, and write, and, at the same time, be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

"Accordingly, at my return to England in the year 1738, to take priest's orders, I applied to the Honourable Society for a grant of five hundred acres of land, and laid myself under an obligation to build a house upon it, and to receive, from time to time, as many orphans as the land and stock would maintain.

"As I had always acted like a clergyman of the Church of England, and had preached in many of the London churches,—and as I had but a few months before collected nearly 1000 for the children belonging to the charity schools in London and Westminster,—it was natural to think that I might now have the use of some of these churches to preach in, for the orphans of Georgia. But, by the time I had taken priest's orders, the clergy began to be much embittered. Churches were gradually denied to me; and I must let this good design drop, or preach in the fields. Indeed, two churches, one in Spitalfields and one in Bristol, were lent me upon this occasion; but these were all.[308] However, God kept me from being discouraged. I collected for the Orphan House in Moorfields 52, one Sabbath-day morning, 22 of which were in copper. The people offered willingly, and took more pains to come through the crowd to put their contributions into my hat, than some would to have gotten them. In the afternoon, I collected again at Kennington Common;[309] and continued to do so at most of the places where I preached. Besides this, two or three bishops and several persons of distinction contributed; till, at length, having about 1010, I gave over collecting, and went with what I had to Georgia. Multitudes offered to go with me; but I chose to take only a surgeon and a few more of both sexes, who I thought would be useful in carrying on my design. These cheerfully embarked with me, desiring nothing for their pains, but food and raiment. My dear fellow-traveller, William Seward, Esq., also joined with them, and was particularly useful to me. Our first voyage was to Philadelphia, where I was willing to go for the sake of laying in provision. In January, 1739, I met my family in Georgia; and, being unwilling to lose any time, I hired a large house, and took in all the orphans I could find in the colony. Most of the orphans were in poor case; and three or four were almost eaten up[349] with lice. About the month of March, I began the great house, having only about 150 in cash. I called it Bethesda, because I hoped it would be a house of mercy to many souls."[310]

In the above extract, Whitefield says certain bishops and persons of distinction contributed to his Orphan House in Georgia. The bishops who contributed were, Dr. Benson, Bishop of Gloucester, 10 10s.; and Dr. Butler, Bishop of Bristol, 5 5s. The "persons of distinction" included Lady Cox, 5 5s. Her sister, Madam Bridget Bethel 5 5s.; Lady Betty Hastings, 10; the Rev. Mr. Kinchin, 2 2s.; Rev. Mr. Broughton, 1 1s.; Rev. Westley Hall, 5 5s.; Rev. Benjamin Ingham, 1 1s.; (the four last mentioned were Oxford Methodists.) Whitefield himself, 80 10s.; William Seward, Esq., 100; Benjamin Seward, Esq., 50; the Honourable Dixey Windsor, 5 5s.; Rev. Mr. Radliff, Master of Pembroke College, 1 1s.; Rev. Dr. Doddridge, 1 1s.; John Thorold, Esq., 5 5s.; Mr. James Hutton, 2 2s.; Howell Harris, 1 1s.; the Countess of Egmont, 5 5s.; Rev. Henry Piers, 10s. 6d.

Whitefield's Report, published in 1741, contains other interesting items. For instance, besides those already mentioned, collections were made by Whitefield in other places, amounting to 227 4s. 9d.; and to these must be added "a collection by the Rev. Mr. Cole, Dissenting minister at Gloucester, 12 10s.;" and also the collections and subscriptions raised in America, making a total of 2530 2s. 9d. And even this was not all. William Seward contributed four horses; Mr. Hugh Bryan, of South Carolina, gave a canoe, eleven barrels of rice, five barrels of beef, and six sheep; Mr. Hazelton, of the same province, five sheep, six geese, and four turkeys; divers friends at Charleston gave him linen, china, a hogshead of molasses, 250 lb. of wool, a cow, five sugar-loaves, nine hams, and a bag of coffee; and friends in Pennsylvania contributed cheeses, hams, hung beef, children's stays, shirts, about ten thousand bricks, and "a large folio Turkey-leather Bible." Among the items of expenditure were the following:—Sarah Greenhough, of[350] London, for eighty-four pairs of shoes, 5 1s. 6d.; John Bray, for mortars, stills, etc., 20 1s. 10d.; James Hutton, for surgery books, 3 4s. 8d.; Isaac Burton, for two wigs, 2 6s.; Robert Norman, for gunpowder, 19; Mr. Day, for drawing a plan for the Orphan House, 2 10s.; passage for eleven persons to Georgia, 87 5s. 6d:; Mr. Hugh Bryan, for twenty-one cows, twenty-one calves, a bull, two horses, a mare, a colt, and ten sows, 65 18s. 614d.; for two servants bought of Mr. George Cuthbert, 12; Captain Mackay, for 15,700 shingles, 7 17s.; Isaac Young, for cartage of 28,000 bricks, a mare, and two drawing steers, 23 6s.; Hugh Wire, for 1365 lb. of pork, 9 3s.; ten cows and calves, 30; eighteen cows, 36; one bull, 1; forty-eight hogs and eight sheep, 20; Hugh Ross, for fencing the gardens, 41 12s. 8d.; several labourers, for fencing the whole 500 acres, 37 3s. "The total of cash paid for the Orphan House since it was settled December, 1739, 3,358 7s. 514d.;" leaving a deficiency in December, 1741, of 828 4s. 814d.

Almost all the building materials used in the erection of the Orphan House had to be conveyed from Savannah, a distance of about a dozen miles; and, there being no road between Bethesda and Savannah, one of the items of expenditure in Whitefield's financial statement is, "Paid labourers who are employed in clearing land, going in boats, tending on carpenters and bricklayers, and in making a cart road, near twelve miles, from Savannah to Bethesda, 258 14s. 412d., besides their provisions." For thirty years, Bethesda was the object of Whitefield's constant solicitude. "It compelled him to travel, and inspired him to preach." James Habersham, one of those who went out with him in 1738, was his factotum, and, for many years, rendered most valuable service. This comparatively humble man afterwards rose to considerable distinction. He became governor of the province of Georgia; he was the father of Joseph Habersham, the distinguished patriot whom Washington, in 1795, appointed Post-Master General of the United States; and he was also one of the executors of Whitefield's will. The Honourable James Habersham will be often mentioned in the succeeding pages. It is now time, however, to return to Whitefield's[351] diary and letters. He reached Savannah on January 10, 1740, and the next day went to Bethesda. He writes:—

"1740. Friday, January 11. Went this morning, with some friends, to view a tract of land, consisting of five hundred acres, which Mr. Habersham, whom I left schoolmaster of Savannah, was directed, I hope by Providence, to make choice of for the Orphan House. It is situated on the northern part of the colony, about ten miles from Savannah, and has various kinds of soil in it; a part of it very good. Some acres, through the diligence of my friend, are cleared. He has also stocked it with cattle and poultry. He has begun the fence, and built a hut. I choose to have it so far off the town, because the children will be more free from bad examples. It is my design to have each of the children taught to labour, so as to be qualified to get their own living."

Oddly enough, there is here a break in Whitefield's Journal, the next entry being dated January 24th; but the following extracts will help to fill the chasm. William Stephens, Esq., in his "Journal of the Proceedings in Georgia," published in 1742, writes:—

"1740. January 11. Mr. Whitefield, accompanied by three or four others, arrived at Savannah. Mr. Norris quietly gave up the church to Mr. Whitefield. Mr. Whitefield gave to me a document relating to the land on which to build his Orphan House. I told him that Mr. Habersham had already applied to General Oglethorpe, when he was at Savannah, and that the general had ordered five hundred acres to be run out, and had signed a warrant for this; and that, accordingly, Mr. Habersham had taken possession of the five hundred acres, and begun fencing and clearing it.

"January 13. Mr. Whitefield's name, which of late has made so much noise in England, could not fail in drawing all sorts of people to the church. Both morning and evening, he made justification by faith only the subject of his discourse; which he pressed home with great energy, denouncing anathemas on all such as taught otherwise.

"January 15. Mr. Norris goes as clergyman to Frederica. Mr. Whitefield has employed nearly all the sawyers, carpenters, and bricklayers in Savannah, to build his Orphan House, on the five hundred acres, which Mr. Habersham selected, about ten miles from Savannah.

"January 20. Mr. Whitefield read prayers at seven; again at ten, with a sermon; again at three, with a sermon; a lecture at seven; besides the sacrament after the second morning service, when he administered to between thirty and forty. Both the sermons were on Justification and Regeneration. I hope for one on Good Works before long."

During the thirteen days omitted in his Journal, Whitefield was not only preaching and looking after the affairs of Bethesda, but writing letters, some of which were of great[352] interest and importance. To the Rev. Ralph Erskine he wrote as follows:—

"Savannah, January 16, 1740.

"Reverend and dear Sir,—You may depend on my not being prejudiced against you or your brethren, by any evil report. They only endear you to me more and more; and were your enemies to represent you as black as hell, I should think you the more glorious in the sight of heaven. I assure you, dear sir, I am fully convinced of the doctrine of election, free justification, and final perseverance. My observations on the Quakers were only intended for those particular persons with whom I then conversed. The tenets of the Quakers in general, about justification, I take to be false and unscriptural. Your adversaries need take no advantage against you by anything I have written; for I think it every minister's duty to declare against the corruptions of that church to which he belongs. This is your case in Scotland, and ours in England. I see no other way for us to act at present, than to go on preaching the truth as it is in Jesus; and then, if our brethren cast us out, God will direct us to take that course which is the most conducive to His glory and His people's good. I think I have but one objection against your proceedings,—your insisting only on Presbyterian government, exclusive of all other ways of worshipping God. Will not this necessarily lead you (whenever you get the upper hand) to oppose and persecute all that differ from you in their church government, or outward way of worshipping God? Our dear brother and fellow-labourer, Mr. Gilbert Tennent, thinks this will be the consequence, and said he would write to you about it. For my own part, though I profess myself a minister of the Church of England, I am of a catholic spirit; and, if I see any man who loves the Lord Jesus in sincerity, I am not very solicitous to what outward communion he belongs.

"God is doing great things in America. My Journal, which I send with this, will shew you what He has done already. Affairs of the Orphan House go on well. Some few, even here, love the Lord Jesus. Oh, dear sir, pray for us, and especially for your weak, unworthy brother and fellow-labourer in Christ,,

"George Whitefield."[311]

To Mr. Gilbert Tennent, Whitefield wrote the following:—

"Savannah, January 22, 1740.

"My honoured Friend and Brother in Christ,—I have experienced many inward trials since I last saw you; but I find they work continually for my good. I have received a sweet, endearing, instructive letter from Mr. Ralph Erskine. I have answered it, and told him you promised to write about the necessity of a catholic spirit. Dr. Colman[353][312] also has favoured me with a loving epistle. I have read his sermons since I saw you. They are acute and pointed, but I think not searching enough by many degrees. I love writers that go to the bottom. I hope to be with you at the Synod; but I sometimes doubt whether I shall have sufficient matter given me to preach upon. Michael and the dragon, I hear, are carrying on war most bravely in England. I really believe we shall not die, till we see the kingdom of God come with power. The affairs of the Orphan House are in great forwardness. I have much to say, but time and business will not permit. Blessed be God, eternity is at hand, and then we shall have time enough. I have read some of your books to my great profit. I want to be taught the way of God more perfectly, etc.

"George Whitefield."

An extract from another letter, belonging to this period, deserves insertion. It was addressed "to the Inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina."

"Savannah, January 23, 1740.

"As I lately passed through your provinces, I was touched with a fellow-feeling of the miseries of the poor negroes. Could I have preached more frequently among you, I should have delivered my thoughts in my public discourses; but, as business here required me to stop as little as possible on the road, I have no other way to discharge the concern that lies upon my heart than by sending you this letter. How you will receive it, I know not; but, whatever be the event, I must inform you, in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, that I think God has a quarrel with you, for your cruelty to the poor negroes. Whether it be lawful for Christians to buy slaves, I shall not take upon me to determine;[313] but sure I am it is sinful, when bought, to use them worse than brutes; and, I fear, the generality of you, who own negroes, are liable to such a charge; for your slaves, I believe, work as hard as the horses whereon you ride.

"These, after they have done their work, are fed and taken proper care of; but many negroes, when wearied with labour in your plantations, have been obliged to grind their own corn after they return home.

"Your dogs are caressed and fondled at your tables; but your slaves, who are frequently styled dogs or beasts, have not an equal privilege. They are scarce permitted to pick up the crumbs which fall from their masters' tables. Nay, some, as I have been informed by an eye-witness,[354] have been, upon the most trifling provocation, cut with knives, and have had forks thrown into their flesh: not to mention what numbers have been given up to the inhuman usage of cruel task-masters, who, by their unrelenting scourges, have ploughed upon their backs, and made long furrows, and, at length, brought them even to death itself.

"I hope there are but few such monsters of barbarity suffered to subsist among you. Some, I hear, have been lately executed in Virginia for killing slaves; and the laws are very severe against such as murder them.

"Perhaps it might be better for the poor creatures themselves to be hurried out of life, than to be made so miserable as they generally are in it. Indeed, considering the usage they commonly meet with, I have wondered that we have not more instances of self-murder among them, or that they have not more frequently risen in arms against their owners. Virginia has been once, and Charleston more than once, threatened in this way. And, though I pray God the slaves may never be permitted to get the upper hand, yet, should such a thing be permitted by Providence, all good men must acknowledge the judgment would be just. Is it not the highest ingratitude, as well as cruelty, not to let your poor slaves enjoy some fruits of their labour? Whilst I have viewed your plantations cleared and cultivated, and have seen many spacious houses built, and the owners of them faring sumptuously every day, my blood has almost run cold within me, when I have considered how many of your slaves had neither convenient food to eat, nor proper raiment to put on, notwithstanding most of the comforts you enjoy were solely owing to their indefatigable labours. The Scripture says, 'Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.' Does God take care of oxen? And will He not take care of negroes? Undoubtedly He will. 'Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.' Behold, the provision of the poor negroes, which have reaped down your fields, which is by you denied them, 'crieth, and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.'"

Whitefield's letter to the slave-owners was printed, and, as will soon be seen, its bold speaking brought him into trouble. Meanwhile, in his church at Savannah, he not only continued to preach on his favourite subjects, justification and the new birth, but he announced that he would administer the sacrament on all Sundays and holidays. On February 3, in his sermon, he denounced the clergy as "slothful shepherds and dumb dogs," and declared his opinion that "the author of 'The Whole Duty of Man' had sent thousands to hell." This created another feud; and, as if this were not enough, on March 7 he quarrelled with Mr. Norris, the late minister at Savannah, and charged him with preaching false doctrine, with fiddling, and with playing at cards with ladies,[355] and told him he should never again assist him in administering the sacrament.[314]

Of course, Whitefield was also busily occupied with his Orphanage. He writes:—

"Tuesday, January 29. Took in three German orphans, the most pitiful objects, I think, I ever saw. No new negroes could look more despicable, or require more pains to instruct them. Were all the money I have collected to be spent in freeing these three children from slavery, it would be well laid out. I have also in my house near twenty more, who, in all probability, if not taken in, would be as ignorant of God and Christ as the Indians. Blessed be God, they begin to live in order.

"Wednesday, January 30. Went with the carpenter and surveyor, and laid out the ground whereon the Orphan House is to be built. It is to be sixty feet long, and forty wide. The foundation is to be brick, and is to be sunk four feet within, and raised three feet above the ground! The house is to be two stories high, with a hip-roof: the first ten, the second nine feet high. In all, there will be near twenty commodious rooms. Behind are to be two small houses, the one for an infirmary, the other for a workhouse. There is also to be a still-house for the apothecary; and, I trust, before my return to England, I shall see the children and family quite settled. I find it will be an expensive work; but it is for the Lord Christ. He will take care to defray all charges. The money that will be spent, on this occasion, will keep many families from leaving the colony. There are near thirty working at the plantation already, and I would employ as many more, if they were to be had.

"Monday, February 4. Met, according to appointment, all the magistrates, who heard the recorder read the grant given me by the trustees, and took a minute of their approbation of the same.

"Monday, February 11. Took in four fresh orphans, and set out, with two friends, to Frederica, in order to pay my respects to General Oglethorpe, and to fetch the orphans in the southern parts of the colony.

Seventeen days were spent in this journey to the south of Georgia; but, before following Whitefield, further extracts from his letters may be welcome. To Mr. William Delamotte, who had joined the Moravians, and who, with Benjamin Ingham, was converting hundreds in Yorkshire,[315] Whitefield wrote as follows:—

"Savannah, January 31, 1740. Blessed be God, for the good report I hear of your zeal for our dear Immanuel. Go on. I am persuaded the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in your hands. God blesses the affairs of the Orphan House. The work is large, but we have omnipotence for[356] our support. I believe I shall take in near fifty children. Fear not to speak the truth: if driven out of England, here is a noble range for you in America."

To the Rev. William Tennent, he addressed the following:—

"Savannah, January 31, 1740. I am abashed to think what our all-gracious Redeemer has done by my unworthy hands, and rejoice to hear that He is working by yours. God willing, I hope to be with you at the synod. I find as yet I scarce know anything; but if I give out of my little stock, I trust the Lord will increase it, as He did the little lad's loaves and fishes. My Journal, which I have sent to Philadelphia, will tell you what God has done in Maryland and Virginia. I believe a foundation of great things is laying there."

To a "sister" he sent the ensuing account of his Calvinian experience:—

"Savannah, January 31, 1740. Nothing so much comforts my soul as the thought that God will never leave me. If He does, it must be for my unworthiness; but, on that account, it cannot be; for He never chose me on account of my worthiness. He loved me freely; He prevented me by His grace; He chose me from eternity; He called me in time; and, I am persuaded, will keep me till time shall be no more. This consideration makes my faith to work by love. Now I can live not barely upon my feelings, which are blessed things, but on the promises. Though I fall, I know I shall rise again. The Lord Jesus will not suffer the purchase of His blood to be lost. He knew for whom He died, and neither men nor devils shall ever pluck them out of His hands. I hope, ere long, our brethren will lay all carnal reasoning aside, and see and preach the truth, in this respect, as it is in Jesus."

To Mr. Noble, of New York, he wrote as follows:—

"Savannah, January 31, 1740. I purpose to revisit New York at the appointed time. You told me, 'our Lord has not sent me into His vineyard at my own charge.' Indeed, I always find He furnishes me with things convenient. Nay, He is often so abundant in goodness and truth, that I am obliged to cry out, in holy admiration, 'My Lord and my God!' Blessed be God, the Orphan-house affairs succeed well. Many souls will be redeemed by it from temporal, and, I trust, from eternal bondage. I am building a large house, have many servants, and a good stock of cattle. It will cost much money; but our Lord will see to that. My friends at New York will assist me when I come amongst them."

Howell Harris, the brave Welshman, always occupied a warm place in Whitefield's large and loving heart. The following was addressed to him:—


"Savannah, Feb. 4, 1740. Will this find you in prison, or not? Your last letter gave me some expectation, that, ere long, you would be both in prison and bonds. By-and-by, I shall follow perhaps. My dear brother, let us continue instant in season and out of season. Let us continually preach up free grace, though we die for it. We cannot lose our lives in a better cause. As I am enabled, I remember you at the throne of grace. In general, I sigh out my prayers. I have not had much enlargement in preaching since I have been here. I sometimes think my heart is more vicious and perverse than any one's; and yet Jesus Christ will come and dwell in me. Methinks I hear you say, 'Glory be to free grace! All praise be given to electing love!' Let all who love the Lord Jesus say, Amen!"

In his seventeen days' journey to the southern part of Georgia, Whitefield came to the Scots' settlement at Darien, and was kindly received by Mr. McLeod, the Presbyterian minister. Thence he proceeded to Frederica, where he was courteously treated by General Oglethorpe. He preached in a room belonging to the storehouse, and "the general, the soldiers, and the people attended very orderly." Returning to Darien, he preached five sermons to Mr. McLeod's congregation. On February 26, he set out with four orphans, lay two nights in the woods, and reached Bethesda, at noon, on the 28th. A fortnight afterwards, he embarked for Charleston. He writes:—

"1740. Friday, March 14. Arrived last night at Charleston, being called there to see my brother, who lately came from England. Waited on the commissary" (the Rev. Alexander Garden), "but met with a cool reception. Drank tea with the Independent minister, and preached to a large auditory in his meeting-house.

"Saturday, March 15. Breakfasted, sung a hymn, and had some religious conversation on board my brother's ship. Preached in the Baptist meeting-house; and, in the evening, again in the Independent meeting-house, to a more attentive auditory than ever.

"Sunday, March 16. Preached, at eight in the morning, in the Scots' meeting-house, to a large congregation. Went to church and heard the commissary represent me under the character of the Pharisee, who came to the temple, saying, 'God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.' Went to church again in the afternoon; and, about five, preached in the Independent meeting-house yard, the house not being capacious enough to hold the auditory.[316]


"Monday, March 17. Preached, in the morning, in the Independent meeting-house, and was more explicit than ever in exclaiming against balls and assemblies. Preached again in the evening, and, being excited thereto by some of the inhabitants, I spoke in behalf of the poor orphans, and collected upwards of 70 sterling, the largest collection I ever yet made on that occasion.

"Tuesday, March 18. Preached twice again this day, and took an affectionate leave of my hearers. I believe a good work is begun in many. Every day several have come to me, telling me, with weeping[359] eyes, how God had been pleased to convince them by the word preached. Invitations were given me from some of the adjacent villages, and many came to town daily, from their plantations, to hear the word.

"Friday, March 21. Went on board the sloop, prayed, sung a hymn, and took an affectionate leave of my dear brother and other friends. Got over the bar, and reached Savannah about noon.

"Tuesday, March 25. Went to Bethesda, and, with full assurance of faith, laid the first brick of the great house. The workmen attended, and with me kneeled down and prayed. After we had sung a hymn suitable to the occasion, I gave a word of exhortation to the labourers, and bid them remember to work heartily, knowing that they worked for God. Near forty children are now under my care, and near a hundred mouths are daily supplied with food. The expense is great, but our great and good God, I am persuaded, will enable me to defray it.

"Sunday, March 30. Found myself sick and weak in body, but was strengthened to go through most of the duties of the day, and to take an affectionate leave of my parishioners, because it appeared that Providence called me towards the northward."

This northern journey occupied the next two months; but, before narrating its incidents, some of Whitefield's troubles must be mentioned. Like all impulsive men, he was frequently imprudent, and, naturally enough, imprudence engendered mischief.

From the foregoing extracts it will be seen that Whitefield was denounced, from the pulpit, by the Rev. Alexander Garden, M.A., Rector of St. Philip's, Charleston.[317] Remembering all that had occurred during Whitefield's visit to England in 1739, and also remembering that, since his return to America, Whitefield had preached more frequently in Dissenting meeting-houses than in his own parish church at Savannah, it is not surprising that Mr. Garden gave Whitefield "a cool reception" when he went to Charleston. It is matter of regret, however, that he should have used the pulpit to proclaim his displeasure; and it is a matter of additional regret, that the youthful evangelist copied, to any extent, so objectionable an example. It is said that, while Alexander Garden expatiated on the text, "Those who have turned the world upside-down are come hither also," George Whitefield[360] retorted by enlarging on the words, "Alexander the coppersmith hath done me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works."[318]

But this was not all. Early in the year, a small pamphlet of sixteen pages was published, with the following title: "Three Letters from the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, namely: Letter 1. To a Friend in London, concerning Archbishop Tillotson; Letter 2. To the same on the same subject; Letter 3. To the Inhabitants of Maryland, Virginia, and North and South Carolina, concerning their Negroes. Printed and sold by Benjamin Franklin, at the New Printing Office, near the Market, Philadelphia, 1740."[319]

The third of these letters has been already noticed; the other two must have attention. The first is dated Savannah, January 18, 1740, and is meant to vindicate Whitefield's assertion, that "Archbishop Tillotson knew no more of Christianity than Mahomet." Whitefield writes:—

"This has been looked upon as one of the most unjustifiable expressions that ever proceeded out of my mouth. I dare not say that the expression came originally from me. My dear and honoured friend, Mr. John Wesley, if I mistake not, first spoke it in a private Society, where he was expounding part of the Epistle to the Romans, and proving the doctrine of justification by faith alone, in contradistinction to good works. But, upon the maturest deliberation, I say again, what I have often said before, that Archbishop Tillotson knew no more about true Christianity than Mahomet. Whatever high opinion others may have of that great man, I must confess he was never a favourite of mine. My sermon on the eternity of hell's torments was directly levelled against a discourse of his on that subject; and, since then, my dislike of him has been much increased, because I have observed that all natural men generally speak well of his works. Did he teach the truth as it is in Jesus, thousands, who now admire, would throw aside his discourses as waste paper. But I would not lay all the stress of my objections here; but from his own writings will I prove my assertion. Any spiritual man who reads them may easily see that the Archbishop knew of no other than a bare historical faith; and, as to the[361] method of our acceptance with God, and our justification by faith alone (which is the doctrine of Scripture and of the Church of England), he certainly was as ignorant thereof as Mahomet himself."

Whitefield then proceeds to quote extracts from Tillotson's writings, to prove his assertion. It would have been much wiser for Whitefield to have kept quiet.

His second letter concerning Tillotson consists chiefly of extracts from Dr. Edwards's (late of Cambridge) book, entitled "The Preacher; shewing the Offices and Employments of those of that character in the Church." The letter concludes thus:—

"And now, my dear friend, have I been rash in my censure of the Archbishop, or not? I know, writing or speaking against so learned a Rabbi is like Luther's writing against the indulgences of the Pope. But, no matter for that. The mystery of iniquity, wrapped up in the writings of Archbishop Tillotson, has been hid long enough. It is time now to reveal it to the world."

All this may seem to be heroic; but it was not modest. The work of young Whitefield was not to attack Archbishop Tillotson, whose death took place long before Whitefield's birth; but to preach Jesus Christ. He was soon rebuked—far too bitterly, but not undeservedly.

Soon after Whitefield's visit to Charleston, and the publication of his unwise letters, there appeared a quarto pamphlet, of fifty-four pages, with the following title: "Six Letters to the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield. The first, second, and third on the subject of Justification; the fourth containing remarks on a pamphlet entitled 'The Case between Mr. Whitefield and Dr. Stebbing stated;' the fifth containing remarks on Mr. Whitefield's two Letters concerning Archbishop Tillotson and the book entitled 'The Whole Duty of Man;' and the sixth containing remarks on Mr. Whitefield's second Letter concerning Archbishop Tillotson, and on his Letter concerning the Negroes. By Alexander Garden, M.A., Rector of St. Philip's, Charleston, and Commissary in South Carolina. Together with Mr. Whitefield's Answer to the first Letter. Boston, 1740."[320]


The first of Mr. Garden's letters dwells on good works, as springing out of faith, and preceding justification. Whitefield's "Answer" is as follows:—

"Charleston, March 18, 1740.

"Rev. Sir,—Both by your conversation, sermon, and letter, I perceive you are angry over-much. Were I ever so much inclined to dispute, I should stay till the cool of the day. Your letter more and more confirms me that my charge against the clergy is just and reasonable. It would be endless to enter into such a private debate as you, rev. sir, seem desirous of. You have read my sermon" (on "What think ye of Christ?") "be pleased to read it again; and, if there be anything contrary to sound doctrine or the Articles of the Church of England, let the public know it from the press, and thus let the world judge whether you or my brethren the clergy have been rashly slandered by, rev. sir, your very humble servant,

"George Whitefield."

Whitefield would not fight, but he made others angry. Mr. Garden's second letter was on the same subject as his first, but was free from personal abuse. In the third, the commissary became ireful. Whitefield is accused of "wilful and malicious, arrogant and wicked slander," and of using "miserable distinctions" and "mob harangues." He is charged with employing "poisoned insinuation, false and insidious," and is told he has "no talent at proving anything." In reference to Whitefield's saying, in his Journal, he has kindled a fire which all the devils in hell will not be able to extinguish, Mr. Garden remarks: "Alas! the fire you have kindled is that of slander and defamation,—a fire which no devil in hell, nor Jesuit, nor Deist on earth, will ever go about to extinguish, but will fagot and foment it with all their might, as too effectually serving their interests."

The fourth letter, dated April 15, 1740, is purely theological; the fifth is clever, but abusive. Mr. Garden says Whitefield has "exposed himself to the utmost scorn and contempt of every reader." "In your mountebank way," the rector continues, "you have, young David-like, as you fancy, slain your Goliath" (Tillotson), "but his works and memory will[363] long survive after you and your dirty pamphlets are sunk into oblivion. But might not one such conquest have sufficed you, as it did young David? No: your noble spirit scorns only to imitate, but must excel. No sooner have you dispatched this champion of the uncircumcised in heart and ears, but, advancing from a David into a knight of Lamanca, you go straight in pursuit of new adventures! And who unhappily falls in your way but another son of Anak, the author of the 'Whole Duty of Man'?[321] Down he must come; and thus you gird yourself for the battle." Then again, because Whitefield says God has given him "a true knowledge of the doctrines of grace," Mr. Garden associates him with the Pope and the Mufti, and calls them "a motley Triumvirate of Infallibles—your Reverence, the Pope, and the Mufti! each of you claiming the gift of the true knowledge of the doctrines of grace, and yet each denying his claim to the other,—the claim the result of the most consummate assurance, wherewith you jointly and severally disturb and confound the world."

Mr. Garden's sixth letter is dated July 30, 1740, and chiefly relates to Whitefield's printed attack on the slave-owners of Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Mr. Garden declares "the generality of owners use their slaves with all due humanity." He thinks the owners, in their respective colonies, may prosecute Whitefield for slander. He then retorts on Whitefield as follows:—

"I have heard the report of your cruelty to the poor orphans under your care, not only in pinching their bellies, but in giving them up to taskmasters or mistresses, who plow upon their backs, and make long furrows there, in a very inhuman manner; but would you think it fair and honest in me, if, on such hearsay or report, I should print and publish a letter directed to you, pretending a necessity of informing you that God had a quarrel with you, for your cruelty to the poor orphans?"


All this priestly vituperation, on both sides, is greatly to be lamented. It degraded ministerial character; it injured the cause of Christian truth; it afforded sport to unconverted men. Whitefield's attack on the clergy in general, and on Tillotson in particular, was, to say the least, unwise; and Commissary Garden's replies were unworthy of his character as a gentleman and Christian minister. Mr. Garden, unfortunately, will turn up again; but, for the present, he must be dismissed, that attention may be given to another of young Whitefield's troubles.

As already stated, on February 4, Whitefield, by appointment, met the magistrates of Savannah for the purpose of hearing the Recorder read the document by which the Trustees of Georgia made Whitefield a grant of five hundred acres of land. One of the magnates present was Mr. Parker, who was maintaining two orphan boys of the name of Tondee, the elder being a well-grown lad of fifteen or sixteen years. Whitefield claimed the boys for his Orphanage. Parker objected to part with the older boy, on the ground that, having maintained him during his childhood, it would be unfair to take him away now, when he was capable of working for his living. No doubt, Mr. Parker had reason on his side; but Whitefield replied, "The boy is much fitter for my purpose than for yours, as he can be employed for the benefit of the other orphans." Parker lost his temper; but Whitefield took away the boys.

Another case, even more daring and high-handed than this, occurred about the same time. A man of the name of Mellidge, one of the first forty freeholders of Savannah, died, and left several young children, towards whom General Oglethorpe shewed particular favour. After a few years, the eldest boy, proving himself to be intelligent and industrious, was employed by the General in planting; and the eldest girl having become capable of taking care of the younger children, the whole nest of orphans, in the spring of 1740, found a home in the house of their elder brother John. On arriving in Georgia, Whitefield very improperly took possession of all the younger Mellidges, and removed them to his Orphanage. John, their natural protector, complained to Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe, who was then at Frederica,[365] knowing that the family was now no public incumbrance, wrote the following sensible letter on the subject:—

"I have inspected the grant relating to the Orphan House. Mr. Seward said that the trustees had granted the orphans to Mr. Whitefield; but I shewed him that it could not be in the sense he at first seemed to understand it. The trustees have granted the care of the helpless orphans to Mr. Whitefield, and have given him five hundred acres of land, and a power of collecting charities, as a consideration for maintaining all the orphans who are in necessity in this province; and thereby the trustees think themselves discharged from the maintaining of any. But, at the same time, the trustees have not given, as I see, any power to Mr. Whitefield to receive the effects of the orphans, much less to take by force any orphans who can maintain themselves, or whom any other substantial person will maintain. The trustees, in this, act according to the law of England:—In case orphans are left destitute, they become the charge of the parish, and the parish may put them out to be taken care of; but if any person will maintain them, so that they are not chargeable to the parish, then the parish doth not meddle with them."

Backed by the General's opinion, John Mellidge waited upon Whitefield, and requested him to permit his brothers and sisters to return to the home he himself had provided for them. Whitefield replied, "Your brothers and sisters are at their proper home already. I know no other home they have to go to. Give my service to the General, and tell him so." Oglethorpe was not a man to be trifled with by a young clergyman; and hence, on hearing young Mellidge's report, he peremptorily ordered Mr. Jones, a functionary of Savannah, to remove the children from Whitefield's Orphanage; and Jones, during Whitefield's absence, obeyed the order. Whitefield was angry, and threatened to appeal to the trustees; but the Mellidges prospered, and, after the expiration of the trustees' charter, John Mellidge, the valiant protector of the little orphans, became the representative of Savannah in the first General Assembly of Georgia.[322]

It is impossible to justify Whitefield in proceedings like these; and, certainly, they brought upon him anxiety and trouble, which, though deserved, he need never have experienced.


Another unpleasantness, belonging to this period, must be mentioned. True, it involves no reproach either to one party or the other; but, no doubt, it was painful to both. Whitefield had become a Calvinist; but his friend Wesley, eleven years his senior, and vastly more learned, was an Arminian, and, moreover, held the doctrine, that, though Christians can never be freed from "those numberless weaknesses and follies, sometimes improperly termed sins of infirmity," yet, it is the privilege of all to be saved "entirely from sin in its proper sense, and from committing it." He had also recently published his "Journal from his Embarking for Georgia to his Return to London;" and also the Life of Halyburton, with a Preface, in which he propounded the view just mentioned. Nothing more need be said to illustrate the references in the following most affectionate and deeply interesting letter:—

"Savannah, March 26, 1740.

"Honoured Sir,—Since I returned here, I received your letter and journal. I thank you for both, and shall wait almost with impatience to see a continuance of your account of what God is doing or has done amongst you. He knows my heart. I rejoice in whatever God has done by your hands, I, prae, sequar, etsi non passibus equis.

"I could now send a particular answer to your last; but, my honoured friend and brother, for once hearken to a child, who is willing to wash your feet. I beseech you, by the mercies of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, if you would have my love confirmed towards you, write no more to me about misrepresentations wherein we differ. To the best of my knowledge, at present, no sin has dominion over me, yet I feel the strugglings of indwelling sin day by day. I can, therefore, by no means, come into your interpretation of the passage mentioned in the letter, and as explained in your Preface to Mr. Halyburton.

"The doctrine of election, and the final perseverance of those who are truly in Christ, I am ten thousand times more convinced of, if possible, than when I saw you last. You think otherwise. Why then should we dispute, when there is no probability of convincing? Will it not, in the end, destroy brotherly love, and insensibly take from us that cordial union and sweetness of soul, which I pray God may always subsist between us? How glad would the enemies of the Lord be to see us divided! How many would rejoice, should I join and make a party against you! How would the cause of our common Master every way suffer by our raising disputes about particular points of doctrine!

"Honoured sir, let us offer salvation freely to all by the blood of Jesus; and whatever light God has communicated to us, let us freely communicate to others. I have lately read the life of Luther, and think it in no wise to[367] his honour, that the last part of his life was so much taken up in disputing with Zwinglius and others, who, in all probability, equally loved the Lord Jesus, notwithstanding they might differ from him in other points. Let this, dear sir, be a caution to us. I hope it will to me; for, by the blessing of God, provoke me to it as much as you please, I do not think ever to enter the lists of controversy with you on the points wherein we differ. Only, I pray to God, that the more you judge me, the more I may love you, and learn to desire no one's approbation, but that of my Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

"Ere this reaches you, I suppose you will hear of my late excursion to Charleston. A great work, I believe, is begun there. Enclosed, I have sent you Mr. Garden's letters. They will serve to convince you, more and more, of the necessity you lie under to be instant in season and out of season.

"Oh, dear honoured sir, I wish you as much success as your heart can wish. Were you here, I would weep over you with tears of love, and tell you what great things God hath done for my soul, since we parted last. I often and heartily pray for your success in the gospel. May your inward strength and outward sphere increase day by day! May God use you as a choice and singular instrument of promoting His glory on earth! And may I see you crowned with an eternal and exceeding weight of glory in the world to come! This is the hearty desire of, honoured sir, yours most affectionately in Christ Jesus,

"George Whitefield."

An exquisitely beautiful epistle! All must lament that, soon after this, there was a temporary estrangement between these faithful and loving men.

Two days after the date of the foregoing letter, Whitefield wrote to his friend, Benjamin Ingham, and abruptly announced that he believed it was the will of God that he should marry; but, at the same time, prayed that he might not obtain a wife till he could live as though he had none. The reason of this apparently sudden change was, that of the four women who had accompanied him from England to manage his Orphanage in America, one was settled in Philadelphia; another was dead; the third was dying; and the fourth was the only one likely to afford him aid. Whitefield had already fixed his mind upon the young lady whom he intended to ask to be his wife; but certainly he was one of the oddest wooers that ever wooed. Hence the following letters—probably the first love letters of his life, and, without a doubt, among the strangest that an educated and thoroughly unselfish and Christian man ever wrote. The first was[368] addressed to the young lady, the object of his choice; the second to her parents.

"On board the Savannah, April 4, 1740.

"Dear Miss E——, Be not surprised at the contents of this. The letter sent to your honoured father and mother will acquaint you with the reasons.

"Do you think you could undergo the fatigues that must necessarily attend being joined to one who is every day liable to be called to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ? Can you bear to leave your father and kindred's house, and to trust on Him, who feedeth the young ravens that call upon Him, for your own and children's support, supposing it should please Him to bless you with any? Can you undertake to help a husband in the charge of a family, consisting perhaps of a hundred persons? Can you bear the inclemencies of the air, both as to cold and heat, in a foreign climate? Can you, when you have a husband, be as though you had none, and willingly part with him, even for a long season, when his Lord and Master shall call him forth to preach the gospel, and command him to leave you behind?

"If, after seeking to God for direction, and searching your heart, you can say, 'I can do all these things through Christ strengthening me,' what if you and I were joined together in the Lord, and you came with me, at my return from England, to be a helpmeet for me in the management of the Orphan House? I have great reason to believe it is the Divine will that I should alter my condition, and have often thought you were the person appointed for me. I shall still wait on God for direction, and heartily entreat Him that, if this be not of Him, it may come to nought.

"I write thus plainly, because, I trust, I write not from any other principles but the love of God. I shall make it my business to call on the Lord Jesus; and would advise you to consult both Him and your friends. For, in order to obtain a blessing, we should call both the Lord Jesus and His disciples to the marriage. I much like the manner of Isaac's marrying Rebekah; and think no marriage can succeed well, unless both parties concerned are like-minded with Tobias and his wife.

"I think I can call the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to witness that I desire to take you, my sister, to wife, not for lust, but uprightly; and, therefore, I hope He will mercifully ordain, if it be His blessed will we should be joined together, that we may walk as Zacharias and Elisabeth did, in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless. I make no great profession to you, because I believe you think me sincere. The passionate expressions which carnal courtiers use, I think, ought to be avoided by those that would marry in the Lord. I can only promise, by the help of God, to keep my matrimonial vow, and to do what I can towards helping you forward in the great work of your salvation.

"If you think marriage will be in any way prejudicial to your better part, be so kind as to send me a denial. I would not be a snare to you for the world. You need not be afraid of speaking your mind. I trust, I love you only for God, and desire to be joined to you only by His[369] command, and for His sake. With fear and much trembling I write, and shall patiently tarry the Lord's leisure, till He is pleased to incline you, dear Miss E——, to send an answer to your affectionate brother, friend, and servant in Christ,

"George Whitefield."

"On board the Savannah, April 4, 1740.

"My dear Friends,—Since I wrote last, we have buried our sister L——; Rachel I left at Philadelphia; and sister T—— seems to be in a declining state; so that sister A—— alone is like to be left of all the women which came over with me from England.

"I find, by experience, that a mistress is absolutely necessary for the due management of my increasing family, and to take off some of that care which, at present, lies upon me. Besides, I shall, in all probability, at my next return from England, bring more women with me; and I find, unless they are all truly gracious, (or indeed if they are) without a superior, matters cannot be carried on as becometh the gospel of Jesus Christ. It hath been, therefore, much impressed upon my heart that I should marry, in order to have a helpmeet for me in the work, whereunto our dear Lord Jesus hath called me.

"This comes, (like Abraham's servant to Rebekah's relations,) to know whether you think your daughter, Miss E——, is a proper person to engage in such an undertaking? If so, whether you will be pleased to give me leave to propose marriage unto her?

"You need not be afraid of sending me a refusal; for, I bless God, if I know anything of my own heart, I am free from that foolish passion, which the world calls love. I write, only because I believe it is the will of God that I should alter my state; but your denial will fully convince me, that your daughter is not the person appointed by God for me. He knows my heart; I would not marry but for Him, and in Him, for ten thousand worlds. But I have sometimes thought Miss E—— would be my helpmeet; for she has often been impressed upon my heart. I should think myself safer in your family, because so many of you love the Lord Jesus, and, consequently, would be more watchful over my precious and immortal soul.

"After strong crying and tears at the throne of grace for direction, and after unspeakable troubles with my own heart, I write this. Be pleased to spread the letter before the Lord; and, if you think this motion to be of Him, be pleased to deliver the enclosed to your daughter: if not, say nothing, only let me know you disapprove of it, and that shall satisfy, dear sir and madam, your obliged friend and servant in Christ,

"George Whitefield."

Of course, Whitefield's curious courtship failed, as it deserved to fail; but the question naturally arises, Who was the young lady whom Whitefield proposed to marry? There cannot be a doubt that "Dear Miss E——" was Elizabeth Delamotte, the daughter of the Middlesex magistrate,[370] who lived at Blendon, whose son Charles went with the Wesleys to Georgia, and whose son William was now a Moravian preacher, and, (in union with Benjamin Ingham,) was doing his utmost to convert the benighted inhabitants of the West Riding of the county of York. The full address of Whitefield's letter to the parents of "Miss E——" is not given, the editor of Whitefield's collected works merely supplying "To Mr. and Mrs. D——," which coincides with the opinion just expressed. From Charles Wesley's Journal, it is perfectly clear that one of Mr. Delamotte's daughters was named Elizabeth.[323] The reader need not be told that, during the summer of 1739, Whitefield was a frequent and delighted visitor at Mr. Delamotte's house,[324] and that it was here that he wrote his Answer to the Bishop of London's Pastoral Letter. Since his return to America, he had written Mr. Delamotte a most loving letter;[325] and an equally loving one to Mr. Delamotte's wife,[326] both dated "Philadelphia, November 10, 1739." Indeed, unless I am mistaken, he had written to Miss Elizabeth herself. Hence the following extract from a letter "to Miss Elizabeth D——," dated "Savannah, February 1, 1740":—

"You do well to go about doing good; your Master did so before you. Dare, dear Miss, to follow His good example, and never fear the revilings of men. Set your face as a flint against all the adversaries of our Lord. Keep up a close walk and communion with God. Nothing else can preserve you from idols. There is nothing I dread more than having my heart drawn away by earthly objects. For, alas! what room can there be for God, when a rival has taken possession of the heart? Oh, my dear sister, pray that no such evil may befall me. My blood runs cold at the very thought thereof.

"In a multiplicity of business, have I written you these lines. I thank you for your kind letter; and hope I shall always retain a grateful sense of the many favours I have received from your dear family. My kindest respects attend your sister. I long to hear of her being brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. How does your father? how does my dear brother Charles? and how does your little sister? My heart is now full. Writing quickens me. I could almost drop a tear, and wish myself, for a moment or two, in England. But hush, nature![371] God here pours down His blessings on your sincere friend and servant in Christ,

"George Whitefield."

All this is presumptive evidence; the following is direct. Whitefield wrote his love letters on April 4, 1740. On the 28th day of the same month, he dispatched his friend Seward to England, on important business. On the 26th of June next ensuing, he wrote as follows to Mr. Seward:—

"Savannah, June 26, 1740.

"My dear Brother Seward—I have received many agreeable letters from England; but find, from Blendon letters, that Miss E—— D—— is in a seeking state only. Surely that will not do. I would have one that is full of faith and the Holy Ghost. My poor family gives me more concern than all things else put together. I want a gracious woman that is dead to everything but Jesus, and is qualified to govern children, and direct persons of her own sex. Such a one would help, and not retard, me in my dear Lord's work. I wait upon the Lord every moment; I hang upon my Jesus; and He daily assures me He will not permit me to fall by the hands of a woman. I am almost tempted to wish I had never undertaken the Orphan House. At other times, I am willing to contrive matters so that I may not marry. My dearest brother, adieu! By this time, I trust, you are near England. Take heed that the people you bring believe on Jesus," etc., etc.

The reader will excuse the length of these extracts. This was really one of the most curious of the little episodes in Whitefield's life; and no previous biographer has attempted to shew who the lady was whom Whitefield proposed to make his wife.

On April 2, Whitefield and William Seward, embarked in their own sloop, the Savannah, and, after a ten days' voyage, landed at Newcastle, in the province of Pennsylvania, where they were kindly entertained by Mr. Grafton. The day (April 13) being Sunday, and the episcopal minister of the parish being ill, Whitefield was allowed the use of his pulpit, and, at once, commenced preaching. After the morning service, William Seward rode to Christian Bridge, and to Whiteclay Creek, (where Charles Tennent was the Presbyterian minister,) for the purpose of announcing that Whitefield would preach again at Newcastle in the afternoon. Such was the young preacher's popularity, that the service in the Presbyterian meeting-house was given up, and Tennent and[372] above two hundred others mounted their horses, and galloped to Newcastle, arriving in time to hear Whitefield's sermon on the conversion of Zaccheus.

"Mr. Tennent," says Seward, "informed us of the great success which had attended our brother Whitefield's preaching, when we were here last. For some time, a general silence was fixed on people's minds, and many began seriously to think on what foundation they stood. A general outward reformation has been visible. Many ministers have been quickened, and congregations are increased."[327]

On Monday, April 14, at eleven in the morning, Whitefield preached at Wilmington to about three thousand, using as his pulpit the balcony of the house where he lodged. At night, he and his friends arrived at Philadelphia. Seward writes:—

"On our arrival, though late, many friends came to see us, particularly Mr. Jones, the Baptist minister, who told us of two other ministers, Mr. Treat and Mr. Morgan, who were so affected by our brother Whitefield's spirit, that the latter had gone forth preaching towards the sea coast in the Jerseys, and in many other places; and the former had told his congregation that he had been hitherto deceiving himself and them, and that he could not preach again at present, but desired them to join in prayer with him."[328]

No wonder that Whitefield's enthusiastic soul was stirred within him. In a letter, written on the day he reached Philadelphia, he says:—

"People are much alarmed already. I find God has been pleased to do great things, by what He enabled me to deliver when last here. Two ministers have been convinced of their formal state, notwithstanding they held and preached the doctrines of grace. One plainly told the congregation he had been deceiving himself and them, and could not preach any more, but desired the people to pray with him. The other is now a flame of fire, and has been much owned of God. Very many, I believe, of late have been brought savingly to believe on the Lord Jesus. The work much increases. A primitive spirit revives; and many, I hope, will be brought to live steadfast in the apostle's doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayer."

Whitefield spent nine days, from April 14 to 23, in Philadelphia and its immediate neighbourhood. The enthusiasm created by his visit was enormous. His friends erected a[373] stage for him on what was called Society Hill, and around this, as if drawn by magic, his immense congregations gathered. First of all he applied for the use of the parish church, but the clergyman refused, because Whitefield had "written against Archbishop Tillotson."[329] Upon this, Whitefield, as usual, made the open air his church, and, in this quiet Quaker city, preached to audiences numbering from five to fifteen thousand people each. Remembering how recently the city had been founded, and bearing in mind the sparseness of the surrounding populations, the wonder is how such vast crowds were drawn together. In this respect, a congregation of thirty thousand in Moorfields was a small affair when compared with a congregation of ten thousand on Society Hill, in Philadelphia. The power accompanying Whitefield's preaching was marvellous. Numbers, including several negroes, came to him privately, deeply convinced of sin, and asking his advice and prayers. The clergyman of the Church of England preached a sermon, from James ii. 18, upon justification by works. In the evening of the same day, Whitefield, on Society Hill, took the same text, and preached, to about fifteen thousand people, a sermon on justification by faith, after which he made a collection for his Orphan House, amounting to 80 currency. This was the second collection, for the same object, which Whitefield made on that memorable Sabbath; for, in the early morning, at seven o'clock, he had preached to about ten thousand, and collected for his orphans 110 sterling. His friend, William Seward, with the connivance of the owner, locked the doors, and took away the keys, of "the Assembly-room, the Dancing School, and the Music Meeting," promising to pay the proprietor for any loss he might sustain. The enemies of Whitefield were enraged by this proceeding, and "some gentlemen," says Seward, "threatened to cane me."[330] "Scoffers," writes Whitefield, "muttered in coffee-houses, cursed, drunk a bowl of punch, and then cried out against me for not preaching up more morality."[331]

Whitefield did not confine his preaching to Philadelphia.[374] During his nine days' visit, he preached, from a horse-block, to three thousand people, at Abington,[332] the place where the Rev. Mr. Treat, already mentioned, had been the minister. Accompanied by a cavalcade of about forty persons, he rode to Whitemarsh and to German Town, and preached, in each place, to assembled thousands. He went to Greenwich, in the West Jerseys, and to Gloucester, about four miles from Philadelphia, many of the Philadelphians forming part of his audience, and singing in the boats all the way there and back.

Benjamin Franklin writes respecting Whitefield's present visit to Philadelphia as follows:—

"Mr. Whitefield preached up this charity" (the Orphan House), "and made large collections; for his eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance. I did not disapprove of the design; but, as Georgia was then destitute of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at great expense, I thought it would have been better to have built the house at Philadelphia, and to have brought the children to it. This I advised; but he was resolute in his first project, and rejected my counsel; and I, therefore, refused to contribute. I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection; and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had, in my pocket, a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded, I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another stroke of his oratory determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon, there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, emptied his pockets before he came from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong inclination to give, and applied to a neighbour, who stood near him, to lend him money for the purpose. The request was fortunately made to, perhaps, the only man in the company who had the firmness not to be affected by the preacher. His answer was, 'At any other time, friend Hopkinson, I would lend thee freely, but not now, for thee seems to me to be out of thy right senses.'"

Franklin adds:—


"Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to suppose that he would apply these collections to his own private emolument; but I, who was intimately acquainted with him, (being employed in printing his sermons, journals, etc.,) never had the least suspicion of his integrity; but am, to this day, decidedly of opinion that he was, in all his conduct, a perfectly honest man. Our friendship was sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death. He used sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Upon one of his arrivals from England, at Boston, he wrote to me that he should come soon to Philadelphia, but knew not where he could lodge when there, as his old friend and host, Mr. Benezet, was removed to German Town. My answer was, 'You know my house. If you can make shift with its scanty accommodation, you will be most heartily welcome.' He replied that, if I made that kind offer for Christ's sake, I should not miss of a reward. And I returned, 'Don't let me be mistaken; it is not for Christ's sake, but for your sake.' This incident will shew the terms on which we stood.

"The last time I saw Mr. Whitefield was in London, when he consulted me about his Orphan-house concern, and his purpose of appropriating it to the establishment of a college. He had a loud and clear voice,[333] and articulated his words so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories observed the most perfect silence.[334] He preached one evening from the top of the Court House steps, which are in the middle of Market Street, and on