George P. Landow scanned, added paragraphing, formatted in html, and linked the text. Whitfield preaching in Moorfields AD Eyre Crowe Exhibited in the Royal Academy. Click on image to enlarge it. George Whitefield, a pre-eminent evangelist and founder of the Calvinistic branch of the Methodists , was a native of Gloucester, England, in the Bell Inn of which town his father being a tavern-keeper he was born, Dec.
His father having died while George was yet young, the boy's education devolved solely on his mother, whose pious instructions and example had a powerful influence in imbuing his infant mind with strong religious impressions. Having resolved to cultivate the superior talents with which she saw George was endowed, she sent him to a classical school.
At the age of fifteen he had distinguished himself by the accuracy and extent of his knowledge, and by his taste in Greek and Roman literature. But his mother not succeeding in the hotel, and becoming reduced to poverty, the progress of George's education was stopped, and, being driven to undertake some menial place about the establishment, his manners and morals were much injured byhis association with irreligious servants. Happily his religious impressions revived, and, having been confirmed? His mother's circumstances improving.
Benson, bishop of Gloucester, who was acquainted with his rare talents and piety, resolved to grant him ordination, and the solemn ceremony was performed at Gloucester on June 20, His first sermon, preached the following sabbath, produced an extraordinary sensation. From Gloucester he went to London, where he preached alternately at the chapel of the Tower and at Ludgate Prison every Tuesday.
In he joined his friends the Wesleys as a missionary at the Georgian settlement; but he had only been four months resident there, when he returned to England both to obtain priest's orders and to raise subscriptions for erecting an orphan-house in that settlement. On his arrival in London, he found an outcry raised against him on account of Methodism. Bishop Benson disregarded it and ordained him a priest. But he was denied access to the pulpits of many old friends; and hence he commenced the practice of open-air preaching in Moorfields, Kennington, Blackheath, and other quarters, where his ministrations were attended by vast crowds.
At Savannah immense crowds repaired to hear him, and extraordinary scenes of excitement were enacted. On March 25, , he laid the first brick of the orphan-asylum; and when the building was completed, he gave it the name of Bethesda. Although his ministry was very successful at Savannah, he sighed for his native land ; and accordingly, in , he returned once more to Britain, where he continued with indefatigable diligence to preach the Gospel.
In prosecution of that object, he made a tour through England, Wales, and Scotland, preaching in many places, and always in the open air, to immense crowds. While in Wales, he married Mrs. Jones, a widow to whom he had long cherished a warm attachment; and shortly after his marriage he repaired to London, where, it being winter, some of his admirers erected a wooden shed in which he preached, and which he called the Tabernacle.
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He was under the patronage of the countess dowager of Huntingdon, to whom he was chaplain, and whose benevolence he shared especially in the support of the community of which he was the head. At the death of that lady, her place was filled by lady Erskine. In the beginning of August, , Mr.
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Whitefield, though in an infirm state of health, embarked again for America. At New York he was taken exceedingly ill, and his death was apprehended; but he gradually recovered and resumed his arduous and important duties. He was still very much inconvenienced with pains in his side, for which he was advised to go to the Bermudas.
Whitefield, George (DNB00)
Landing there on March 15, , he met with the kindest reception, and traversed the island from one end to the other, preaching twice every day. On the return of Mr. Whitefield, he found his congregation at the Tabernacle very much scattered, and his own pecuniary circumstances declining, all his household furniture having been sold to pay the orphan-house debt. His congregation now, however, began to contribute, and his debt was slowly liquidating. At this time lady Huntingdon sent for him to preach at her house to several of the nobility, who desired to hear him; among whom was the earl of Chesterfield, who expressed himself highly gratified; and lord Bolingbroke told him he had done great justice to the divine attributes in his discourse.
In September he visited Scotland a third time and was joyfully received. In February, he made an excursion to Exeter and Plymouth, where he was received with enthusiasm, and in the same year he returned to London, having travelled about six hundred miles in the west of England; and in May he went to Portsmouth and Ports, at which places he was eminently useful; many at that time, by the instrumentality of his preaching, being turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
In Mr. Whitefield visited Ireland, and was gladly received at Dublin; his labors there were, as usual, very useful. From Ireland he proceeded to Scotland, where he also met with great encouragement to proceed in his indefatigable work. On Aug. On Oct. Elizabeth Whitefield's grave is unmarked. After their —48 stay in America, she never accompanied him on his travels. Whitefield reflected that "none in America could bear her". His wife believed that she had been "but a load and burden" to him. Cornelius Winter , who for a time lived with the Whitefields, observed that Whitefield "was not happy in his wife".
Thus, "her death set his mind much at liberty". After suffering four miscarriages, their only child, a son, died when four months old. In , the year-old Whitefield continued preaching in spite of poor health. He said, "I would rather wear out than rust out. It was John Wesley who preached his funeral sermon in London, at Whitefield's request. His will stated that all this money had lately been left him 'in a most unexpected way and unthought of means. In terms of theology, Whitefield, unlike John Wesley , was a supporter of Calvinism.
At the Pulpits of Gloucester: The Sermons of George Whitefield on Apple Books
It is a prevailing misconception that Whitefield was not primarily an organizer like Wesley. However, as Wesleyan historian Luke Tyerman states, "It is notable that the first Calvinistic Methodist Association was held eighteen months before Wesley held his first Methodist Conference. His patronization by the Countess of Huntingdon reflected this emphasis on practice. Whitefield welcomed opposition because as he said, "the more I am opposed, the more joy I feel". In his visit to Charles Town, it "took Whitefield only four days to plunge Charles Town into religious and social controversy.
Whitefield thought he might be martyred for his views. After he attacked the established church he predicted that he would "be set at nought by the Rabbies of our Church, and perhaps at last be killed by them". Whitefield chastised other clergy for teaching only "the shell and shadow of religion" because they did not hold the necessity of a new birth without which a person would be "thrust down into Hell". In his — visit to America as he had done in England , he attacked other clergy mostly Anglican calling them "God's persecutors".
Whitefield issued a blanket indictment of New England's Congregational ministers for their "lack of zeal". After Whitefield preached at St. Philip's, Charleston , the Commissary, Alexander Garden suspended him. After being suspended, Whitefield attacked all South Carolina's Anglican clergy in print. In , Whitefield published attacks on "the works of two of Anglicanism's revered seventeenth-century authors".
Whitefield wrote that John Tillotson , archbishop of Canterbury — , had "no more been a true Christian than had Muhammad". At least once Whitefield had his followers burn the tract "with great Detestation". He preached against Wesley, arguing that Wesley's attacks on predestination had alienated "very many of my spiritual children". Wesley replied that Whitefield's attacks were "treacherous" and that Whitefield had made himself "odious and contemptible". Whitefield had been influenced by the Moravian Church , but in he condemned them and attacked their leader, Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf and their practices.
English, Scottish, and American clergy attacked Whitefield, often in response to his attacks on them and Anglicanism, as documented in this section. Early in his career, Whitefield criticized the Church of England. In response, clergy called Whitefield one of "the young quacks in divinity" who are "breaking the peace and unity" of the church. From to , Whitefield issued seven Journals. Joseph Trapp called the Journals "blasphemous" and accused Whitefield of being "besotted either with pride or madness". In England, by when he was ordained priest, Whitefield wrote that "the spirit of the clergy began to be much embittered" and that "churches were gradually denied me".
He rejected ecclesiastical authority claiming that 'the whole world is now my parish'. These attacks resulted in hostile responses and reduced attendance at his London open-air preaching. In , Whitefield made his first visit to Scotland at the invitation of "Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine , leaders of the breakaway Associate Presbytery.
The life and legacy of George Whitefield
When they demanded and Whitefield refused that he preach only in their churches, they attacked him as a " sorcerer" and a "vain-glorious, self-seeking, puffed-up creature". In addition, Whitefield's collecting money for his Bethesda orphanage, combined with the hysteria evoked by his open-air sermons, resulted in bitter attacks in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Whitefield's itinerant preaching throughout the colonies was opposed by Bishop Benson who had ordained him for a settled ministry in Georgia. Whitefield replied that if bishops did not authorize his itinerant preaching, God would give him the authority.
In , Jonathan Edwards invited Whitefield to preach in his church in Northampton. Edwards was "deeply disturbed by his unqualified appeals to emotion, his openly judging those he considered unconverted, and his demand for instant conversions". Whitefield refused to discuss Edwards' misgivings with him. Later, Edwards delivered a series of sermons containing but "thinly veiled critiques" of Whitefield's preaching, "warning against over-dependence upon a preacher's eloquence and fervency".
During Whitefield's — visit to America, ten critical pamphlets were published, two by officials of Harvard and Yale. This criticism was in part evoked by Whitefield's criticism of "their education and Christian commitment" in his Journal of Whitefield saw this opposition as "a conspiracy" against him.
Philip's, Charleston , the Commissary, Alexander Garden suspended him as a "vagabond clergyman. When Whitefield preached in a dissenting church and "the congregation's response was dismal," he ascribed the response to "the people's being hardened" as were "Pharaoh and the Egyptians" in the Bible. Many New Englanders claimed that Whitefield destroyed "New England's orderly parish system, communities, and even families". The "Declaration of the Association of the County of New Haven, " stated that after Whitefield's preaching "religion is now in a far worse state than it was".
After Whitefield condemned Moravians and their practices, his former London printer a Moravian , called Whitefield "a Mahomet, a Caesar, an imposter, a Don Quixote, a devil, the beast, the man of sin, the Antichrist". In the open air in Dublin , Ireland , Whitefield condemned Roman Catholicism , inciting an attack by "hundreds and hundreds of papists" who cursed and wounded him severely and smashed his portable pulpit. On various occasions, a woman assaulted Whitefield with "scissors and a pistol, and her teeth". A man almost killed him with a brass-headed cane.
Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon made Whitefield her personal chaplain. In her chapel, it was noted that his preaching was "more Considered among persons of a Superior Rank" who attended the Countess's services. Whitefield was humble before the Countess saying that he cried when he was "thinking of your Ladyship's condescending to patronize such a dead dog as I am".
He now said that he "highly esteemed bishops of the Church of England because of their sacred character". He confessed that in "many things" he had "judged and acted wrong" and had "been too bitter in my zeal". In , in a defense of Methodism, Whitefield "repeated contrition for much contained in his Journals". In the First Great Awakening , rather than listening demurely to preachers, people groaned and roared in enthusiastic emotion. Whitefield was a "passionate preacher" who often "shed tears".
Underlying this was his conviction that genuine religion "engaged the heart, not just the head". In his preaching, Whitefield used a number of rhetorical ploys that were characteristic of theater, an artistic medium largely unknown in colonial America. Stout refers to him as a "divine dramatist" and ascribes his success to the theatrical sermons which laid foundations to a new form of pulpit oratory. Whitefield's "Abraham Offering His Son Isaac" is an example of a sermon whose whole structure resembles a theatrical play. As observed by , p. New divinity schools opened to challenge the hegemony of Yale and Harvard; personal experience became more important than formal education for preachers.
Such concepts and habits formed a necessary foundation for the American Revolution. Whitefield's sermons were widely reputed to inspire his audience's enthusiasm. Many of them as well as his letters and journals were published during his lifetime. He was an excellent orator as well, strong in voice and adept at extemporaneity. His journals, originally intended only for private circulation, were first published by Thomas Cooper. His exuberant and "too apostolical" language were criticised; his journals were no longer published after Whitefield prepared a new installment in —45, but it was not published until In , a vigorously edited version of his journals and autobiographical accounts was published.
His writings were "intended to convey Whitefield and his life as a model for biblical ethics After Whitefield's death, John Gillies , a Glasgow friend, published a memoir and six volumes of works, comprising three volumes of letters, a volume of tracts, and two volumes of sermons. Another collection of sermons was published just before he left London for the last time in These were disowned by Whitefield and Gillies, who tried to buy all copies and pulp them. They had been taken down in shorthand, but Whitefield said that they made him say nonsense on occasion.
These sermons were included in a 19th-century volume, Sermons on Important Subjects , along with the "approved" sermons from the Works. An edition of the journals, in one volume, was edited by William Wale in This was reprinted with additional material in by the Banner of Truth Trust. It lacks the Bermuda journal entries found in Gillies' biography and the quotes from manuscript journals found in 19th-century biographies.
A comparison of this edition with the original 18th-century publications shows numerous omissions—some minor and a few major. Whitefield also wrote several hymns. Charles Wesley composed a hymn in , "Hark, how all the welkin rings". Whitefield revised the opening couplet in for " Hark, the Herald Angels Sing ". George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century.
Newspapers called him the 'marvel of the age'. Whitefield was a preacher capable of commanding thousands on two continents through the sheer power of his oratory. In his lifetime, he preached at least 18, times to perhaps 10 million hearers. Whitefield, Bangalore a neighbourhood in Bangalore is named after him.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the American football quarterback, see George Whitfield, Jr. The Reverend. Portrait by John Russell , Gloucester , Great Britain. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved Crypt School. Retrieved 26 August Durell, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford; occasioned by a late expulsion of six students from Edmund-Hall. University of Oxford Text Archive. University of Oxford. Wesley Center.
Retrieved 21 November Brethren Archive. Christian History. Retrieved 3 July Church Publishing. Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society. British History Online. Methodist History. Gordon Digital Puritan. Retrieved 1 July Church History. Mercer University Press. George Whitefield. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Houghton, Mifflin and Company. JHU Press.
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History Today. American Philosophical Society Library. Retrieved 11 October Penn State University. The Christian Century. Retrieved 29 March Longmans, Green, and Company. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. The Journal of John Wesley online. Chicago: Moody Press. Archived from the original on Casemate Publishers. Indiana University. Methodist Book Concern.
A Caution against Enthusiasm. Being the second part of the late Bishop of London's fourth Pastoral Letter. In Lee, Sidney ed. Dictionary of National Biography. Holden, ,