Some one once said George Whitefield preached a pure gospel, a powerful gospel and a passionate gospel. He was a man of deep prayer, tremendous spiritual fortitude with a burdened heart, burning lips and brimming eyes. A contemporary of Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley, he was an English Anglican preacher who spent most of his life spreading the gospel by preaching in open air and was one of the major instruments of God used in the Great Awakening in Britain and the United States.
He drew great crowds when he preached to people from all walks of life. From a lordly chamber heavy with the pungent aroma of costly perfumes, Whitefield would race off to a street meeting. Catch his joy as he says, “There I was honored with having stones, dirt, rotten eggs, and pieces of dead cats thrown at me.”
O that the Lord would be pleased to pass by some of you at this time! O that he may call you by his Spirit, and make you a willing people in this day of his power! For I know my calling will not do, unless he, by his efficacious grace, compel you to come in. O that you once felt what it is to receive Jesus Christ into your hearts! You would soon, like Zaccheus, give him everything. You do not love Christ, because you do not know him; you do not come to him, because you do not feel your want of him: you are whole, and not broken hearted; you are not sick, at least not sensible of your sickness; and, therefore, no wonder you do not apply to Jesus Christ, that great, that almighty physician. You do not feel yourselves lost, and therefore do not seek to be found in Christ. O that God would wound you with the sword of his Spirit, and cause his arrows of conviction to stick deep in your hearts!
This is the true account of Nathan Cole describing the moment he heard that the gospel was coming to Connecticut. George Whitefield was the preacher -as fields were emptied, people converged eagerly to listen with bated breaths.
“Now it pleased God to send Mr. Whitefield into this land; and my hearing of his preaching at Philadelphia, like one of the Old apostles, and many thousands flocking to hear him preach the Gospel, and great numbers were converted to Christ; I felt the Spirit of God drawing me by conviction, longed to see and hear him, and wished he would come this way. And I soon heard he was come to New York and the Jerseys and great multitudes flocking after him under great concern for their Souls and many converted which brought on my concern more and more hoping soon to see him but next I heard he was at Long Island, then at Boston, and next at Northampton.
Then one morning all on a Sudden, about 8 or 9 o’clock there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitefield preached at Hartford and Weathersfield yesterday and is to preach at Middletown this morning [October 23, 1740] at ten of the Clock. I was in my field at Work. I dropt my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and run through my house and bade my wife get ready quick to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach at Middletown, and run to my pasture for my horse with all my might fearing that I should be too late to hear him.
I brought my horse home and soon mounted and took my wife up and went forward as fast as I thought the horse could bear, and when my horse began to be out of breath, I would get down and put my wife on the Saddle and bid her ride as fast as she could and not Stop or Slack for me except I bad her, and so I would run until I was much out of breath, and then mount my horse again, and so I did several times to favour my horse Read More
Jim Bublitz (who went to be with the Lord last year) had a blog The Old Truth from which I learnt alot in my early days as I came to understand Calvinism/Reformed Theology. Here is an interesting snippet from 2007 of a Q&A post with a reader called Joshua from Malaysia.
Joshua: “Here is a common phrase…..Ask Jesus to come into your heart or life…..is that how calvinists do it? … From a calvinist point of view….. When a sinner is convicted by the Holy Spirit, is there any “sinner’s prayer” to recite? If not…what would be the normal reformed way of doing this? Does “accepting Jesus into our heart” in line with reformed teachings? If not…how would you explain the steps of salvation? I know that it is GOD who chose and justified the sinner…how do you explain to the sinner that he needs to accept Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior? At this point of conversion, from my old arminian school, I am confused that we ‘invite’ Jesus into our hearts….and later was told it was the Holy Spirit… Could you explain this part? As I am now leaning strongly to reformed doctrine, I do not know how to explain this part from the reformed view…“
Jim Bublitz: Joshua, as you may know, some of the most noteworthy soul winners in church history have been Calvinists, and you can look through the writings of many of them including George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon to see the kinds of things they said. The emphasis is much the same as the Apostles as they preached that people should obey the Lord’s command to repent and believe. …Read More!
When it comes to gospel preachers, Lemuel Haynes stands out in the African-American Christian tradition as a powerful gospel preacher in the 19th century. As the first black in America to serve as pastor of a white congregation, Haynes ministered to Rutland’s West Parish for thirty years starting in 1783.
He was the illegitimate child of a black African man and the daughter of a socially prominent white family in Hartford, Connecticut, the five-month-old baby Lemuel was abandoned by his parents and indentured to a white family (Deacon Rose’s family) in Massachusetts. He was adopted as a very young child by solid Calvinist Congregationalists in Massachusetts. He was schooled a bit and self-taught for the most part. He served in the Continental Army until he became quite ill in 1776.
He is said to have began to teach the Scriptures to his friends and family where they realized he had a gift of preaching the gospel. At the family home, Haynes benefited from the devout religious practice and instruction. One biographer described Haynes as “a determined, self-taught student who poured over Scripture until he could repeat from memory most of the texts dealing with the doctrines of grace….” Read More…
Largely forgotten today, George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century. Newspapers called him the “marvel of the age.” He preached with clarity and with tenacity. When George Whitefield, a Calvinist studied the Bible…
“There he is at five in the morning . . . . on his knees with his English Bible, his Greek New Testament and Henry’s Commentary spread out before him. He reads a portion in the English, gains a fuller insight into it as he studies words and tenses in the Greek and then considers Matthew Henry’s explanation of it all. Finally, there comes the unique practice that he has developed: that of ‘praying over every line and word’ of both the English and the Greek till the passage, in its essential message, has veritably become part of his own soul.” ~Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield, I:82-83.
The tension between two great evangelical ministers can never be profound yet graciously loving than the public and personal tensions between George Whitefield and John Wesley. On one front one would easily have had the impression that these two would never even share a drink at a communion table. The most surprising twist was that George Whitefield actually asked Mr Wesley to eulogize at his funeral. But did that bury the proverbial hatchet? Did Whitefield eventually roll over and accept defeat to Wesley? Far from it. Iain Murray in this article rightly summarises this unique conundrum:
The occasion and background of [Whitefield’s letter to Wesley] requires a few words of explanation. From the time of his conversion in 1735, Whitefield had been profoundly conscious of man’s entire depravity, his need of the new birth, and the fact that God can save and God alone. Describing an experience which occurred a few weeks after his conversion, he wrote: “About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace . . .” Strengthened by his reading of the Scriptures, the Reformers and the Puritans, Whitefield gradually grasped the great related chain of truths revealed in the New Testament—the Father’s electing love, Christ’s substitutionary death on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him, and the Spirit’s infallible work in bringing to salvation those for whom it was appointed. These doctrines of “free grace” were the essential theology of his ministry from the very first and consequently the theology of the movement which began under his preaching in 1737. …There’s More!
C.H. Spurgeon invited men to come to Christ, not to an altar.
Listen to him invite men to Jesus Christ
‘Before you leave this place breathe an earnest prayer to God, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner. Lord, I need to be saved. Save me. I call upon Thy name….Lord, I am guilty, I deserve Thy wrath. Lord, I cannot save myself. Lord, I would have a new heart and a right spirit, but what can I do? Lord, I can do nothing, come and work in me to do of Thy good pleasure.Thou alone hast power, I know To save a wretch like me; To whom, or whither should I go If I should run from Thee? There’s More…
A brilliant documentary narrated by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones: George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England. The youngest of seven children, he was born in the Bell Inn where his father, Thomas, was a wine merchant and innkeeper. His father died when George was two and his widowed mother Elizabeth struggled to provide for her family. There’s More…