George Whitefield: Wayfaring Witness

George Whitefield: Wayfaring Witness

George Whitefield: Wayfaring Witness

George Whitefield: Wayfaring Witness

Excerpt

Between the summer of 1736 and September of 1770, George Whitefield preached no less then eighteen thousand times. He preached in churches and fields, in foundries, courthouses, and barns --from wagons, balconies, horseback, boats, and windows. Men flocked to hear him in vast throngs. It is impossible to say for what countless thousands his creed became their creed and his faith their faith.

George Whitefield was an ordained priest of the Church of England. He was also the goad and companion of the fops at Bath, confidant of the outcasts who peopled Hogarth's lusty London, idol of "awakened" Christians on two continents, and the bane of bishops within his own communion. For more than three decades he exhorted the British Isles. He visited America seven times, and he improved the occasions of his transit by preaching on the high seas. In his full life he published pamphlets, directed charity drives, instituted schools, and founded an orphanage. His remarkable personal history is the context for the presentation of his message.

The manner, no less than the matter, of his preaching made Whitefield a pivot of controversy. His message was variously received. He was styled saint and devil. Some took him for a knave; others called him a fool. There was no unanimity regarding him in the Christian community. Bishops wrote against him. Commissaries railed at him. Ministers denied him their pulpits. Whitefield met his opposers head on, waited on authorities, and charged boldly into the strongholds of his enemies. His own spirit was not always above reproach, for he made telling use of irony and offered invective in a professed meekness. And all the while many called him "blessed. . . ."

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