A shift was taking place: Whitefield had personally experienced the new birth, and now he was boldly declaring it to others.
In 1736 George Whitefield was officially ordained as an Anglican Minister and set about preaching. Outwardly unimpressive, yet inwardly fervent in his love for God and people, Whitefield began preaching.
‘I preached’, he tells us in his Journals, ‘as usual about five times a week…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 from want of room as came in, and it was with great difficulty that I got into the [pulpit].’ (GW Journals, Banner of Truth edition, p.84-85)
As Whitefield’s popularity grew and more and more were experiencing the new birth, it became evident that something bigger than the stir caused by a young preacher was taking place. Scenes of religious excitement that had never been witnessed before now began to take place daily.
Increasing conversions, increasing interest
A little later, and still a year before the Wesleys brothers’ conversion, George was able to write:
‘The sight of the congregations was [awesome]. One might as it were, walk upon the people’s heads…They were all attention, and heard like people hearing for eternity.’
‘I now preached generally nine times a week. The early sacraments were exceeding [awesome]…how often have we seen Jesus Christ, evidently set forth before us, crucified!’
‘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…[the people] were so deeply affected that they were like persons mourning for a first born child.’ (Arnold Dallimore, Life of George Whitefield, Vol 1, p.30-31)
Whitefield senses his destiny and prays courageously
Whitefield sensed he was on the edge of a powerful breakthrough and on December 30 1737 prayed, ‘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!’
© 2009 Lex Loizides