When he was just 25 years old, the English Evangelist George Whitefield visited the American town of Northampton, the town made famous by a revival in the 1730’s.
An article in the Princeton Theological Review (Vol 2, No.4, 1904), makes reference to the impact of the Great Awakening in both Great Britain and America, noting that ‘The chief personal bond between the two branches of this evangelistic movement was George Whitefield’.
One of the great joys of this visit, and of real interest to us, is the meeting and subsequent friendship of Whitefield and Edwards, the Evangelist and the Theologian.
Whitefield describes their meeting in his journal:
‘Friday, October 17, 1740
When I had taken a little Refreshment, we crossed the Ferry to Northampton, where no less than 300 Souls…were savingly brought Home to the dear Lord Jesus about 5 or 6 Years ago.
‘Their Pastor’s Name is Edwards, Successor and Grandson to the great Stoddard, whose Memory will be always precious to my Soul, and whose Books…I would recommend to all.
‘Mr. Edwards is a solid, excellent Christian, but at present weak in Body.
‘I think, I may say I have not seen his Fellow in all New-England. When I came into his Pulpit, I found my Heart drawn out to talk of scarce any Thing besides the Consolations and Privileges of Saints, and the plentiful Effusion of the Spirit upon the Hearts of Believers.
‘And, when I came to remind them of their former Experiences, and how zealous and lively they were at that Time, both Minister and People wept much; and the Holy Ghost enabled me to speak with a great deal of Power.’
(George Whitefield Journals, unedited version, Quinta Press – but see here for Banner of Truth edition)
And so, these two giants in their fields met and became firm friends.
For Part 2 of this story see here
For more resources on Jonathan Edwards visit the excellent Jonathan Edwards Centre at Yale University
© 2009 Lex Loizides