Struggling for Life: Multitudes Race to Hear the Gospel Being Preached

A young couples’ morning is turned upside down when they hear news that George Whitefield, the famous English Evangelist, will be preaching in a nearby town.

It’s October 23 1740, and farmer Nathan Cole throws down his tools, runs to the house, unties the horse and he and his wife begin the fervent race towards the field where Whitefield is about to preach.

They had to cover 12 miles in a short time. But as they discovered, thousands of others were eagerly running, riding, racing towards the great event.

If you are picking up the story here then you might like to read Part One.

(Part Two)
A low rumbling thunder
Nathan continues the story:

‘Then I saw before me a great cloud or fog.

‘I first thought it was from the great river but as I came nearer the road I heard a noise something like a low rumbling thunder and I presently found out it was the rumbling of horses feet coming down the road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by the running of horses feet.

‘It rose high into the air above the tops of the hills and trees.

‘And when I came closer into the cloud I could see men and horses slipping along  – it was like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another all of a lather and foam with sweat, their breath rolling out of their nostrils.

‘I found a [gap] between two horses to slip in my horse.  No one spoke a word but everyone pressing forward with great haste.

‘When we got down to the old meeting house there was a great multitude.  It was said to be three or four thousand and when I looked towards the great river I could see ferry boats running swift forwards and backwards bringing over loads of people, and the oars rowed nimble and quick.

‘Everything, men, horses and boats seemed to be struggling for life.’

(Sources: Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield Vol.1, Banner of Truth, p541 and John Pollock, George Whitefield, Hodder, p164f)

To be continued…

Read Part Three here

© Lex Loizides

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Spiritual Hunger and Satisfaction in Whitefield’s Ministry – an Eye Witness Account

George Whitefield
George Whitefield

(Part One)
Four Thousand Gather in an American Field
The same power, which attended George Whitefield’s evangelistic meetings in Britain, was also very evident in America.

Let’s take a closer look at the kind of excitement generated when it was announced that he would be preaching. There is little doubt that the description of the gathering we are about to enjoy is not exceptional but was rather typical of Great Awakening meetings certainly until 1745 in America.

On October 23 1740, during his second American visit, he preached at Middletown, Connecticut. Whitefield states in his Journal with unpretentious familiarity, ‘Preached to about four thousand people at eleven o’clock.’

Obviously, he felt there was nothing particularly unusual about the meeting.  History has, however, preserved a spectator’s account of the same meeting, which makes fascinating reading.

Nathan Cole

Nathan Cole, one of the 4000 present, describes the scene when the news that Whitefield would preach was announced:

‘Now it pleased God to send Mr. Whitefield into this land and I longed to see and hear him.

‘Then one morning, all on a sudden, there came a messenger who said, ‘Mr. Whitefield is to preach at Middletown this morning at 10 O’clock.

‘I was in my field at work.  I dropped my tool that I had in my hand and ran home and through the house and bade my wife to get ready quick to go and hear Mr. Whitefield preach.

‘I ran to my pasture for my horse with all my might, fearing that I should be too late to hear him and took up my wife 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 told her.

‘And so I would run until I was almost out of breath and then mount my horse again.

‘We improved every moment to get along as though we were fleeing for our lives, fearing we should be too late to hear the sermon, for we had twelve miles to ride in little more than an hour.’

(Sources: Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield Vol.1, Banner of Truth, p541 and John Pollock, George Whitefield, Hodder, p164f)
To be continued…

Read Part Two here

© 2009 Lex Loizides