The Passion of the Evangelist: Whitefield Preaches in America

George Whitefield, the Evangelist
George Whitefield, the Evangelist

(Part Three – see Part One and Two)
Nathan Cole and his wife had heard that the famous Evangelist George Whitefield would be preaching in Middletown, just 12 miles from their farm.

They immediately stopped what they were doing, saddled the horse and rode as fast as they could to get to the meeting place.

Cole describes how, as they approached Middletown, a great fog or cloud appeared. As they got nearer, it was clear that the fog was created by the hundreds of  horses and carriages, and the thousands of people rushing and racing to get to the meeting place.

Finally, the young couple find a place among the four thousand gathered and wait until Whitefield appears.

Whitefield gets up to preach
He writes, ‘When I saw Mr Whitefield come up upon the scaffold he looked almost angelic.

‘A young, slim, slender youth before thousands of people and with a bold, undaunted countenance and my hearing how God was with him everywhere he went solemnized my mind and put me in a trembling fear before he began to preach.

‘For he looked as if he was clothed with authority from the great God.’

Whitefield preached passionately and powerfully. He spoke of how Jesus paid the price in full for our sins, how forgiveness is available through the cross, how a person can truly find peace with God through faith in Christ and receive His free righteousness. He told the people how God has made a way to forgive sins and bring us to heaven.

What the Evangelist Said
A short segment of his often preached sermon, ‘The Lord our Righteousness’ gives us an idea of what he would have said on this occasion. He has already preached the gospel and is now making his appeal for the people to respond to the message:

‘Alas, my heart almost bleeds! What a multitude of precious souls are now before me! How shortly must all be ushered into eternity! And yet, O cutting thought! Was God now to require all your souls, how few, comparatively speaking, could really say, ‘the Lord our righteousness!’

‘…You need not fear the greatness or number of your sins. For are you sinners? So am I. Are you the chief of sinners? So am I. Are you backsliding sinners? So am I. And yet the Lord (for ever adored be his rich, free and sovereign grace) the Lord is my righteousness.

Come then, O young man, who (as I acted once myself) are playing the prodigal, and wandering away afar off from your heavenly Father’s house, come home, come home, and leave your swine’s trough. Feed no longer on the husks of sensual delights: for Christ’s sake arise, and come home!

‘Your heavenly Father now calls you. See yonder the best robe, even the righteousness of his dear Son, awaits you. See it, view it again and again.

‘Consider at how dear a rate it was purchased, even by the blood of God. Consider what great need you have of it. You are lost, undone, damned for ever, without it. Come then, poor, guilty prodigals, come home…’

A Broad Appeal to All
During this evangelistic appeal, he is eager that no-one be left out. He speaks specifically to young women, to young men, to merchants, to the slaves listening, to those ‘of middle age’, to the children, to those in their later years:

‘Alas, you have one foot already in the grave, your glass is just run out, your sun is just going down, and it will set and leave you in an eternal darkness, unless the Lord be your righteousness! Flee then, O flee for your lives!’

Nathan Cole, standing with his wife, in the midst of thousands, listening to Whitefield, said this:

‘My hearing him preach gave me a heart wound and by God’s blessing my old foundation was broken up and I saw that my righteousness would not save me.’

Cole did finally come to Christ and was changed forever.
(Sources: Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield Vol.1, Banner of Truth, p541 and John Pollock, George Whitefield, Hodder, p164f)

What about us?
Where do you stand with God today? These truths are not only for yesterday but for today. You can come to Christ today.

Perhaps you are already a follower of Christ. Do you know something of this passion to communicate the gospel to others? Are you eager to see those you work with come to Christ?

Wherever you are, in whatever circumstance, you can appeal to God for mercy because of what Jesus has done for you. He came, He died, He rose again and He will hear your prayer and help you come into a genuine relationship with Him. Sins can be washed away, life can be transformed and you can become a part of God’s great purpose in the earth.

If you don’t know what to do there may be a church near you listed here or try here for more help.

‘The Lord our Righteousness’ is published in ‘The Select Sermons of George Whitefield’ (Banner of Truth). You can order it here.

© 2009 Lex Loizides


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

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