LONDON: LONGMANS, GREEN,








                                            To the Memory

                                                  OF THE

                                  SELF-SACRIFICING AND CATHOLIC EVANGELIST

                             WHO A HUNDRED YEARS AGO,

                                FOR THE GOSPEL’S SAKE,





                                THIS BOOK


                                     REVERENTLY DEDICATED






Sir James Stephen has placed Whitefield at the head of
what he calls ‘the Evangelical Succession.’ The position
is correctly assigned; Whitefield is the Peter of the
Evangelicals, so far as they are a distinct portion of the
Church of England. It was he who, in modern days,
first preached, with zeal and unexampled success, those
doctrines which they regard with religious veneration; it
was he who gave them much of the phraseology to which
they still cling with steadfast loyalty. But it cannot be
allowed that they, and only they, have the right to claim
an inheritance in him. The wealth of a good heart is for
the enriching of the world; and the triumphs of genius
are a study for scholars of every school. I have there-
fore placed Whitefield in the loftier position of a brother
of all who, in every place and under any denomination,
call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have
striven to put the man, rather than his creed, upon the
pages of this book,—or rather to put the man first, and
his creed second. I have endeavoured to find out, and
lay bare, the real fountain of his never-failing and ex-
ultant joy; of his fiery but gentle zeal; of his universal


viii                             Preface



charity, which, however, was associated with some forbid-
ding and chilling beliefs. Whitefield’s love to God and
love to man—one love—constitute the explanation of his
personal character and of his life's labours. It is true
that, for a time at least, he held the dark and terrible
doctrine of reprobation; and some may think that he
must therefore have been a bigot, and a harsh one too;
but the truth is, that he was altogether without bigotry.
He believed in the infinite love of God more firmly than
in anything else; and this belief tinctured the whole of
his religion.

          I have not looked at him as a theologian, for such he
cannot be called, but as a Christian; and in the following
pages there will not be found any narrative of severe
mental struggles with hard questions concerning God and
‘His ways to men.’ They attempt to reveal a great
heart, stirred with the purest emotion, ever desiring abso-
lute perfection in goodness and unintermittingly seeking
it, resolved to leave nothing undone by which others
might become partakers with itself of the great salvation,
and impatient of all impediments, whether ecclesiastical
or social, that threatened the consummation of its hopes.

          Where Whitefield was in conflict with others, I have
tried to do justice to both sides; and though some things
may seem to bear hardly upon the clergy of his day, I
believe that in no instance have I wronged them to screen
him. His excellences were too great to need adornment,
and his faults too obvious to admit of misapprehension.



                                   Preface                                              ix



          It may be felt, in the course of the narrative, that too
much time has been spent in recounting his preaching
labours, in telling how large were his congregations, how
great the difficulties which he overcame, and how far he
travelled; but I could not see how otherwise to give
the same conception of the man and his work which is
gained by perusing his journals and letters page by page.
The frequent mention of thousands of hearers, though
apparently savouring of the ostentatious, was necessary,
as a simple statement of the truth.

          The last twenty years of Whitefield’s life have received
but slight notice, as compared with that which has been
given to his earlier years; and the reason is, that they
were almost entirely without new features of interest.
They saw no fresh work attempted; they brought to
light no fresh qualities of mind or heart; they simply
witnessed the steady growth of enterprises previously
begun, and of personal qualities previously displayed.

                                                       J. P. GLEDSTONE.


                                         CHAPTER I.



His 'Parentage and Childhood—At Oxford—Among the

Methodists—His Conversion                                                                           1

                                                  CHAPTER II.


His Ordination as Deacon—Essays in Preaching                               29

                                                 CHAPTER III

                                      March, 1737—March, 1738.

Appointed Chaplain to the Georgian Colony—First Popu-
First Voyage                                                                                           48

                                                  CHAPTER IV.


Six Months in GeorgiaSecond Voyage                                              84

                                                    CHAPTER V.

                                  December and January, 1738-39.

Fetter Lane Meetings—Ordained Priest                                               98

     xii                                     CONTENTS.


                  CHAPTER VI.                                            PAGE

                                     February to April, 1739.
   Expelled the ChurchesOpen-air Preaching                                106

                                      CHAPTER VII.

                                  May to August, 1739.

In Moorfields; on Commons; at FAIRS and Races .                         134

                                         CHAPTER VΙΠ.
August, 1739, to March, 1741.

Third VoyageItinerating in AmericaFourth Voyage
Breach with Wesley                                                                                              169


                                         CHAPTER IX.

                              March, 1741, to August, 1744.

Loss of PopularityFirst Visit to Scotland—Conduct of
the Dissenters                                                                                                             248


                                            CHAPTER X.         

                                   August, 1744, to July, 1748.

Fifth Voyage—Adventures and ControversiesWanderings
in America
Invalided in Bermudas—Sixth Voyage                      339


                                            CHAPTER XI.

                                             July, 1748-1752.

Appointed Chaplain to the Countess of HuntingdonA
Slave Owner                                                                                                                 377

                                             CHAPTER XII.


Chapel Building — Attacks by Enemies Infirmities His
DeathThe Results of his Work                                                                  441

               Index                                                                                                                                   523


                       LIFE AND TRAVELS

                GEORGE WHITEFIELD, M.A.

                                 CHAPTER I.



                      METHODISTS—HIS CONVERSION.


To give the genealogy of George Whitefield, so far as it
can be traced, will not be a tedious task. There is not a
cloud of ancestors to be acknowledged and honoured
before attention can be directed to him whose labours
and sacrifices may serve to kindle the emulation of the
most saintly, and to provoke admiration wherever they
are known.


          The great-grandfather of George Whitefield was the
Rev. Samuel Whitefield, of whom nothing more can be
said than that he was a clergyman of the Church of
England, and held successively the living of North
Ledyard in Wiltshire and that of Rockhampton in
Gloucestershire. Perhaps he was rich; for one of his
sons, Andrew, is described as ‘a private gentleman.’ A
family of fourteen children, with which the private
gentleman was blessed, must have divided his estate into
comparatively small portions; and that which fell to the
eldest, a son named Thomas, established him as a wine



merchant in Bristol. Thomas Whitefield married Miss
Elizabeth Edwards of Bristol, and afterwards removed to
Gloucester, to keep the Bell Inn, apparently because
he had failed in his first venture. Nothing more is
known of the wine merchant and innkeeper than of the
Wiltshire rector; but we can scarcely avoid the sup-
position that his failure in trade was the result of in-
aptitude, and that he was not without some of the gifts
so freely lavished on his son George—youngest of seven,
a daughter and six sons—who was born in the Bell Inn,
on the 16th of December, 1714. Unwilling to believe
that some children, like the favourites of fairies, are capri-
ciously dowered with their splendid gifts, we look for the
original of the son in the father or the mother, or in some
combination of their respective qualities; and as the wife
of the innkeeper seems to have had but little mental or
moral likeness to her famous son, we are tempted to
ascribe the higher worth to her husband. Yet the mother
of Whitefield, if without the clear wisdom and the daunt-
less piety of the mother of the Wesleys, had a tender,
faithful heart, commendable prudence, a great desire for
the welfare of her children, and much willingness to deny
herself for their sakes. George always held her in reve-
rent affection. With the fondness of a mother for her
last-born, she used to tell him that, even when he was an
infant, she always expected more comfort from him than
from any other of her children.

          One Christmas more came, and the father was still
spared to watch over his children; but, sometime about
the coming of the next, he died; and his child was left
without one remembrance of him.

Only one event of Whitefield’s early childhood is on
record. When he was about four years of age he had
the measles, and through the ignorance or neglect of
his nurse, the disease left one of his eyes—dark blue they
were, and lively—with a squint, which, however, is said

not to have marred the extreme sweetness of his counte-
nance, nor diminished the charm of his glance.


          Circumstances were not very favourable to the forma-
tion of a noble character in the boy. He says that he
soon gave pregnant proofs of an impudent temper.’ He
fell into some of the worst of juvenile sins; occasionally
he transgressed in a more marked way. His child-
hood was stained with lying, evil speaking, and petty
thefts, which he perpetrated on his mother by taking
money out of her pocket before she was up;1 this he
thought, at the time, was no theft at all. He also says
that he spent much money in plays, and in the common
entertainments of the age.’ Playing at cards and reading
romances were his ‘heart’s delight.’ Sabbath-breaking
was a common sin, and he generally behaved irreverently
at public worship, when he was present. As might be
expected, he was fond of playing wild, roguish tricks,
such as running into the Dissenting meeting-house, and
shouting the name of the worthy old minister—‘Old
Cole! old Cole! old Cole!’ Being asked, one day, by
one of Cole’s congregation, of what business he meant to
be, he replied,’ A minister; but I would take care never
to tell stories in the pulpit like the old Cole.’ A wild,
merry, unkempt lad he was; with no restraint upon him,
excepting a wise regulation of his mother, by which he
was not allowed to take any part in the business, although
he did sometimes sell odd quantities over the counter, and
wrongfully keep the money; overflowing with animal
spirits, which often led him into mischief, in the execution
of which his power of concealment so signally failed him
that he was always detected. ‘It would be endless,’ he
says, ‘to recount the sins and offences of my younger

1 Augustine goes through a catalogue of similar faults in his ‘Confessions.’
Tutor, masters, and parents were deceived with innumerable falsehoods, so
that he might get off to shows and plays; he also committed thefts from
his parents’ cellar and table, either to please a greedy appetite, of to give to
other boys.


days.’ But why he should, in later years, have classed
his ‘roguish tricks’ with graver faults, is not clear. They
may really have been worse than simple fun, or his con-
science may have become morbidly sensitive and in-
tolerant, even of play, probably the latter. But there
were other forces working in his impetuous, fiery spirit.
Good thoughts struggled with sinful ones; conscience
failed not to rebuke him for his faults, and smite him
with heavy blows. A grotesque caricature of a saint
sprung out of the contention. He would not be bad,
neither would he be thoroughly good. He compromised;
he tried to blend light and darkness; he feared God, and
loved sin. Some of the money stolen from his mother
was devoted to higher ends than buying tarts and fruit

it was given to the poor! His thefts were not confined
to raids upon his mother’s pocket and till, but extended
to property outside the Bell Inn; but then he stole
afterwards restored fourfold — and they were
books of devotion! The Bible was not unknown to him,
any more than a romance; but it was as much the book
of his curses as the book of his prayers. His quick
he was hasty-tempered to the lastsought ex-
pression for itself in the imprecatory psalms, as well as in
vulgar cursing. The burden of the 118th Psalm was
familiar to him; and once, when he had been teased by
some persons who took a constant pleasure in exaspera-
ting him, he immediately retired to his room, and, kneel-
ing down, with many tears, prayed the whole Psalm
over, finding relief to his feelings in the terrible refrain
of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth verses
‘But in the
name of the Lord will I destroy them.’ Church might
be a place for irreverence, and the service a thing to be
mocked at; yet he was always fond of being a clergyman,
and frequently imitated the minister’s reading prayers.


          All the man can be traced in the boydelight in the
emotional and exciting, a ready power of appropriating

and applying to himself and to his enemies the words of
Scripture, fondness for using his elocution, and aptness of
imitation. And a strange contrast, as well as resemblance,
is there between the man and the boy, when they are
placed side by side in St. Mary de Crypt, Gloucester. In
the church where the infant was baptized and the boy of
ten mocked, the deacon of twenty-one preached his first
sermon to a crowded audience.


          When he was ten years old his mother married a
second time, her second husband being Mr. Longden, an
ironmonger, of Gloucester. Whitefield says, that it was
‘an unhappy match as for temporals, but God overruled it
for good. It set my brethren upon thinking more than
otherwise they would have done, and made an uncommon
impression upon my own heart in particular.’


          At the age of twelve he was placed at the school of
St. Mary de Crypt, ‘the last grammar school,’ he says, ‘I
ever went to;’ from which we may suppose that he had
tried not a few schools before. The last school changed
him not a whit in his earliest characteristics. Plays still
fascinated him; and, if he did not read them in school,
when he was there
and it is very probable that he did—
he spent whole days away from school studying them,
and preparing to act them. His enthusiasm for acting
spread to his school-fellows; and the master, either be-
cause he sympathised with his scholars’ tastes, or thought
it useless to resist them, not only composed plays for the
school, but had a theatrical entertainment for the corpo-
ration on their annual visitation, young Whitefield' being,
on one occasion, dressed in girls’ clothes, to act before
them. The annual oration before these visitors was also
commonly entrusted to the boy from ‘the Bell;’ and his
good memory and fine elocution won him much notice.
A lively school must St. Mary de Crypt have been while
this vivacious scholar sat on its benches—the master
writing plays, the boys learning them, and the worthy
city aldermen seeing them acted.


Whitefield has given an opinion upon his education:
he says, ‘I cannot but observe, with much concern of
mind, how this training up of youth has a natural ten-
dency to debauch the mind, to raise ill passions, and to
stuff the memory with things as contrary to the gospel of
Jesus Christ as light to darkness, heaven to hell. How-
ever, though the first thing I had to repent of was my
education in general, yet I must always acknowledge that
my particular thanks are due to my master for the great
pains he took with me and his other scholars in teaching
us to write and speak correctly.’


          The future saint and preacher was still indicated amid
all this mirth. Part of the money received for his good
acting and reciting was spent upon ‘Ken’s Manual for
Winchester Scholars,’ a book which had affected him
much when his brother used to read it in his mother’s
troubles, and which, for some time after he bought it, was
of great use to his soul.’


          Before he was fifteen he longed to be free even from
the mild discipline of his last grammar school; and by
pressing his mother with the sage argument that, since she
could not send him to the university, and as more learning
might spoil him for a tradesman, it would be best for him
to halt at his present attainments, he got his own way on
all points but one—he must go to school every day for a
writing lesson. Adverse circumstances soon compelled
the discontinuance of the solitary lesson, and the lad of
fifteen had to take—on his part, apparently with some
little regret, but with commendable industry—to the dress
and work of a common drawer in his mother’s inn. She
who had hitherto been so jealous over her son’s asso-
ciations must have been hard pressed with poverty before
consenting to such a step. Nor was the boy unaffected
by the family misfortunes. His honour prompted him to
be of use, and to shun the greater contempt of being a
burden, by enduring the lesser shame of wearing a blue


apron and washing mops and cleaning rooms. His reli-
gious tendencies were strengthened by frequent reading
of the Bible at the close of his day’s work; indeed, he
would sit up to read it. Sometimes the care of the whole
house came upon him; but still he found time to compose
two or three sermons, one of which he dedicated to his
elder brother. The first lessons of experience were being
wrought into the heart of a quick learner, whose way-
wardness was receiving its first stern rebuke. The work
of the inn made him long for school again, but his
sense of filial duty never suffered him to be idle, even in
a calling which he disliked. The sight of the boys going
to school often cut him to the heart; and to a companion,
who frequently came entreating him to go to Oxford, his
general answer was, ‘I wish I could.’


          A year later his mother was obliged to leave the inn;
then a married brother, ‘who had been bred up to the
business,’ took it; and to him George became an assistant.
The brothers agreed well enough; not so the brother-in-
law and sister-in-law; for three weeks together George
would not speak a word to her. He was wretched, and
much to blame; and at length, thinking that his absence
would make all things easy, and being advised so by his
mother and brother, he went to Bristol, to see one of his
brothers. This, he thinks, was God’s way of ‘forcing him
out of the public business, and calling him from drawing
wine for drunkards, to draw water out of the wells of
salvation for the refreshment of His spiritual Israel.’


          At Bristol he experienced the first of those rapturous
feelings with which, a few years later, his soul became
absolutely penetrated and possessed, then refined and
gloriously illuminated, and in which it was finally sa-
crificed to God his Saviour. From the first it was no
weakness of his to feel with half his heart: ‘with all thy
soul and mind and strength’ was to him an easy condition
of religious feeling and activity. He now had much


‘sensible devotion,’ and was filled with ‘ unspeakable
raptures,’ sometimes ‘ carried out beyond himself.’ He
longed after the sacrament; he pondered the ‘Imitation of
Christ,’ and delighted in it; he was all impatience to hear
the church bell calling him to worship; his former employ-
ment dissatisfied him, and he often wrote to his mother,
telling her that he never would return to it. Yet, with all
his fervour, his heart knew not ‘the peace of God which
passeth all understanding;’ something secretly whispered,
‘this will not last;’ and it is not from this time that he
dates his conversion. He admits that God was in the
tumult of devotion, but not as he afterwards knew Him
—the God of peace and rest and love.


          Two short months sufficed to end the spiritual fever.
Probably it would have left him, had he continued at
Bristol, but its decline he ascribes to his return home.
Once among his old associations, his delight in church-
going and in prayer ceased; the only remnant of good he
retained was his resolution not to live in the inn; and no
doubt his firmness on that point was mainly due to his
antipathy to his sister-in-law, and to his love for his
mother, who, with true motherly affection, welcomed him
to the best she could give him—her own fare and a bed
upon the floor. His old love for play-reading revived
again; his vanity made him more careful to ‘adorn his
body than deck and beautify his soul,’ his former school-
fellows, whom he had done his share in misleading, now
did theirs in misleading him.


          ‘But God,’ he says, speaking in harmony with those
Calvinistic views which he afterwards adopted, ‘whose
gifts and callings are without repentance, would let no-
thing pluck me out of His hands, though I was continually
doing despite to the Spirit of grace. He saw me with pity
and compassion, when lying in my blood. He passed by
me; He said unto me, “Live,” and even gave me some
foresight of His providing for me. One morning, as I was


reading a play to my sister, said I, “Sister, God intends
something for me which we know not of. As I have
been diligent in business, I believe many would gladly
have me for an apprentice; but every way seems to be
barred up, so that I think God will provide for me some
way or other that we cannot apprehend.” ’


          The deterioration of character which must have re-
sulted from his being without employment, and without
any purposes for the future, was happily averted by an
accidental visit paid to his mother by one of his former
school-fellows, now a servitor at Pembroke College, Ox-
ford. When it was incidentally mentioned in the conver-
sation, that the visitor had paid his last quarter’s expenses,
and received a penny, Mrs. Whitefield eagerly caught at
the news, and cried out, ‘This will do for my son;’ and
turning to George she said, ‘Will you go to Oxford,
George?’ He replied, ‘With all my heart.’ Application
was at once made for the help of the kind friends who
had aided their visitor; and mother and son were soon
rejoiced to know that interest would be used to procure
George a servitor’s place in Pembroke College.


          His learning, such as it was, had not been kept bright
during his service in the inn, his visit to Bristol, and his
idle time under his mother’s roof; and so the genial
schoolmaster had to be applied to again, to take back his
former pupil. He gladly consented; and, this time, the
pupil, animated by the hope of gaining an honourable
object, worked diligently and successfully. At first his
morality and religion were not improved equally with his
learning. A knot of debauched and atheistical youths,
their atheism probably founded on their immorality,
which did not like to retain the knowledge of God, suc-
ceeded in inveigling him. His thoughts about religion
grew more and more like theirs; he reasoned that if God
had given him passions, it must be to gratify them. He
affected to look rakish; and when he went to public ser-

vice, it was only to make sport and walk about. Twice
or thrice he got drunk.


          Then a reforming impulse came upon him; and upon
information given by him to his master of the principles
and practices of his companions, their proceedings were
stopped. Efforts after a better life, relapses into sin, me-
ditations upon serious books,[1] dutiful service done for his
mother, and, finally, a firm resolution to prepare for
taking the sacrament on his seventeenth birthday, marked
his moral history at school for the first twelvemonths.


          Strange fancies now began to flit through his mind.
Once he dreamt that he was to see God on Mount Sinai,
and was afraid to meet Him—a circumstance which im-
pressed him deeply; and when he told it to a ‘gentle-
woman,’ she said, ‘George, this is a call from God.’ He
grew more serious, and his looks—such, he says, was his
‘hypocrisy ’—were more grave than the feelings behind
them. The gentlewoman’s words also helped to increase
his impressionableness; and it is not surprising to learn
that ‘one night, as he was going on an errand for his
mother, an unaccountable but very strong impression was
made upon his heart, that he should preach quickly.’ It


is as little surprising that his mother, upon hearing from
him what had
come into his mind, should have turned
short upon
him, crying out—‘ What does the boy mean?
Prithee, hold thy

resumed, though in a much more sober way, the
religious practices of
his Bristol life. A rebuke adminis-
tered to him by one of his brothers, who had begun to
regard his alternations from saint to sinner and sinner to
saint as painfully regular, did him much good, by check-
ing his spiritual pride and
by increasing his self-distrust
and watchfulness. His
brother told him plainlythe
Whitefields were an outspoken family—that he feared
the new zeal would not last
long, not through the temp-
tations of Oxford. Perhaps his prophecy might have been
fulfilled had he not spoken it.


          Whitefield went to Oxford in 1732 when he was
nearly eighteen years old. Some of his friends used their
influence with the master of Pembroke College
; another
lent him ten pounds upon a bond, to defray the
expense of entering, while the master admitted him as a
servitor immediately. Once within
the college walls he
was not the lad
to play with his chance of success. His
humble station had no thorns for his pride. To be a ser-
vitor was no new thing
; perhaps he felt himself advanced
having his fellow-students to wait upon, instead of
and drunkards. Pembroke College was far before
the Bell Inn, both for reputation and society; and then,
was there not before the eye of the young
student the
prospect of an honourable and useful station in life?
Might he not, at the least, become an ordinary clergyman
in his church? Might he not pass beyond that, and
attain to the dignity of a very reverend, or perhaps of a
right reverend? There might be present indignity in his
as there certainly was nothing ennobling in it;
yet he
would not impatiently and with silly haughtiness
throw away
future honour by discarding humble work.


He may have been rather too destitute of that high-
spiritedness which made Johnson, not many weeks before
Whitefield’s coming to Pembroke,1 throw away a pair of
shoes which gentle kindness had placed at his door; in-
deed, an equal division of them respective qualities of
pride and humbleness between the two students might
have been an advantage to both. A little more of John-
son’s spiritedness might have saved Whitefield from the
reproach of sycophancy, while not injuring his humility
and gratefulness of heart; and a little more of White-
field’s diligence and ready attention to the wants of the
gentlemen might have rescued Johnson from years of
hardship and of ignominious drudgery, while not sapping
his independence. When Whitefield rejoices in his humble
lot, because it offers many advantages above the position
in which he was born, and wins for himself general esteem
by his quickness and readiness to serve, he is greater than
the suspicious Johnson, who can see nothing but an insult
in as delicate a kindness as ever was offered to a poor
scholar; but when Johnson rebukes the cold neglect, and
afterwards the officious help of Chesterfield, he is nobler
than Whitefield, who uses obsequious language to the
lords and ladies of his congregation, not indeed in preach-
ing to them, but in his private correspondence with them.


          The young servitor lightened the burden of friends
who stood as his money-securities, toiled at his classics,
adhered to his late religious practices at the grammar
school, and thus laid a good foundation for a manly fife.
Law’s ‘Serious Call to a Devout Life,’ which had already
‘overmatched’ Johnson, and made him ‘think in earnest
of religion,’ and his treatise on ‘Christian Perfection,’
were the means of stirring still more profoundly the
already excited mind of Whitefield. Standing aloof from
the general body of students, resisting the solicitations of
many who lay in the same room with him, and who


1 I am following Boswell’s dates.


would have drawn him into excess of riot,’ and prac-
tising daily devotions with the regularity of a monk, what
wonder that he was soon thrown amongst the ‘Metho-
dists,’ who were beginning their new life, and whom he
had always defended, even before he came to Oxford, or
knew them.  If there was spiritual life in the university,
how could one who had so strangely, though ofttimes so
inconsistently, followed prayer, meditation, sermon-writ-
ing, almsgiving, and public worship, fail to feel its touch,
and answer to its call!  It was inevitable that the servitor,
who had come to be looked upon as a ‘singular odd
fellow,’ notwithstanding all his merits, should turn
Methodist; and accordingly he joined the band of devout
young men sometime between his nineteenth and twen-
tieth year, after his ‘soul had longed for above a twelve-
month to be acquainted with them.’


          The first Methodists were John and Charles Wesley,
Mr. Morgan, commoner of Christ Church, and Mr. Kirk-
ham, of Merton College; but the nickname was fastened
on the little company while John was in Lincolnshire
assisting his father, the rector of Epworth. When he
returned to Oxford, in 1730, he took his brother Charles’s
place at the head of the band, and became for ever after
the chief figure of Methodism. His age—he was now
twenty-seven years old, Charles twenty-two, and White-
field sixteen
his ability, his position, and his piety, fitted
him to become the guide and stay of his friends; and
soon were the effects of his presence seen in an increased
attendance at the students’ devotional meetings, and in
the manner in which the meetings were conducted. Uni-
versity wits called him ‘The Father of the Holy Club.’
When Whitefield joined the Methodists, which was about
the end of 1734, or early in 1735, they were fifteen in
number, and included Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen’s
College; Mr. T. Broughton, of Exeter; and Mr. James
Hervey, of Lincoln College; and it was in this wise he


joined them. Wesley and his associates were marked
men. Their austerities, their devoutness, and their chari-
table labours among the poor, attracted general attention;
and on their way to St. Mary’s, every week, to receive the
sacrament, they had to pass through a crowd of ridiculing
students, congregated to insult them. The sight of this
shameful insolence did not operate upon one beholder
at least as a hindrance to godly living; on the contrary,
it awakened his sympathy, nerved his courage, and pre-
pared him to take up his cross. Whitefield often saw the
persecution endured by the few, and never without wish-
ing to follow their brave example. An opportunity of
becoming acquainted with them soon offered itself. A
poor woman, in one of the workhouses, made an unsuc-
cessful attempt to commit suicide; and Whitefield, aware
of Charles Wesley’s readiness for every good work, sent
a message to him by an apple woman of Pembroke, ask-
ing him to visit her. The messenger was, for some
unaccountable reason, charged not to tell Wesley who
had sent her; that charge she broke; and Wesley, who
had often met Whitefield walking by himself, pondering
the ‘deep things of God,’ and was aware of his pious
habits, sent him an invitation to come and breakfast with
him the next morning. Whitefield gladly went; and that
morning the two students formed a life-long, honourable
friendship. Forty years afterwards Charles wrote of their
meeting with much tenderness and warmth:—


          ‘Can I the memorable day forget,

When first we by divine appointment met?

Where undisturbed the thoughtful student roves,

In search of truth, through academic groves;

A modest, pensive youth, who mused alone,

Industrious the frequented path to shun,

An Israelite, without disguise or art,

I saw, I loved, and clasped him to my heart,

A stranger as my bosom-friend caressed,

And unawares received an angel-guest.’


Charles Wesley put into the hands of his guest, Professor
Franck’s treatise against the ‘Fear of Man’ and the
‘Country Parson’s Advice to his Parishioners.’ White-
field then took his departure.


          The most interesting part of the spiritual life of White-
field begins at this point, up to which there has been an
uncertain, varying war carried on against sin, coupled
with many defeated attempts to attain to a severe form
of external piety. After the period just to be opened to
our view, he never becomes entangled in doubts con-
cerning the divine method of saving sinners, and never
hesitates between rival plans of practical living. He tried
all the three great plans of being a Christian and of
serving God which have gained favour with large sections
of mankind; and finding satisfaction in the one which he
ultimately adopted, he felt no temptation ever afterwards
to leave it. Already, as we have seen, he has had large
experience of the effects upon conscience and heart of
the method which theologians call, ‘salvation by works;’
and yet he is neither at peace with God, nor established
in a godly life. He is more satisfied that he is on the
right track, and his resolutions to be outwardly holy have
stood a good trial; but he is still asking and seeking.


          While in this state of mind, Charles Wesley both
helped and hindered him—helped him with his books,
and hindered him by his example, which was that of an
honest, anxious mind, ignorant of the salvation which
comes by faith in the Son of God. The great Methodist,
his ‘never-to-be-forgotten friend,’ as Whitefield affection-
ately calls him, brought him within sight of the ‘fulness
of the blessing of the gospel of Christ,’ and then led him
down a by-path, which brought him to the low levels of
Quietism, where he nearly perished. Charles Wesley did
not conduct him thus far, and never intended to set
him in that direction; it was ‘the blind leading the
blind.’ The pupil, as we shall presently see, was the first


to become a safe teacher; he knew ‘the liberty of the sons
of God,’ while the Wesleys were struggling in chains he
had broken.


          Shortly after the memorable breakfast, Charles lent
him a book, entitled ‘The Life of God in the Soul of
Man;’ and no small wonder did it create within him. It
was a new doctrine to be told, ‘that some falsely placed
religion in going to church, doing hurt to no one, being
constant in the duties of the closet, and now and then
reaching out their hands to give alms to their poor
neighbours.’ But if the book’s negative teaching alarmed
him, by shaking to the ground the temple he was so
diligently building, its positive teaching filled him with
unspeakable joy. When he read that ‘true religion is
an union of the soul with God, or Christ formed within
us, a ray of divine light instantaneously darted in upon
his soul, and from that moment, but not till then, did he
know that he must be a new creature.’


          Then, with characteristic ardour, he wrote to his rela-
tions about this new birth (afterwards to be the main
doctrine of his preaching to multitudes of people), think-
ing that the news of it would be as welcome to them as
it had been to himself; but they charitably supposed him
to be insane. Their letters determined him to forego an
intended visit to his native town, lest going among them
they might impede the progress of his soul in grace.
Charles Wesley now introduced him ‘by degrees to the
rest of the Methodists;’ and of course the introduction
led him to adopt the whole of their plan of living. To
live by rule was the fundamental principle of their theo-.
logy; as yet they knew nothing of the mighty power of
joy and peace which come through believing upon the
name of Jesus. To live according to ‘the law of the
spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ was an unthought-of privi-
lege in their fixed and lifeless code. Thus Whitefield
was led astray from the scriptural truth which had poured


light into his understanding, and gladness into his heart,
and once more tried, though this time more inflexibly
and more thoroughly, his old scheme of salvation by
works. It seemed as if, like Luther, he must know all
that he could do, and all that he could not do, before he
could ‘count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus.’ The redemption of time
became, according to the new teachers, a primary virtue,
and he hoarded his moments as if they were years.
Whether he ate, or drank, or whatever he did, he endea-
voured to do all to the glory of God. The sacrament
was received every Sunday at Christ Church. Lasting
was practised on Wednesday and Friday. Sick persons
and prisoners were visited, and poor people were read
to. An hour every day was spent in acts of charity.


          His studies were soon affected by his morbid state of
mind, for such a system as he was living under allowed
its faithful disciple no room for change or diversion.
Every hour brought round a weary step of the moral
treadmill which must be taken, or conscience would be
bruised and wounded; and Whitefield had suffered
enough from conscience to feel a quivering fear of its
pains. No books would now please his disordered taste
but such as ‘entered into the heart of religion, and led him
directly into an experimental knowledge of Jesus Christ
and Him crucified.’ How he came to write these words,
which are quoted from his journal, it would be hard to
say. When he wrote them, he must have known that it
was the lack of the knowledge of Jesus which had made
him a slave.


          Once fully and openly Connected with the ‘Holy Club,’
he had soon to share in its troubles. ‘Polite students’
shot barbed words at him, mean ones withdrew their pay
from him, and brutal ones threw dirt at him. Friends
became shy. The master of the college rebuked him,
and threatened to expel him. Daily contempt was poured


upon him. His tutor alone forbore to torment him. At
first he did not accept his reproach calmly; it shook his
feeble strength. When he went to St. Mary’s, for the
first time, to receive the sacrament publicly on a week-
day—sure sign to all the University that he had ‘com-
menced Methodist’ — ‘Mr. Charles Wesley,’ he says,
I must always mention with the greatest de-
ference and respect, walked with me from the church
even to the college. I confess to my shame
I would
gladly have excused him; and the next day, going to his
room, one of our fellows passing by, I was ashamed to
be seen to knock at his door.’ The displeasure of the
master of his college, and the master’s threat to expel
him if ever he visited the poor again, surprised him, as
well it might. A shameful state of feeling must have
prevailed when a master could think of inflicting final
disgrace upon a student for the sin, not of attending
Methodist meetings, but of visiting the poor. ‘Over-
awed,’ he says, ‘by the master’s authority, I spoke un-
advisedly with my lips, and said, if it displeased him, I
would not. My conscience soon pricked me for this sin-
ful compliance.
I immediately repented, and visited the
poor the first opportunity, and told my companions, if
ever I was called to a stake for Christ’s sake,
I would
serve my tongue as Archbishop Cranmer served his hand,
viz. make that burn first.’ His fear of man gradually
wore off; and he ‘confessed the Methodists more and
more publicly every day,’ walking openly with them, and
choosing rather to bear contempt with them than ‘to enjoy
the applause of almost-Christians for a season.’


          The advantage of his trials was, that they inured him
to contempt, of which he was destined to get a full share,
and lessened his self-love. His inward sufferings were
also of an uncommon kind, Satan seeming to desire to sift
him like wheat; and the reason for this, Whitefield thinks,
was to prevent his future blessings from proving his ruin.


All along he had an earnest desire, a Hungering and
thirsting after the Humility of Jesus Christ. Imagining
that it would be instantaneously infused into His soul,
He prayed night and day to receive it. ‘But as Gideon,’
He says, ‘taught the men of Succoth with thorns, so God
—if I am yet in any measure blessed with poverty of
spirit—taught it me by the exercise of true, strong temp-
tations.’ The strong temptations came in reality from
His mistaken, though eagerly-accepted, views of religion,
his incessant self-inspection, His moral police regulations,
His abstinence from all change in reading, and His daily
persecutions, the combined influence of which brought
him into a terrible condition. A horrible fearfulness and
dread overwhelmed his soul. He felt ‘an unusual weight
and impression, attended with inward darkness,’ lie upon
his breast; and the load increased until he was convinced
that Satan had real possession of him, and that his body,
like Job’s, was given over to the power of the evil one.
All power of meditating, or even thinking, was taken from
him. But let him tell his own tale:
—‘My memory quite
failed me. My whole soul was barren and dry, and I
could fancy myself to be like nothing so much as a man
locked up in iron armour. Whenever I kneeled down,
I felt great heavings in my body, and have often prayed
under the weight of them till the sweat came through
me. At this time Satan used to terrify me much, and
threatened to punish me, if I discovered his wiles. It
being my duty, as servitor, in my turn to knock at the
gentlemen’s rooms by ten at night, to see who were in
their rooms, I thought the devil would appear to me every
stair I went up. And he so troubled me when I lay down
to rest, that, for some weeks, I scarce slept above three
hours at a time.


          ‘God only knows how many nights I have lain upon
my bed groaning under the weight I
felt, and bidding
Satan depart from me in the name of Jesus. Whole days


and weeks have I spent in lying prostrate on the ground,
and begging freedom from those proud, hellish thoughts
that used to crowd in upon and distract my soul. But
God made Satan drive out Satan. For these thoughts
and suggestions created such a self-abhorrence within me,
that I never ceased wrestling with God till He blessed me
with a victory over them. Self-love, self-will, pride, and
envy buffeted me in their turns, that I was resolved
either to die or conquer. I wanted to see sin as it was,
but feared, at the same time, lest the sight of it should
terrify me to death.


          ‘Having nobody to show me a better way, I thought
to get peace and purity by outward austerities. Accord-
ingly, by degrees, I began to leave off eating fruits, and
such like, and gave the money I usually spent in that
way to the poor. Afterwards I always chose the worst
sort of food, though my place furnished me with variety.
I fasted twice a week. My apparel was mean. I thought
it unbecoming a penitent to have his hair powdered. I
wore woollen gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes,
and therefore looked upon myself as very humble.’


          He was exhausting what he calls ‘the legal system’—-
salvation by works. He felt pride creeping in, in spite
of him, behind every thought, word, and action; and he
was too sincere not to admit that all his labours must
prove fruitless while that remained unbroken. Here
Quietism offered him its aid. Whitefield a Quietist!
As easily change a comet into a fixed star. The power
was not in him to dream sweet dreams of heaven, nor to
swoon away in the ecstasy of a mediaeval saint, his ‘soul
and spirit divided asunder as by the sword of the Spirit
of God. He was quite capable of a fiery rapture; indeed
his life, when he got fairly engaged in his mighty labours,
was nothing else; but his feelings depended much upon
active effort. His practical mind could not tolerate the
spiritual subtleties of the mystical mind, and in the school


of Richard of St. Victor he would not have learned the
alphabet of the spirit-lore.  It would have plunged him
into a horrible pit had he been assured, that within his
own soul he might find ‘a threefold heaven—the imagi-
national, the rational, and the intellectual.’ Fenelon’s
doctrine of disinterested love, though substantially the
same as that of a theologian whom he learned profoundly
to revere, Jonathan Edwards, would have driven him dis-
tracted. The definitions, stages, and depths of Quietism
were not what attracted him to his new system; these
were an esoteric doctrine to him. All that he wanted
was some ready and satisfactory method of relieving his
conscience of an intolerable burden, and of attaining to a
truly religious life; and reading one day in Castaniza’s
‘Spiritual Combat,’ ‘that he that is employed in morti-
fying his will is as well employed as though he were con-
verting Indians,’ he set himself rudely to the task of
mortifying his will. He began as an Englishman, with a
rough unsparing hand and an honest heart. He sighed
for no canonisation; he coveted no marvellous revelations.
To mortify his will was all that he had to do; and how
else could it be done but by mortification?  So he shut
himself up in his study for five or six weeks (only attend-
ing to necessary college business), and fought his cor-
ruptions by almost incessant prayer. Extravagance was
added to extravagance. The narrative of our Lord’s
temptation among wild beasts made him think that he
ought to expose himself to the cold; and at night, after
supper, he went into Christ Church Walk, knelt under a
tree, and continued in silent prayer until the great bell
rang and called him to his college. Mortification next
required the discontinuance of a diary which he kept, and
also abstinence from the use of forms and even of audible
speech in prayer, and cessation from works of mercy.
Its inexorable logic next required that he should forsake
all his friends; for is it not written that we are ‘to leave

all,’ if we would follow Christ and accordingly, instead of
meeting with his beloved brethren on one of their weekly
fast days, Wednesday, he went into the fields for silent
prayer. The evening meeting also was neglected; and
on Thursday morning he did not make his usual appear-
ance at Charles Wesley’s breakfast-table. This made

Charles call upon him to see what was the matter, and
finding that it was morbid anxiety, he counselled White-
field to seek spiritual direction from his brother John,
whose skill he thoroughly trusted.


          The spell of Quietism was broken; it was not potent
enough to hold such a spirit as Whitefield’s long in
bondage; and silence was impossible under the interroga-
tions of a loving, anxious friend. With wonderful humi-
lity Whitefield sought the aid of John Wesley, who told
him that he must resume all his external religious exer-
cises, but not depend upon them,—advice which might
have driven him mad, not a ray of comfort in it, not a
drop of the love of God. And still the bewildered in-
quirer, burdened with his great sorrow, which no man
could remove, attended diligently upon his teacher; and
the teacher, as was natural to him, confidently undertook
to guide him. As they stand here before our eye, one
side of each character, unconsciously displayed by that
luminous sincerity which distinguished equally both these
remarkable men, comes clearly and boldly into relief.
The elder, while abounding in some of the divinest gifts
which can adorn humanity—readiness to forgive, patience,
is confident, assuming, and gratified in being
above his fellows; the younger, while restless with im-
petuosity, impatient, quick to engage in conflict if not first
to provoke it, is teachable, reverent, and generous to
rivals. The thought of rivalry between them is yet un-
born; ‘the Father of the Holy Club’ is instructing its
youngest member.


                    Wesley meant to do Whitefield good service, and par-


tially succeeded when he urged him to return to ‘exter-
nals,’ as Methodists called acts of devotion and charity.
Only a few days after returning to his duty among the
poor, Whitefield added to the one convert, James
Hervey, whom he had won, two more, while his own
soul was tormented and afflicted. The story of their con-
version well illustrates the reputation of the Methodists
in Oxford at this time. ‘As I was walking along,’
Whitefield says, ‘I met with a poor woman, whose hus-
band was then in Bocardo, or Oxford town gaol, which I
constantly visited. Seeing her much discomposed, I in-
quired the cause. She told me, not being able to bear the
crying of her children, ready to perish with hunger, and
having nothing to relieve them, she had been to drown
herself, but was mercifully prevented, and said she was
coming to my room to inform me of it. I gave her some
immediate relief, and desired her to meet me at the prison
with her husband in the afternoon. She came, and there
God visited them both by His free grace; she was power-
fully quickened from above; and, when I had done read-
ing, he came to me like the trembling jailor, and, grasp-
ing my hand, cried out, “I am upon the brink of hell!”
From this time forward both of them grew in grace.
God, by His providence, soon delivered him from his
confinement. Though notorious offenders against God
and one another before, yet now they became helpsmeet
for each other in the great work of their salvation. They
are both now living, and I trust will be my joy and crown
of rejoicing in the great day of our Lord Jesus.’


          Lent soon came, and its fastings and hardships brought
Whitefield’s spiritual conflicts to their fiercest vigour, and
then to their joyful cessation. The externals of the
Methodist rule for this season were duly observed.  No

meat was eaten by the brethren except on the Saturday
and the Sunday; but Whitefield surpassed them, and often
abstained on the Saturday; and on other days, Sunday


alone excepted, he lived on sage tea without sugar, and
coarse bread. In the cold mornings, the biting east wind
blowing, he walked out, until part of one of his hands
became quite black. When Passion Week came he could
scarce creep upstairs for weakness; and it then seemed
to be time to send for his tutor, a kind, considerate man,
who immediately took the common-sense plan of calling
in a doctor.


                ‘Salvation by works’ had nearly killed him; Quietism
had nearly driven him mad. Was there not another way,
which, combining the excellences of the two plans, might
bring him out of darkness into God’s marvellous light?
Might he not render his soul into the hands of God as
into ‘the hands of a faithful Creator,’ and still devote
himself with diligence to ‘every good word and work;’
thus getting the repose combined with the activity which
his nature in a special degree needed? Both sides of the
spiritual life of man are fully recognised in Holy Scrip-
ture. Expressions of supreme delight in the knowledge
and fellowship of the Almighty crowd the pages both of
the Old and New Testament; and not less numerous are
the passages which declare the joy and worth of humble
toil for each other and for the glory of God. Our great
example, Christ Jesus, had His own hidden, sweet delights
in communing wiith His father, and His feet were swift
to do ‘His father’s business.’ Might not the disciple be
as his Lord? It is not to be objected here, that the
disciple had not received the very first gift of God to man,
at least the first gift which affords man sensible relief, and
a vivid conception of the divine mercy, pardon; and
that it is idle to speak of the after stages of grace before
the first step in it has been taken. The effect of the book,
‘The Life of God in the Soul of Man,’ must be remem-
bered, and then it will be seen that all Whitefield’s
misery arose from forgetting, through the deference which
he paid to the judgment of the Wesleys, the truth declared


in that book. ‘The Life of God ’ was undoubtedly in
his soul, and would have expanded rapidly, imparting to
him daily joy had he not been told that it must grow in
certain stunted forms, or it
was not of God at all; and the
attempt to cripple
it produced an inevitable agony. No
life, least of all the divine life of the soul, will quietly
suffer its laws to be violated. The poor servitor was
taught that truth in a way never to be forgotten. Ever
afterwards he was careful to
go whither the Spirit might
lead him; and hence his life was free from the deformities
of a forced asceticism and the vagaries of a wild spiritual-
ism. N
ot that he did not sternly, sometimes almost
cruelly, deny his body rest and comfort, and urge it on
to work
; not that he was without ‘experiences’ of
spiritual things so rapturous, so excited, so absorbing,
that, compared with them, the feelings and devotional
exercises of most saints appear tame and flat; but there
was health, there was naturalness in it all. His abound-
ing labours, his ‘weariness and painfulness,’ were always
for the salvation of others, never for his own; his agonies
of soul were like those which the Apostle declared that
he felt for his brethren
a ‘travailing in birth until Christ
should be formed in their hearts.’


          Left alone in his sick-room he felt again the blessed-
ness of which he had tasted one memorable draught.
What book he had been reading, or what devotional
exercises he had been engaged in when he felt himself
free again, does not appear.
He simply says, ‘About
the end of the seventh week, after having undergone
innumerable bufferings of Satan, and many months’ in-
expressible trials
by night and day under the spirit of
God was pleased at length to remove the
heavy load, to enable me to lay hold on His dear Son by
a living faith, and by giving me the Spirit of adoption,
to seal me, as
I humbly hope, even to the day of ever-
lasting redemption.’
Then catching fire at the remem-


brance of what he had felt, he exclaims in his journal:—


          ‘But oh! with what joy, joy unspeakable, even joy that
was full of, and big with, glory, was my soul filled, when
the weight of sin went off; and an abiding sense of the
pardoning love of God, and a full assurance of faith broke
in upon my disconsolate soul! Surely it was the day of
my espousals, a day to be had in everlasting remem-
brance. At first my joys were like a spring-tide, and, as
it were, overflowed the banks. Go where I would, I
could not avoid singing of psalms almost aloud; after-
wards it became more settled, and, blessed be God! saving
a few casual intervals, has abode and increased in my
soul ever since.’


          Oxford had by this time become a ‘sweet retirement.’
There he had become a new man; there the scales had
fallen from his eyes, and he had beheld the glories of the
Son of God; there he had found rest to his soul; there he
had united himself to one of the most remarkable bands
of young men our country has seen; and it was with
much reluctance that, on a partial recovery, he yielded to
the advice of his physician to go to Gloucester till he
should be quite restored. Oxford was associated with
his better life; Gloucester with his baser life. However,
he determined ‘either to make or find a friend,’ a person
of like mind with himself; and, as soon as he reached
home, he resolved, after importunate prayer, to go and
see an acquaintance, evidently a woman of literary tastes
(to whom he had formerly read ‘Plays, Spectators,
Pope’s Homer, and such like books’), with the intention
of winning her for Christ . ‘She received the Word gladly,

and soon became a fool for Christ’s sake,’ is his record
in his journal. One friend was not enough. Others, young
persons, were brought under the power of this new
teaching; and the Methodist Oxonian soon repeated the
Oxford experiment, and gathered his converts into a
society. All had the honour of being despised. Similar


success was not attained at Bristol, to which he went for
three weeks; his way was hindered by prejudices against
himself, and only one young woman became ‘obedient
the faith.’


          At Gloucester friends were lost and won. Some who
were expected to give him pecuniary help—he was still
a servitor—turned their backs on him, and disappointed
him; but others, whom he had accounted enemies, though
he had never spoken to them, became generous friends.
It was the time of his learning first lessons of trust in that
Almighty Friend upon whose bountiful and loving care
he cast himself throughout the whole of a poverty-stricken
life; and to whom he committed many orphan children,
the foundlings of his own loving heart.


          The good Oxford physician had hoped, by getting his
patient away from the University, to divert him from
a too intense application to religion. Vain hope! The
patient simply pursued, in the spirit of joyous liberty,
duties and engagements which had previously been an
anxious burden. He cast aside all other books, and, on
his bended knees, read and prayed over the Holy Scrip-
tures. ‘Light, life, and power’ came upon him, stimula-
ting him still to search; every search brought treasure;
all fresh treasure caused fresh searching. There never
was a mind more capable of deriving unfailing pleasure
from one pursuit, nor more independent of the changes
which most of us must have, if we are to keep out of the
grave and out of the asylum. From the first effort he
put forth to the last (and he laboured without respite for
more than thirty years), he never flagged in his ardent
attachment to the same truth, expressed in the
words, looked at from the same standpoint. His latest
letters contain the self-same phrases as his earliest; and
they are given with as much feeling as if they were quite
new. This perpetual, never withering freshness will often
strike us as we follow him to the end.


          Besides laborious and prayerful study of the Bible, work
was undertaken for poor people; leave was also obtained
to visit the prisoners in the county-gaol, and they were
seen every day. He was also permitted to give a public
testimony of his repentance as to seeing and acting plays.
Hearing that the strollers were coming to town, and
knowing what an offender he had been, he prayed that
he might be put ‘in a way to manifest his abhorrence of
his former sin and folly.’ He was stirred up to make
extracts from Law’s treatise, entitled ‘The Absolute Un-
lawfulness of the Stage Entertainment.’ ‘God,’ he says,

‘gave me favour in the printer’s sight; and at my request
he put a little of it in the news for six weeks succes-
sively; and God was pleased to give it His blessing.’


          At the end of nine months he returned to Oxford, to
the joy and comfort of his friends.

                               CHAPTER II.




It was time for the irregular soldier to become a captain
of the Lord’s host;—time, if a good understanding of the
word of God, an intense delight in its spirit, and a fer-
vent desire to preach it, together with abundant scope for
the exercise of his talents and the concurrent favourable
judgment of good men, could mark any day of a man’s
life as the time for him to go to the front. The homes
of the poor and the gaols of Oxford and Gloucester had
been, along with the halls of Oxford, the finest training
schools for the coming leader. What progress he had
made in learning, I cannot say; for all other considera-
tions were lost in his supreme pleasure in religion. All
learning was nothing in comparison of the knowledge of
God and of His Son Jesus Christ, and in that knowledge
he was well instructed; nor was he ignorant of his own
heart, of its weakness and sinfulness. What natural
fitness he had for speaking none could fail to perceive,
when once they heard his rich, sweet voice, and
saw the
artless grace of all his movements. He had not waited
for a bishop’s ordination and license to preach the gospel
to the poor, any more than Saul of Tarsus waited for
apostolical recognition before preaching that ‘Jesus is
the Son of God; ’ but a license was ready so soon as
he found ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus


          Whitefield was not in a hurry to be publicly ordained.


He was well pleased to toil among the lowest; and
only at the suggestion of friends did the question of
his receiving orders come into his mind. It imme-
diately recalled to him the solemn words of St. Paul to
Timothy:  ‘Not a novice, lest, being puffed up with
pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.’ A
question which he must answer on ordination-day,’ ‘Do
you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy
Ghost to take upon you this office and administration?’
filled him with trembling. With strong crying and tears
he often said, ‘Lord, I am a youth of uncircumcised lips;
Lord, send me not into the vineyard yet.’ He even went
so far as to ask the prayers of his Oxford friends, that
God would confound the designs of his Gloucester friends
to have him at once in orders; but they, as might have
been expected, replied, ‘Pray we the Lord of the harvest
to send thee and many more labourers into His harvest.’
Timidity still held its ground; he continued to pray
against becoming a keeper of souls so soon.


          As he had longed to be with the Methodists when he
saw them insulted, but was staggered when the first ex-
perience of their daily shame came to his lot, so he was
desiring the office of a bishop ’ while fearing to enter upon
it. His sensitive nature was quick to feel the presence of
difficulties, and frank to acknowledge them; and hence
his course was fashioned, not by blindness to objections
and insensibility to criticism, but by the commanding in-
fluence of ‘the things of God.’ Wesley said of him, that,

‘in whatever concerned himself, he was pliant and flexible;
in this case he was easy to be entreated, easy to be either
convinced or persuaded; but he was immovable in the
things of God, or wherever his conscience was con-
cerned. None could persuade, any more than affright,
him to vary in the least point from that integrity which
was inseparable from his whole character, and regulated
all his words and actions.’ When friends were urging




him to be ordained, and he was partially engaged in the
very work to which ordination officially conducts the
minister of the Gospel, he was pleasing himself with
the persuasion that he could not enter holy orders for
two more years, because Bishop Benson had expressed
his resolution not to lay hands on any one who was
under twenty-three years of age. That he strongly
desired to do what yet he would not do, because his
judgment and his conscience were not fully convinced,
is evident from the way in which his mind ran in his
dreams; for though he calls the dream spoken of in the
next sentence ‘a notice from God,’ it was undoubtedly
the consequence of his state of mind about the ministry.
He says, ‘Long ere
I had the least prospect of being
called before the bishop,
I dreamed one night I was
talking with him in his palace, and that he gave me some
gold, which seemed to sound again in my hand. After-
ward this dream would often come into my mind; and,
whenever I saw the bishop at church, a strong persuasion
would arise in my mind, that I should very shortly go to
I always checked it, and prayed to God to pre-
serve me from ever desiring that honour which cometh
of man. One afternoon it happened that the bishop
took a solitary walk—as I was afterwards told—to Lady
Selwyn’s, near Gloucester, who, not long before, had
made me a present of a piece of gold. She,
I found,
recommended me to the bishop; and, a few days after,
I was coming from the cathedral prayers, thinking of
no such thing, one of the vergers called after me, and
said the bishop desired to speak with me.
at that time of my dream—immediately turned back,
considering what I had done to deserve his lordship’s
displeasure. When
I came to the top of the palace
stairs, the bishop took me by the hand, told me he was
glad to see me, and bid me wait a little till he had put
off his habit, and he would return to me again. This


gave me opportunity of praying to God for His assist-
ance, and for His providence over me.


          ‘At his coming again into the room, the bishop told
me he had heard of my character, liked my behaviour at
church, and inquiring my age, “Notwithstanding,” says
he, “I have declared I would not ordain any one under
three and twenty, yet I shall think it my duty to ordain
you whenever you come for holy orders.” He then
made me a present of five guineas, to buy me a book;
which, sounding again in my hand, put me in mind of
my dream; whereupon my heart was filled with a sense
of God’s love.’


          Eager friends knew of the interview before Whitefield
got home, and were full of anxiety to learn what his
lordship had said; and, on hearing it, they at once
judged that he who should neglect such a plain leading
of providence would be going against God. It was time
to yield; Whitefield determined to offer himself for ordi-
nation the next Ember-days.


          That determination made, the next question was as to
his place of labour; and here contending interests dis-
turbed him. At Gloucester he had been useful, and his
friends wished to have him with them. But when he
went up to Oxford, his old friends there made out a still
more urgent case on behalf of his staying with them:
John and Charles Wesley had sailed to Savannah to act
as chaplains to a new colony there, and to attempt the
conversion of the Creek Indians: the prisoners in the
gaol needed some one to supply their lack of service:
Whitefield had been as useful at Oxford as at Gloucester:
Oxford was one of the schools of the prophets, and every
student converted was a parish gained. To remove any
objection of a pecuniary nature which might have been
urged, application for money aid was made to Sir John
Philips, who was a great friend of Methodists, and who
at once said that Whitefield should have twenty pounds

a year from him, even if he did not stay at Oxford, but
thirty pounds if he did. Oxford prevailed over Gloucester,
but its triumph was not for long; all English-speaking
countries came and claimed their right in him; and
large, brave heart was not slow to respond. Wesley
uttered the fine saying
‘The world is my parish;’
Whitefield, the most nearly of any man, made the saying
a simple statement of fact.


          Meanwhile devout and conscientious preparation was
made for the approaching ordination, three days before
which the candidate waited on the fatherly bishop who
had shown him such marked kindness, and who now
expressed his satisfaction both with the candidate’s pre-
paration and the provision of Sir John Philips; and
further said, that, but for the intention concerning Ox-
ford, with which he was well pleased, there were two
little parishes which he had purposed to offer White-
field. The ordination was to be on Trinity Sunday. The
preceding day was spent by Whitefield in abstinence and
prayer; ‘in the evening,’ he says, ‘I retired to a hill
near the town, and prayed fervently for about two hours,
in behalf of myself and those who were to be ordained
with me. On Sunday morning I rose early, and prayed
over St. Paul’s epistle to Timothy, and more particularly
over that precept, ‘Let no one despise thy youth;’ and
when the bishop laid his hands upon my head, if my vile
heart doth not deceive me, I offered up my whole spirit,
soul, and body to the service of God’s sanctuary;
afterwards sealed the good confession I had made before
many witnesses, by partaking of the holy sacrament of
our Lord’s most blessed body and blood.’ Elsewhere
says, ‘this is a day’ (June 20, 1736) ‘much to be re-
membered, 0 my soul! for, about noon, I was solemnly
admitted by good Bishop Benson, before many witnesses,
into holy orders, and was, blessed be God! kept com-
posed both before and after imposition of hands. I


endeavoured to behave with unaffected devotion, but not
suitable enough to the greatness of the office I was to
undertake. At the same time, I trust I answered to
every question from the bottom of my heart, and heartily
prayed that God might say Amen. I hope the good of
souls will be my only principle of action. Let come
what will, life or death, depth or height, I shall hence-
forward live like one who this day, in the presence of
men and angels, took the holy sacrament, upon the pro-
fession of being inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to
take upon me that ministration in the church. This I
began with reading prayers to the prisoners in the
county gaol. Whether I myself shall ever have the
honour of styling myself a prisoner of the Lord, I know
not; but, indeed, I can call heaven and earth to witness,
that when the bishop laid his hand upon me, I gave
myself up to be a martyr for Him who hung upon the
cross for me.’


          Who his fellow-candidates were, he nowhere says;
and probably not one of them emerged from the ob-
scurity of their humble parishes. There was not another
Methodist among them beside Whitefield, or we should
surely have heard of him.


          A pleasant picture comes before us in the ordination
of the young deacon in his native city on a Midsummer
Sunday. No doubt a goodly company of Gloucester
folk attended the ceremony, and among them the mother
of the candidate; her heart big with joy for the early
honour that had come to him
to him from whom she
had always expected much comfort; but little dreaming
of the greater honour of the future in his world-wide
usefulness, and in a loving remembrance of him, cherished
among all who shall ever appreciate disinterested re-
ligious zeal, or admire genius; and when, at his bishop’s
command, he read the Gospel, and his manly voice,
distinct and clear in every note, swept round the cathe-


dral, it may have come to her mind how he once told
her that God had called him to be a minister, and how
she had sharply silenced him, because he seemed too
graceless for the holy calling. The sweet light of all is
the benignant countenance of ‘good Bishop Benson,’ as it
is turned in fatherly kindness upon the kneeling candi-
dates, or lifted up to meet the gaze of the interested con-
gregation. Such a bishop could not but enhance, with
great spiritual beauty, an ordinance which can fail to
solemn and tender only when its celebrants are sordid
souls, without the love of God or man.


          Many of Whitefield’s friends pressed him to preach in
the afternoon after his ordination, but he could not. He
had been in Gloucester a fortnight, partly with the inten-
tion of composing some sermons. He wanted ‘a hundred
at least,’ so that he might not be altogether without
ministerial resources, compelled always to go from the
study to the pulpit with a newly forged weapon; but,
alas! he found, like many other beginners who have
attempted the same thing, that sermons cannot easily be
made without the helping excitement of expected and
appointed work. He had matter enough in his heart,
but nothing would flow from his pen. He strove and
prayed, but all to no purpose. He mentioned his case
to a clergyman; but that gentleman showed his refine-
ment of feeling and his sympathy with a young man’s
anxiety and fear on the threshold of public life, by tell-
ing Whitefield that he was an enthusiast. He wrote
another, and this time the response was kind, assuring
him of the writer’s prayers, and explaining to him
God might be dealing with him in this manner. At last
he thought he found the cause of his inability explained
by these words: ‘We assayed to go into Bithynia, but
the Spirit suffered us not;’ and by the words spoken to
Ezekiel—‘Thou shalt be dumb; but when I speak unto
thee, then shalt thou speak.’ This made him quite

easy; he did ‘not doubt but that He who increased a
little lad’s loaves and fishes for the feeding of a great
multitude would, from time to time, supply him with
spiritual food for whatever congregation he should be
called to.’ The morning after his ordination, while he
was praying, came these words into his mind—‘Speak
out.’ How he used that permission, and how his one
sermon grew till he had preached eighteen thousand
times, or ten times a week for four-and-thirty years, and
fed multitudes beyond computation, it will be our next
duty to trace.


 On the Sunday after his ordination, that is, on June
27, 1736, Whitefield preached his first sermon. It was
delivered in the old familiar church to a large congrega-
tion, which had assembled out of curiosity to hear a
townsman; its subject was ‘The Necessity and Benefit of
Religious Society.’ A feeling of awe crept over him as
he looked upon the crowd of faces, many of which had
been familiar to him from his infancy. Former efforts
in public speaking, when a boy, and his labours in
exhorting the poor, proved of immense service to him,
removing—what has often overwhelmed bold and capable
speakers on their first appearance—the sense of utter
strangeness to the work; his soul felt comforted with the
presence of the Almighty; and as he proceeded the fire
kindled, fear forsook him, and he spoke with ‘gospel
authority.’ A few mocked; but there could be no doubt
about the power of the new preacher. A complaint was
soon made to the bishop that fifteen persons had been
driven mad by his sermon. The bishop only replied,
that he hoped the madness might not be forgotten before
another Sunday. Nor is that first sermon without another
touch of interest. It was not prepared, in the first in-
stance, for St. Mary de Crypt, but for a ‘small Christian
society;’ a fact which accounts for its being on such an
unusual topic for beginners, and for the thoroughly


Methodistical thoughts found at its close. Just as it had
been preached to the society was it sent by its author to
a neighbouring clergyman, to show him how unfit the
author was to preach; he kept it a fortnight, and then
sent it back with a guinea for the loan of it, saying that
he had divided it into two, and preached it to his people
morning and evening.


          There is nothing remarkable about it excepting its
evident juvenile authorship; its advocacy of religious
intercourse more close than was then known, either
within or without the pale of the established church,
and which still is peculiar to Methodism in its several
branches; and its bold attack on ‘those seemingly inno-
cent entertainments and meetings, which the politer part
of the world are so very fond of, and spend so much
time in, but which, notwithstanding, keep as many
persons from a sense of true religion, as doth intem-
perance, debauchery, or any other crime whatever.’ It
would have made a suitable sermon for inaugurating class
meetings, or for celebrating an anniversary on their behalf.
Still, the idea of a class meeting is not to be ascribed
to Whitefield; it is Wesley’s, through a happy acci-

          On Tuesday he preached again, and repeated his
attacks upon polite sinners. Before he returned to
Oxford on the Wednesday, Bishop Benson added to all
his past kindnesses one more,—a present of five guineas,
which, with a quarter’s allowance now due from Sir John
Philips, enabled him to pay his ordination expenses, and
take his bachelor’s degree.


          For another week he wore the servitor’s habit, and
then assumed the gown of a bachelor of arts. The
Methodists, who had received him with great joy on his
return to Oxford, installed him as their chief, and com-
mitted to his charge the religious oversight of their work,
and the charity-money which they collected and used for


poor prisoners. A sweet repose rests upon this part of
his life. Heart and mind were at peace; studies were
pursued with satisfaction; intercourse with religious
friends was free and congenial; private Christian duties,
prayer, praise, and meditation, charmed him to his room;
work was to be done for the defence and spread of truth.
One would fain stay with him here, and watch his
growth of thought and preparation for coming toil; but
there was no pause or break in this life; and we must
presently start with him on his first preaching tour,
which, unconsciously to himself, really began his circuit
of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and North America,
a circuit which he never ceased to travel until death
smote him down. Our last glimpse of him in his ‘sweet
retirement ’ sees him poring over Matthew Henry’s Com-
mentary; and then writing to a friend down at Gloucester
—‘Herewith I have sent you seven pounds to pay for
Mr. Henry’s Commentary:   Hear Squire Thorold lately

made me a present of ten guineas, so that now (for ever
blessed be the Divine goodness!) I can send you more than
I thought for. In time I hope to pay the apothecary’s
bill. If I forget your favours, I shall also forget my God.
Say nothing of your receiving this money; only give
thanks, give hearty thanks to our good and gracious God
for his infinite, unmerited mercy to me, the vilest of the
sons of men.’


          Humble, yet far advanced in the favour of God;
obscure, yet within a step of dazzling popularity; poor,
yet soon to ‘make many richfrail, yet just putting
out an unwitting hand to labours rivalling in danger,
in suffering, in shame, and in toilsomeness those of St.
Paul, he stepped forth from his study before he was
twenty-two years old.


          A trivial circumstance called him forth. The curate of
the Tower chapel, London, who was an intimate friend,
having to go into Hampshire to officiate there for a short


time, asked him to fill his place during his absence from
home. Whitefield complied with the request, and took
coach for London on Wednesday, August 4, 1736, with
much fear and trembling. His first sermon in the metro-
polis was preached on the following Sunday afternoon, in
Bishopsgate church. His youthful appearance as he went
up the pulpit stairs provoked, as he in his sensitive state
of mind thought, a general sneer, which, however,
exchanged for solemn seriousness when he got into his
sermon. He again conquered himself and his congre-
gation; and the people, on his coming down from the
pulpit, showed him every respect, and blessed him as he
passed along. No one could answer the question which
was now on every one’s lips—‘Who was the preacher
to-day?’ Attention had been gained, and the two short
months of the London visit were quite long enough to
secure a crowded chapel every Sunday. Any ordinary
man might have been sure of perfect quietness in such a
place as the Tower chapel, and of returning home as
unknown as when he entered the city; and no doubt
such would have been Whitefield’s case but for his
wonderful powers and for that blessing from above
which went whithersoever he went. The usual weari-
some time which ability and worth spend in self-
culture, in striving with self till it is well mastered, in
grappling with prejudices, and, not improbably, with
positive injustice, was a time that never came to White-
field. Edward Irving preached to an audience which
cared little for him, though much for his great master,
Dr. Chalmers; and worked on hopefully
and bravely
under the shadow of a universal favourite, until the
little congregation at Hatton Garden ‘gave him a call.’
Robert Hall was cramped and galled by the prejudices of
insignificant men, who compassed him in his early days
like bees, and had to wait for the approving verdict of
nobler and better minds. And the discipline was needed;


it made the after-life all the purer.  But Whitefield came
to manhood in youth; his sun rose to its zenith at early
morn. For him to preach was at once to spread ex-
citement, and draw together masses of people; and,
when they came, he never lost his hold upon them.
His manner always charmed, never offended; whereas
the utmost mental ability and personal worth of many
preachers can hardly sustain the patience of their hearers
through a beggarly half-hour’s sermon. His thought
was always marked by good sense; no one could be
disgusted with inanity. His emotion was always fresh,
streaming from his heart as from a perennial fountain;
and, unless the hearer could not feel, could not be touched
by tenderness or awe, he was sure to find his soul made
more sensitive. The hearts of most were melted in the
intense heat of the preacher’s fervour, like silver in a
refiner’s furnace.


          During his stay at the Tower he preached and cate-
chised once a week, and visited the soldiers in the
barracks and in the infirmary daily; every morning and
evening he read prayers at Wapping chapel; and on
the Tuesday he preached at Ludgate prison. ‘Religious
friends from divers parts of the town,’ he says, ‘attended
the word, and several young men came on Lord’s day
morning under serious impressions, to hear me discourse
about the new birth. The chapel was crowded on Lord’s


          Here a letter reached him from his old friends the Wes-
leys, which told all that they were doing in Georgia, and
made him long to go and join them. But difficulties
stood in the way. He had no ‘outward call,’ and his
health was supposed to be unequal to a sea voyage. He
strove to throw off the new thoughts and feelings; prayed
that the Lord would not suffer him to be deluded; and
asked the counsel of his friends. His friends were not
less sensible in advising, than he had been in asking for

advice. They, too, laid emphasis on the absence of a
definite call from abroad; they urged the need of
labourers at home, and begged their friend to avoid
rashness, and wait further for an intimation of the will
of God. Their counsel was received with all respect;
and Whitefield, agreeing that it was best to do so,
banished Georgia from his mind for the present, and
went on heartily with his preaching and visiting, until
the return of his friend from the country.


          Then he went back to his delightful life at Oxford for
a few weeks more; and, for the last time, his quiet duties
were resumed. His state of mind seemed to presage the
wonders of his ministry; his heart burned with even
more than its former fervour; and other students having
received a similar impulse to their spiritual life, White-
field’s room was daily the scene of such religious services
as distinguished the Church immediately after the descent
of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, when little bands of
devout disciples met to pray and to encourage each other
in the profession of the name of .Jesus Christ.


          Kindness waited on him during these few weeks, as it
did during the rest of his life. His power to win the
hearts of rich and poor, which, as Doctor Johnson would
have said, always kept his friendships in repair, had
constrained the heart of a gentleman in London, who,
without the least solicitation, sent him money for the
poor, and also as much for himself as sufficed to dis-
charge a small debt contracted for books before he took
his degree. Lady Betty Hastings, sister of the Earl of
Huntingdon, also assisted both him and some of his
Methodist friends, thus beginning an intimacy between
him and her family which lasted as long as he lived, and
grew deeper towards the end.


          Things were beginning to give promise of the future;
the dim outline of his career was distinguishable. College
quietness had been broken; a first attempt at public
work had been successfully made. Georgia had come
before his mind; and, although banished for a while, it
was soon to return, and the next time with an imperative


          In November, another call to preach came to him;
and it was sent upon a principle which has been so ex-
tensively put in practice by a large section of clergymen
in the Church of England, as to demand more than pass-
ing mention. The early Methodist preachers, who were
the true predecessors, in a spiritual line, of the later
Evangelical School’ of the Church of England, were the
first to set the example, which the Evangelicals have
largely copied, of always seeking men of their own reli-
gious views to fill their pulpits when they had occasion
to be from home. It was not enough simply to seek the
aid of any brother clergyman. Their clear persuasion
that they held the saving doctrines of the gospel; that
they were moved by the Holy Ghost; and that through
such channels the largest supplies of the grace of life
were likely to come—not to say could alone come—upon
the hearers, compelled them to hold fast to each other,
and to keep away from their pulpits and from their
parishes every man who did not avow himself one of
their faith. There was nothing to condemn in such
exclusiveness generally; for most men would prefer to
have their teaching substantiated and confirmed by
others, rather than condemned and assailed, even should
they not attach to it the vital importance which Metho-
dists attached to their doctrines. That a touch of spi-
ritual pride may not have been felt when they practically
constituted themselves into a spiritual priesthood which
was alone fit to minister the ‘word of life when they
established a spiritual church within a church; when
they repudiated the right, because questioning the fitness,
of any other clergyman to preach, it would be hazardous
to affirm. But, on the other hand, it would be an un-


charitable, an unjust charge against them, were they chal-
lenged with ecclesiastical or church pride, in addition to
a fault of which they may, or may not, have been guilty.
All their anxiety was, that the truth of God
be spoken by men of God; and they elected to have a
judgment as to who was a man of God, without being
bound by any previous church action in regard to him.
That he had been ordained was to them no proof of his
investiture by Heaven of authority to fill his office and
ministry; indeed, they quickly came to the conclusion,
that, with or without ordination, any one who was a
believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and full of the Holy
Ghost, was fit to preach, and ought to have the counte-
nance of all true Christians in the fulfilment of his duty.
They would not have accounted a surgeon fit for his pro-
fession merely because he was in it; and although the
Church might, upon certain required declarations, have
made a man a priest, yet they still contended that they
had a right to judge whether he was a good priest or a bad
one; and, in case he showed himself to be a bad one, to
treat him according to his character. It was not less than
sincere men could have done; it is not less than is daily
done now, none finding fault. Thus it was that the Metho-
dist clergyman of Hummer, in Hampshire, ‘being likely
to be chosen dean of Corpus Christi College,’ sent for the
Methodist deacon of Pembroke to preach for him, while
he himself went to Oxford to attend to the pending pro-
motion. The young deacon asked, as usual, the advice
of his friends; and the two friends exchanged places.


          Trouble now arose from an unexpected quarter. He
who had felt himself to be the vilest of men could
‘brook’ having intercourse with the poor, illiterate people
of the would-be Dean of Corpus Christi! Amidst the
moral and intellectual barrenness of his new charge,
Whitefield would have given all the world for one of his
Oxford friends, and ‘mourned for lack of them like a





dove.’ To overcome his unholy aversion he gave him-
self to prayer, and to the study of a fictitious character,

Ourania,’ which William Law has sketched in his ‘Serious
Call to a Devout Life,’ as a pattern of humility. The
unlovely rustics became more pleasant to his eye, and he
found, what everybody finds who goes amongst the poor
with a warm heart, that their conversation, artless,
honest, and fresh, was full of instruction and stimulus;
his new friends successfully contended for his heart
against the old ones. It became no unpalatable duty to
go and visit them, seeing they often taught him as much
in an afternoon as he could learn by a week’s private
study. He imbibed the spirit of the Apostle, who was
ready ‘to become all things to all men, if by any means
he might save some;’ the spirit, too, of a greater than St.
Paul, whom ‘the common people heard gladly.’


          His friend had also set him a good example of method
in his work, which he wisely followed. Public prayers
were read twice a day—in the morning before the people
went out to work, and in the evening after they returned;
children were also catechised daily, and the people
visited from house to house. His day was divided into
three parts; eight hours for study and retirement; eight
for sleep and meals; and eight for reading prayers, cate-
chising, and visiting the parish.


          During this visit he had an invitation to a profitable
curacy in London, no doubt through his London labours;
but it was declined. A more inviting, because a more
difficult and more trying, sphere of labour was Georgia,
to which he was now called in a way earnest enough to
arouse all the enthusiasm of his ardent soul, and plain
enough to leave him without a doubt that God willed
that he should go. While the agreeable quietude and
holy companionships of Oxford were continued to him,
Georgia was not thought of; but removal from them
revived all the agitation and anxiety that he had felt
when Georgian news first reached him at the Tower. A
predisposition in favour of the new colony was in process
of formation when, in December, news came of the

return of Charles Wesley. Next there came a letter
from his old friend,
stating that he had come over for
labourers; but adding, with reference to Whitefield,—
I dare not prevent God’s nomination.’ A few days
elapsed, and a letter came from John, couched in
stronger and less diffident language than Charles had
used. So strange and unexpected are the changes which
come over the course of events in life, that Wesley, who
was shortly to leave America, and never again visit it,
could write in this urgent and confident way—‘Only
Mr. Delamotte is with me, till God shall stir up the hearts
of some of His servants, who, putting their lives in their
hands, shall come over and help us, where the harvest is
so great, and the labourers so few. What if thou art the
man, Mr. Whitefield?’ Another of his letters, by pre-
senting to Whitefield’s mind nothing but heavenly
rewards, was still better calculated to secure his co-
operation—‘Do you ask me,’ he says, ‘what you shall
have? Food to eat, and raiment to put on, a house to lay
your head in such as your Master had not, and a crown
of glory that fadeth not away.’ As Whitefield read, his
heart leaped within him, and echoed to the call. The
call was heaven-sent, if ever any call has been.


          The United States, then a line of English colonies, were
to share largely in Whitefield’s labours, and he as largely
in their kindness and generosity; and that hand which
was beckoning him to their shore, was quietly and effec-
tually undoing the ties which held him to England. Mr.
Kinchin obtained the appointment of Dean of
Christi, and could take Whitefield’s place as the leader of
Methodism at Oxford. Mr. Hervey was ready to serve
the cure of Dummer. No place would suffer from White-
field’s departure, and there seemed to be a necessity for


him to help Georgia, which was a young, increasing
colony, enjoying much favour from the home govern-
ment. Besides, there were many Indians near the colony,
and Whitefield felt the stirrings of a missionary spirit.
As for the old hindrance of his supposed inability to
endure a sea voyage, it was disposed of by the report
that the sea was sometimes beneficial to feeble people.
In any case, whether the experiment turned out well or
ill, he would have to return for priest’s orders, and it
would then be for him to decide where his field of labour
was to be. In short, the decision was given in favour of
Georgia, and in a way that made alteration almost out of
the question. Neither Oxford friends nor Gloucester
relations were this time consulted; but a firm, personal
resolution was made, which nothing was to be allowed
to assail. Relations were informed of his intentions, but
told that he would not so much as come to bid them
farewell, unless they promised not to dissuade him; for
he said that he knew his own weakness.


          However, his weakness so far gained upon him as to
send him down to Gloucester on New Year’s Day,
1736-7, after he had said goodbye to his friends at
Oxford; and his strength had so much increased that he
succeeded in abiding by his purpose. Bishop Benson
welcomed him as a father, approved of his design, wished
him success, and said, ‘I do not doubt but God will bless
you, and that you will do much good abroad.’ But his
own relations at first were not so passive. His mother
wept sore’—which was both to his credit and hers.
Others tempted him with base words, which must have
buttressed his citadel, instead of undermining it; they
‘urged what pretty preferments he might have if he
would stay at home.’ He showed no wavering, and the
opposition ceased.


          This farewell visit was marked by that constant industry
which distinguished him to the last. He preached often




enough‘to grow a little popular,’ and to gather large con-
gregations, which were moved by the word of God. In
three weeks he went to Bristol to take leave of his friends
there; and again he preached, undertaking duty this time
in an unexpected way. It being his custom, go where he
might, to attend the daily services of the Church, he went
to St. John’s to hear a sermon. When prayers were over,
and the psalm was being sung, the minister came to him
and asked him to preach. ‘Having his notes about him,
he complied.’ The next day the same thing was repeated
at St. Stephen’s, but this time the ‘alarm’ excited by his
preaching was so widespread, that, on the following Sunday,
crowds of people, of all denominations, ‘Quakers, Bap-
tists, Presbyterians, &c.’ flocked to the churches where
he had to officiate, and many were unable to find admis-
sion. The civic authorities paid him respect, the mayor
appointing him to preach before himself and the corpo-
ration. ‘For some time following he preached all the
lectures on week-days, and twice on Sundays, besides
visiting the religious societies.’ As always, so now, he
preached with power and with the Holy Ghost; and the
new doctrines—new as compared with the prevalent
teaching of the times
of justification by faith and the
new birth—‘made their way like lightning into the
hearers’ consciences.’ It is touching to mark the holy
jealousy with which, amid the city’s excitement and eager-
ness to hear him, he entreated a friend—‘Oh! pray, dear
Mr. H., that God would always keep me humble, and
fully convinced that I am nothing without Him, and that
all the good which is done upon earth, God doth it







                                CHAPTER III.


                    March, 1737—March, 1738.



                            POPULARITY  FIRST VOYAGE.


Georgia was the last colony founded in America by
England. Its charter was dated the ninth day of June,
1732; its name was given in honour of George II.
Reasons, partly political and partly philanthropical, actu-
ated the original Trustees of the colony and the imperial
government in undertaking the work. The chief poli-
tical reason was, that the Spaniards and the French were
likely to disturb the possessions already held by the
British crown on the American sea-board, and Georgia
was intended to be an outpost for holding them in check.
How its exposed position caused Whitefield and his
friends no little anxiety will by-and-by appear.


          The philanthropical reason was discovered by James
Oglethorpe, who, as a commissioner for inquiring into
the state of the gaols throughout the kingdom, had found
out how vast and how intense was the misery hidden in
them. His attention was especially directed to the state
of poor debtors, many of whom had been so long in con-
finement that when, at his intercession with Parliament,
they were released, they went out both friendless and
helpless. It was necessary to find a home for them, and
not leave them to face fresh temptations and fresh risks
of finding their way back to prison. The population of
England was also thought to be greater than the country
could well sustain; and Oglethorpe anticipated the satis-


faction of transplanting many families to enjoy riches and
comfort in the new land, which was described as a land
of beauty and plenty, instead of enduring poverty and
wretchedness at home. The Highlanders of Scotland,
who, although they did not swarm among their native
hills and valleys, like the poor in the yards of London,
yet had poverty to complain of, and were restless through
political troubles not long past and gone; and many of
these also accepted the opportunity of emigrating. The
sympathy of Oglethorpe, a man of somewhat romantic, as
well as philanthropic, turn of mind, was also called out
towards the persecuted Protestants of Germany; and
through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel an
invitation was given to the Saltzburgers, who had been
driven from their homes by Roman Catholic cruelty and
bigotry, to settle in the new colony, where Catholics
would not be permitted to come.


          The first company of emigrants, numbering one hundred
and twenty, and headed by Oglethorpe, was composed
principally of poor English. After they landed, a vessel,
containing twenty Jewish families, sailed into their waters,
and permission was asked and gained to land and settle in
the colony. Next came a vessel carrying forty convicts,
who had been refused at Jamaica; but Georgia, not being
equally dainty in her tastes, received them, and in due
time found them troublesome enough.


          The second company of emigrants, numbering three
hundred persons, and also headed by Oglethorpe, was
composed of English, Scotch, and Moravians. The two
Wesleys, with their friends Delamotte and Ingham, were
on board one of the vessels.


          The governing power of the colony was, for the first
twenty-one years, in the hands of twenty-one Trustees,
who collected money for fitting out the colonists and
maintaining them, till they could clear the lands;’ ap-
pointed all the officers, and ‘regulated all the concerns




of the colony.’ A considerable proportion of them were
Presbyterians, and at their head was the fourth Earl
of Shaftesbury. Oglethorpe, the most active and the
most distinguished of their number, was appointed gover-
nor of the colony; in 1737, he was created brigadier-


          The Trustees ‘prohibited the introduction of ardent
spirits,’ says Bancroft, but Whitefield mentions rum as
the only liquor prohibited. They also forbade the intro-
duction of slaves. The testimony of Oglethorpe, who yet
had once been willing to employ Negroes, and once, at
least, ordered the sale of a slave, explains the motive of
the prohibition. ‘Slavery,’ he relates, ‘is against the
gospel, as well as the fundamental law of England. We
refused, as Trustees, to make a law permitting such a
horrid crime.’ ‘The purchase of Negroes is forbidden,’
wrote Yon Beck, ‘on account of the vicinity of the
Spaniards; ’ and this was doubtless ‘the governmental
view.’ The colony was also ‘an asylum to receive the
distressed. It was necessary, therefore, not to permit
slaves in such a country, for slaves starve the poor
labourer.’ But, after a little more than two years, several
‘of the better sort of people in Savannah’ addressed a
petition to the Trustees ‘for the use of Negroes.’1 With
this opinion of the Trustees the Moravians thoroughly
agreed; and, ‘in earnest memorials, they long depre-
cated the employment of Negro slaves, pleading the
ability of the white man to toil even under the suns of


        The first lot of emigrants fixed their settlement on the
banks of the Savannah, under the direction of Oglethorpe;
and friendly relations were established with the Creeks,
the Indians of the country, who numbered 25,000. Their


1 Bancroft’s History of the Colonisation of the United States,’ vol. iii.
            p. 426.

2 Ibid. p. 430.



rights were respected, and their goodwill conciliated.
Everything showed a desire on the part of the Trustees
and their representative to make the colony morally
sound and useful. It was not to be a marauding expe-
dition in any sense; and was to enjoy, as far as possible,
all the social advantages of the mother country.


          With a view of keeping the sanctions of religion before
the minds of the settlers, a chaplain, by name Bosomworth,
was sent out with the first company; his fitness for his
office proved to be nothing but a simulated piety. He
soon directed his attention to other things than his spi-
ritual duties, and by his artful use of the poor Indians
almost succeeded in ruining the colony. There was
among the Indians a native woman, named Mary Mus-
grove, who had formerly lived among the English in
some more northern settlements, and here the new comers
employed as interpreter between themselves and the
natives. Her position thus became very influential; and
Bosomworth took her to himself for wife, doubtless with
the intention of using her as a tool for his own ambitious
ends. He first inflamed the pride of the Indians by per-
suading them to crown one of the greatest of their
number ‘as prince and emperor of all the Creeks then
he made his wife declare herself to be the eldest sister of
the new sovereign, and the granddaughter of a former
Creek king, whom the Great Spirit himself had conse-
crated to the kingly office. He next got Mary to declare
to a large assembly of her countrymen, that the whites
were oppressing and robbing them, and deserved
mination. Assuming the attitude of a second Boadicea,
she called them to arm themselves, to stand by her, and
to drive the enemy from their territories. Nor were they
slow to respond. Every chief swore fidelity to her;
warriors painted themselves with war-paint; tomahawks
were sharpened to cleave British skulls. A dusky army,
headed by the royal lady and her chaplain-husband,



marched against Savannah; but their progress was effec-
tually stopped by a little company of horsemen, led by
an intrepid man, named Noble Jones. The leaders were
ordered into the city; the chiefs might follow without
arms. Oglethorpe found, from a friendly interview with
the natives, that they had been deceived, and that his
own chaplain was the cause of the mischief, which had
been intended to end only with the destruction of all the
whites. Bosomworth was ordered to prison, but this
measure was bravely resisted by Mary, who cursed the
general to his face, and declared that she stood upon ground
which was her own. Such a spirit could only be safely
dealt with in one way, and Mary too was thrown into
prison. A conciliatory course was pursued towards the
Indians; they were entertained at a feast; and the trick
which had been played upon them exposed in calm and
friendly intercourse. But while all things were going on
so pleasantly, Mary managed to escape from prison.
Hearing of the feast, she dashed in among the company,
exclaiming, ‘Seize your arms! seize your arms! Re-
member your promise, and defend your queen.’ The
scene was changed at once; the guests stood with toma-
hawk in hand, ready to slay their hosts, and turn a
feasting-liall into a shambles. Noble Jones was again
equal to the emergency; with his drawn sword he de-
manded peace. Mary, to whom the Indians looked for
directions, quailed under his courage, and was quietly led
back by him to prison. Confinement humbled husband
and wife, who, upon confession of their wrong and after
promising amendment, were suffered to go free and leave
the city. But again they laid an unsuccessful plot to
seize three of the Sea Islands. The crafty man next ap-
pealed with more success to the law of England, and
actually succeeded in getting one of the islands, St. Ca-
therine’s, as his own property, by a legal judgment. Here
he lived supreme. Here he buried Mary, and also a


second wife, formerly one of his servants. When he died,
he was buried between them.


          Such a chaplain was not good either for colonist or
native; and one can hardly wonder that a native chief,
when urged to embrace Christianity, should have said,
and should have had good ground for doing so, ‘Why,
these are Christians at Savannah! these are Christians at
Frederica! Christian much drunk!1 Christian beat men
Christian tell lies! Devil Christian! Me no Christian!


          The Trustees did not, on account of one failure, lose
all faith in their plan of having a chaplain. One of their
number, Dr. Burton, of Corpus Christi College, knowing
the religious zeal of John Wesley and his contempt for
the ordinary comforts of life, recommended him to
Oglethorpe as the right kind of man for the rough work
to be done. At first Wesley refused to entertain the
offer made to him; but his mother’s willingness to part
with him when such a duty called, finally decided him to
accept it. His brother Charles, though already ordained,
also accompanied him in the capacity of secretary to the
governor. They reached Savannah on February 5,1736.
John was to stay there; and Charles was to accompany
the governor to Frederica, on the island of St. Simon’s,
another settlement on the coast, about one hundred miles
farther south.


          Nothing could have been more unfortunate, nothing
more unwise, than the conduct of these two estimable
men in their respective spheres of duty. John, mis-
guided by the same mistaken views which he held so sin-
cerely and so vigorously while at Oxford, treated
charge (with whom he ought to have been gentle and
forbearing) as a mediaeval abbot might have treated a
band of monks who had vowed obedience to his sternest
rules. He would baptize infants only by immersion.


1 ‘ Christian much drunk,’ because, when rum was prohibited, the ‘Chris-
tians ’ had it smuggled in.



When a Dissenter, evidently as good a Christian, if not
better than himself, desired to communicate, he would
not suffer him to do so unless he would consent to be
baptized again; and to another Dissenter he denied (with
a bigotry unhappily still lingering among some English
clergymen) the right of Christian burial. He either be-
came or seemed to become, so personal in his attacks
upon the vices and follies of his hearers—and it is easy to
believe that he would see plenty of both in such a com-
munity—that he soon had a greatly diminished audience.
He seemed bent upon driving the people to accept his
own rigid form of religion, and the people were equally
determined not to be driven. Law was in his lips con-
stantly, but not ‘the law of kindness,’ although he was
one of the kindest of men. The consequence was a wide-
spread and deep dislike of him and of his teaching, which
culminated when he refused the sacrament to a Miss
Causton, with whom he had become intimate after his
arrival, and who had sought to entrap him into marriage.
In his unhappy connexion with this lady he behaved
with perfect uprightness, while she and General Ogle-
thorpe, her prompter, were as much to be condemned.
Oglethorpe had thought to cure the eccentricities and
sweeten the severity of his chaplain, by getting him
married; and Sophia Causton was to play the en-
chantress. But, fortunately for Wesley, his friends saw
further into the young lady’s heart than he did; and
being warned that all was not sincere, he broke off the
connexion. His denying her the sacrament (by this time
she had married a Mr. Williamson) was undoubtedly the
result of those inflexible notions of duty which had
brought him into such ill-favour with the colonists, and
not of any petty feeling of revenge. He must have known
that his intended action would expose him to attack, both
publicly and privately; yet he resolutely carried out his
purpose. Private persecution and public legal action


were put in force against him. He met them without
flinching. It was only when he saw that his usefulness was
at an end that he thought of returning home; and when
he left the colony, it was with a hearty defiance flung in
the face of those who would have crushed him by legal
impositions. If at this time he lacked St. Paul’s gentle
charity and forbearance, he lacked none of his resolute-
ness of self-defence. Before leaving, he called upon his
hottest enemy
Mrs. Williamson’s uncle, the chief magis-
trate of Savannah
told him of his intention, and asked
for money for the expenses of his voyage. He also
posted the following notification and request in the city
square:—‘Whereas John Wesley designs shortly to set
out for England, this is to desire those who have bor-
rowed any books of him to return them as soon as they
conveniently can.’ Being forbidden by the magistrates
to leave the province until he had answered the allega-
tions brought against him (though he was leaving simply
because he was tormented by constant appearances before
courts which wearied him, and hindered him from doing
good), or until he had offered sufficient bail for his ap-
pearance, he told them that they should have neither
bond nor bail from him, and added the plain words,
‘You know your business, and I know mine.’ The order,

‘not meant to be obeyed,’ that he was to be taken into
custody if he attempted to escape from the province, did
not move him; and he left indignant and defiant. ‘Being,’
he says, ‘now only a prisoner at large in a place where I
knew by experience every day would give fresh oppor-
tunity to procure evidence of words I never said, and
actions I never did, I saw clearly the hour was come for
leaving this place; and soon as evening prayers were
over, about eight o’clock, the tide then serving, I shook
off the dust of my feet, and left Georgia, after having
preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was
able) one year and nearly nine months.’





          At Frederica, Charles Wesley was as soon and as
deeply in trouble as his brother. He too began on the
stern Methodistical plan among his people, which, as we
have already seen, nearly drove Whitefield insane; and,
in six days, all the place was in a ferment of passion.
Where wise men would have shut their eyes, and let
troubles and differences right themselves, he felt bound
to interfere, and so made bad worse. The women hated
him more than the men; and some of them, reputed to
have been of ‘lax morality,’ persuaded their husbands
and friends to use their influence with the governor for
the removal of a man who would administer reproof and
maintain discipline among them. After an attempt to
shoot him had failed, the plan of falsely accusing Charles
of stirring up the people to rebel and leave the colony
was adopted, and was only too successful. It was easy
for men to pretend that they were dissatisfied, and would
not live where the chaplain was always making trouble;
and when Oglethorpe, who had been absent in another
part of the colony during the rise of the agitation, re-
turned, his mind was unfairly set against Charles Wesley
by the lying tales carried to him. Even when the charge
was disproved he remained suspicious, embittered, and
cruel; partly because, with all his generosity and magna-
nimity, he was of quick temper and fickle in resolution,
and partly because his circumstances were vexatious.
His anger had much provocation. His was the task of
building up, and every one else seemed to be going on
the principle that it was equally his task to pull down.


          Very dark days were those which the luckless, well-
meaning chaplain spent under the frown of the governor
and the colonists; and only an honest conscience could
have upheld him in his work. So extreme were the
hatred and ill-treatment to which he was subjected, that
he exclaimed, ‘Thanks be to God, it is not yet made
capital to give me a morsel of bread! The people have



found out that I am in disgrace; my few well-wishers are
afraid to speak to me; some have turned out of the way
to avoid me; others have desired that I would not take it
ill if they seemed not to know me when we should meet.
The servant who used to wash my linen sent it back un-
washed. It was great cause of triumph that I was for-
bidden the use of Mr. Oglethorpe’s things, which in effect
debarred me of most of the conveniences, if not the
necessaries, of life. I sometimes pitied them, and some-
times diverted myself with the odd expressions of their
contempt.’ Boards for a bedstead were denied him, and
he had to lie on the bare ground in a hut. One night,
when he was dreadfully ill of fever, he had the luxury of
sleeping on a bed left by a poor man whom he had buried,
and which he thought might very properly fall to his lot,
but, before the third night, it was cruelly removed by the
order of Oglethorpe, who refused to spare him a car-
penter to mend him up another.


 At length that caprice of temper which, aggravated by
circumstances, had helped the governor to maintain the
quarrel, enabled him to make approaches to Wesley for
the purpose of reconciling their differences. He admitted
the folly and injustice of his late anger, which he im-
puted to his want of time for consideration. He said, ‘I
know not whether separate spirits regard our little con-
cerns. If they do, it is as men regard the follies of their
childhood, or as I my late passionateness.’ He ordered
Charles whatever he could think he wanted; promised to
have a house built for him immediately; and was just the
same to him as he had formerly been. The people soon
found out that he had been taken into favour again, and
showed it by their ‘provoking civilities.’ Three months
afterwards he sailed for England, bearing despatches from
the governor, and never returned to the Georgian chap-
laincy, in which he had so signally failed.

If we consider the trouble with Bosomworth, the con-


tentions at Savannah, and the disaffection at Frederica,
we must admit that the irritation and temporary harsh-
ness of the governor are not without large excuse. He
hardly have helped suspecting the fidelity of his
secretary when a charge was openly laid against him, and
he remembered their recent peril from the Indians.
Something, too, of dislike to the clerical order could
hardly have been absent from his mind: indeed it was
much to his credit that he did not resolve never again to
suffer a clerk within the settlement.


          Yet ‘James Oglethorpe, Esq., and the Honourable
Trustees ’ received the young preacher, George Whitefield,
with kindness, when he appeared before them early in
March, 1737, desiring an appointment in their colony of
Georgia. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop
of London both approved of Whitefield’s design
; the
former prelate, however, expressing himself in these un-
gracious words:
I shall take particular notice of such
as go to Georgia, if they do not go out of any sinister
A nature more resentful than Whitefield’s might
have flashed up at such an insinuation, or have carried it
as a secret wound; but all that Whitefield remarks is,

‘This put me upon inquiry what were my motives in
going; and, after the strictest examination, my conscience
answered—Not to please any man living upon earth, nor
out of any sinister view; but simply to comply with what
I believe to be Thy will, 0 God, and to promote Thy
glory, Thou great Shepherd and Bishop of


          It was not an easy thing to sail to a distant land a
hundred and thirty years ago. A prolonged stay, en-
forced by the slow despatch of business, or by the
of favourable winds, often gave the traveller more than
one opportunity of saying farewell to his friends; and,
even when embarkation fairly took place, it was no
guarantee that he was finally gone. A calm might
land him at any port on the British shores, and from


thence he was sure to communicate with his friends.
Thus it happened that Whitefield, after his appointment,
continued three weeks in London, waiting for Mr. Ogle-
thorpe, who was expecting to sail every day; and then,
at last, quietly betook himself to Stonehouse in Gloucester-
shire, to supply the place of a clerical friend who went
to London on business. Of course the time spent in the
metropolis was devoted to preaching, and Stonehouse
was to prove a happier Dummer. A little ‘society’ of
pious people had prayed for him to be sent amongst
them, and great was their joy when he came. The rest
of the parishioners, all of them well instructed in Christian
truth, gave him a kindly welcome to their homes, and
attended his ministry with pleasure. His meetings in
private houses and the public services in the church were
both attended by overflowing congregations. It was a
time of much spiritual gladness with him. ‘I found,’ he
says, ‘uncommon manifestations granted me from above.
Early in the morning, at noonday, evening, and midnight,
nay, all the day long, did the blessed Jesus visit and re-
fresh my heart. Could the trees of a certain wood near
Stonehouse speak, they would tell what sweet communion
I and some dear souls enjoyed with the ever-blessed God
there. Sometimes, as I have been walking, my soul would
make such sallies that I thought it would go out of the
body. At other times I would be so overpowered with
a sense of God’s infinite majesty, that I would be con-
strained to throw myself prostrate on the ground, and
offer my soul as a blank in His hands, to write on it what
He pleased. One night was a time never to be forgotten.
It happened to lighten exceedingly. I had been ex-
pounding to many people, and some being afraid to go
home, I thought it my duty to accompany them, and im-
prove the occasion, to stir them up to prepare for the
second coming of the Son of man; but oh! what did my
soul feel? On my return to the parsonage-house, whilst


others were rising from their beds, and frightened almost
to death, to see the lightning run upon the ground, and
shine from one part of the heaven to the other, I and
another, a poor but pious countryman, were in the field
praising, praying to, and exulting in, our God, and long-
ing for that time when Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven in a flame of fire! Oh that my soul may be in a
like frame when He shall actually come to call me!’


          The gentleness and sweetness of spring had their at-
tractions for him, as well as the thunder and lightning
which so vividly reminded him of the signs of the second
coming of our Lord. It was early in May, and the
country, he says, ‘looked to me like a second paradise,
the pleasantest place I ever was in through all my life.’
The thought of leaving ‘Stonehouse people,’ with whom
he ‘agreed better and better,’ touched his affectionate
heart not a little, and he wrote to a friend—‘I believe
we shall part weeping.’ There had been but a month’s
short intercourse with them, and they were the flock of
another pastor; but it was Whitefield’s way to love
people and to labour for them as if he had known them
a lifetime, never jealous of anyone, nor dreaming that
anyone could be jealous of him; and when he took his
leave on Ascension Day, ‘the sighs and tears,’ he says,
‘almost broke my heart. Many cried out with Ruth,
whither thou goest, I will go; where thou lodgest, I
will lodge.” But I only took one with me, who proved
a good servant, and is, I believe, a true follower of our
ever blessed Jesus.’


 The guest whom Stonehouse was sorry to part with,
Bristol was glad to receive; indeed the people there,
gratefully remembering Whitefield’s visit to them in
February, insisted upon his coming to see them again.
The account of their enthusiastic reception of him reads
more like an extract from the journal of a conquering
general, or from that of a prince on a progress through


his provinces, than that of a young clergyman, twenty-
two years old. Multitudes on foot and many in coaches
met him a mile outside the city gates; and as he passed
along the street in the midst of his friends, almost every
one saluted and blessed him. The general joy was deep-
ened, when, to his own regret, Mr. Oglethorpe sent him
word, that their departure for America would be delayed
two months longer. Bristol was completely under the
spell of its visitor, or rather of him and the doctrines he
preached. The rich forsook their comforts and pleasures,
to jostle and push among the crowd which five times
every week besieged the church where Whitefield was to
preach. The quiet Quaker left the unimpassioned talk
of his meeting-house to feel the thrill of oratory. The
uncompromising Nonconformist left his chapel for the
church, where he had too often failed to find the heart-
searching preaching which alone could satisfy his wants,
but where he was now pierced as with arrows, and healed
as with the ‘balm of Gilead.’ The idle worldling, who
seldom made an effort to be interested in anything, shook
off his supineness at least to go and hear what the stranger
had to say. The vicious and depraved strove for a place
where they might hear the love of God toward sinners,
the greatness and preciousness of the work of His Son
Jesus, and the mighty help of the Holy Ghost in the
hearts of all who would live a holy life, spoken of with
tenderness and an earnestness befitting themes so dear to
them in their abject condition. The broken-hearted
rejoiced in the sympathetic feeling of a teacher who
knew all their sorrow. The mixed mass of hearers filled
the pews, choked the aisles, swarmed into
every nook
and corner, hung upon the rails of the organ loft, climbed
upon the leads of the church. As many had to turn
away disappointed as had gained admission. And the
preacher’s words were more than a pleasant sound, much
enjoyed while it lasted, and soon forgotten when it ceased;


they struck into heart and conscience, turning the wicked
man from his wickedness, that he might save his soul
alive, and awakening the generous emotions of all.

Whitefield began with his congregations as he con-
tinued and ended with them. He made a practical, bene-
volent use of them; for he felt that our profession of
love to God is but a mockery, unless it be connected
with love to one another, and ‘love which is not in
word, but in deed and in truth.’ Nothing was further
from his mind than to seek only or chiefly the excite-
ment and flattery of preaching to large congregations;
and the same sense of devotion to the highest end of
life, which made him forget himself, and think only of
the glory of God, made him strive to teach the people a
benevolence as cheerful and a self-denial as thorough as
his own. He did not preach to please his hearers; and
they must not come to be pleased. They must come to
know their duty, as well as their privilege, in the gospel;
and so, twice or thrice every week, he appealed to them
on behalf of the prisoners in Newgate, and made collec-
tions. Howard had not yet begun his holy work in our
gaols; but the temporal and spiritual wants of prisoners
never failed to move the sympathy of Whitefield and
of all the early Methodists. The first band of Methodists
had a special fund for the prisoners in Oxford gaol, and
when Whitefield left the University he had the disposing
of it, and the chief charge of the prisoners. In London
and in Gloucester he was a regular visitor at Newgate;
and in Bristol he pursued the same charitable plan.[2]



The same comprehensive charity was displayed towards
the poor of Georgia, whose faces he had not yet seen.
During his stay at Bristol he paid a visit to Bath, where
his preaching produced as deep an impression as in the
sister city, and where some rich ladies gave him more
than a hundred and sixty pounds for the poor of his
future flock.

          If parting from the simple peasants of Stonehouse was
hard, it could not be easy to tear himself away from
Bristol, which offered him both ample means and affec-
tionate regard, if he would continue to minister in its
churches. Nor the money he cared nothing; for love he
cared everything. He was a foremost disciple in the
school of Him who has recently been called the ‘Author
of the Enthusiasm of Humanity.’1  But happily the ‘en-
thusiasm’ which he felt could not be confined to one
place, and dear as Bristol had made itself, it must be left.
June 21,’ he says, ‘I took my last farewell of Bristol.
But when I came to tell them it might be that they
would “see my face no more,55 high and low, young and

have planted a desire which Lad as yet Leen no man's care! Not yet had
Howard turned his thoughts to the prison, Romilly was but a boy of nine
years-old, and
Elizabeth Fry Lad not been born.’ True: but for thirty
years before dear Mr. Primrose was bom, the Methodists, with their bene-
volent leaders, Whitefield and the Wesleys, for ensamples, had cherished
tenderly and devoutly the ‘desire ’ which Mr. Forster says was ‘no man's
care.’ The honour of entering the gaol of the last century, which Mr.
Forster so justly says was ‘the gallows' portal ‘and ‘crime's high school,' is
due to one of the most obscure of the Oxford Methodists. Mr. Morgan, the
son of an Irish gentleman; and had not death carried him off in his youth, he
might have anticipated Howard's labours in their wide extent, as he cer-
tainly did in their Christian spirit.

       Prison philanthropy, however, can be traced further back than the day of
Oliver Goldsmith, or the rise of the Methodists. Sixty years before the
‘Holy Club’ was formed, a hundred before the ‘Vicar of Wakefield' was
published, an Oxford student, by name Joseph Alleine, an intimate friend
of John Wesley, the grandfather of the Methodist, used to visit the pri-
soners in Oxford county gaol. His last biographer, Charles Stanford, says
that he was ‘the first friend they were ever known to have had.’

1 Ecce Homo.


old, burst into such a flood of tears as I have never seen
before: drops fell from their eyes like rain, or rather
gushed out like water. Multitudes, after sermon, fol-
lowed me home weeping; and the next day I was em-
ployed from seven in the morning till midnight, in talking
and giving spiritual advice to awakened souls.

                ‘About three the next morning, having thrown myself
on the bed for an hour or two, I set out for Gloucester,
because I heard that a great company on horseback
and in coaches intended to see me out of town. Some,
finding themselves disappointed, followed me thither,
where I staid a few days, and preached to a very crowded
auditory. Then I went on to Oxford, where we had, as
it were, a general rendezvous of the Methodists; and,
finding their interests flourishing, and being impatient to
go abroad, I hastened away, after taking a most affec-
tionate leave’ (this was the third leave-taking of his friends
at Oxford, the second of his friends at Bristol and Glou-
cester), ‘and came to London about the end of August.’


          This popularity inevitably brought trouble. His doc-
trine was not approved of by all; and thus, under the
pressure of aspersions from enemies and entreaties from
friends, he was induced to publish his sermon on ‘Re-
generation.’ It contains a statement of the ordinary
evangelical views upon that subject, given in very or-
dinary language; but two sentences would be likely to
catch the eye of any one who might read the sermon
with a previous understanding of the preacher’s views.
Once he makes a side hit at metaphorical interpreters:

It will be well if they do not interpret themselves out
of their salvation.’ In another sentence he states a view
which he and his contemporary Methodist friends
their honour be it said
always carried into practice, as
well as urged in their preaching; he says, ‘The sum of
the matter is this: Christianity includes morality, as grace
does reason.’ Elsewhere he defines true religion in these


strikingly noble words—‘A universal morality founded
upon the love of God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.’
The only Methodism,’ he exclaims, ‘I desire to know
is a holy method of dying to ourselves, and of living to


          The prophets themselves, to whom, in ancient time,
was committed, among other exalted duties, the task of
guarding the morality of the Hebrew nation, of protesting
against every use of the ceremonial law and of the temple
service which would degrade religion into a superstition;
and the
apostles, who never failed to link the plainest
and humblest of duties with the loftiest doctrines they
taught, were not more jealous that religion and morality
should not be divorced from each other, than were White-
field and the Wesleys. The
ground of the moderns was
taken up
clearly and boldly by Whitefield in his sermon
just referred to, and throughout his whole life was never
for a moment forsaken. This is doubtless one main
reason why the great religious movement of the last cen-
tury has
deepened and widened to the present day, and
gives promise of continued
extension. The great strength
of it
lay, not in the advocacy of any peculiar doctrine,
but in the union of doctrine and precept, of privilege
and responsibility.
It was a true expression of the
apostle’s argument to the church at Romethe doctrine
of grace united with purity of life. ‘Shall we continue
in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall
we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ So
far from the movement’s resting alone or principally upon
a particular doctrine, Whitefield and Wesley were di-
vided upon doctrine, the one holding with Arminius, the
with Calvin; yet their work, even after the rupture
them, was not hindered or destroyed, but car-
forward with as much vigour, and as much to the
of mankind, as ever. Some would have morality
without religion, but
these men proclaimed everywhere,

that religion is the root of morality; that every man
needs the renewing power of the Spirit of God in his
heart; and that the ‘fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meek-
ness, temperance.’[3]


          Whether friends and enemies did Whitefield a service
by forcing him to publish, has been much questioned;
indeed, nearly every one has condemned the step. Frank-
lin thought that he did himself an abiding injustice,
because his power lay not in the pen, but in the tongue;
and that it would have been better for his reputation,
had he allowed only the reports of his genius and of his
triumphs to be kept as his memorial for succeeding
generations. As to the sermons, perhaps Franklin was
right; but Whitefield would have been no more than an
idle name, had we been left without some of his writings,
without his journal and some of his letters. I say some,
because a great number of his published letters never
could be of any service, excepting to the persons who
received them. But with Whitefield it was no consi-
deration what might be thought of his powers. During
his life he never gave a moment to recollect whether he
had any literary reputation or not; and least of all did
he hunger after posthumous fame. He published, in the
first instance, because he wanted to clear himself from
aspersions, and his friends wished to have his sermons;
and, in the second instance, because he found that his


sermons were often as useful when read, as when heard.
Many weeping eyes, in England, in Scotland, in America,
in the hut of the emigrant, in the cottage of the peasant,
in the hall of the nobleman, once eagerly searched for
consolation and hope, and found them, in those pages
which no one now cares to read, excepting curious
orators, who want to find out the secret of Whitefield’s
power, and sound evangelicals, who think that old
theology is the safest and best. The two old volumes
have a touching interest when their history is remem-
bered. They speak of broken-hearted penitents and of
rejoicing believers; and this, despite their feeble thought
and unpolished language, lends them an air of sanctity.
Their very feebleness becomes their wonder. As the
rod with which Moses divided the Red Sea, or the sling
from which David hurled the ‘smooth stone’ against
Goliath’s head, would be an object of interest, did we
possess it, its very inefficiency aiding us to the better esti-
mate of that power which made it so effectual, so these
sermons give us, by their tameness, a clearer conception of
the flaming zeal and yearning love that must have been
necessary to make them persuasive, convincing, con-
quering, and of that power of the Holy Ghost which
through them could move nations. It would be a pro-
found satisfaction to the humble spirit of their author to
know that men regard them as ‘weak things;’ for, re-
membering how they once prevailed over irreligion and
vice, and over cultivated, thoughtful minds, he would
simply say, ‘Then hath God chosen the weak things
the world to confound the mighty.’


          The sermons which had aroused Bristol and Bath were
next preached in London, whither Whitefield went about
the end of August. If his life in Bristol had been busy
and excited enough, what shall be said of the storm of
religious excitement that arose around him in the metro-

polis? His intention was to remain in perfect retirement,
and devote himself, until the time of his departure for
Georgia, to his much loved employment of reading and
praying over the word of God upon his knees; but his
soul had not long tasted the sweetness of this repose
when invitations to preach poured in amain. The
stewards and members of the religious societies (of
which I shall presently have occasion to speak more
particularly) were remarkably fond of hearing him; and
for a good reason—he attracted large congregations, and
got large collections. Friendly clergymen—only too soon
to forget their present admiration—wanted help in their
services, and sought it from this willing worker. The
largest churches could not hold the people; thousands
went away for want of room. Then the churchwardens
and managers of the charity schools, perceiving the effect
of his preaching, that is to say, its money-effect, thought
that they must have a share of the harvest, and began to
plead with him for the benefit of the children. For
three months the stream of people flowed steadily to-
wards any church in which he might be ministering;
and sometimes constables had to be placed, both inside
and outside the building, to preserve order. Nine times
a week did Whitefield engage in his delightful work of
preaching. On Sunday morning it was his habit to rise
very early, and during the day to walk many miles
between the various churches at which he was expected.
These early sacraments, which called him out before
daybreak,’were,’ he says, ‘exceeding awful. At Cripple-
gate, St. Anne’s, and Foster Lane, 0 how often have we
seen Jesus Christ crucified, and evidently set forth before
us! On Sunday mornings, long before day, you might
see streets filled with people going to church, with their
lanthorns in their hands, and hear them conversing about
the things of God.’ The ordinary congregations, too,
which were not composed of such persons as these devout

communicants, but of all kinds, heard the word ‘like
people hearing for eternity.’


          Such popularity quite disturbed the usual order of
things. On sacramental occasions fresh elements had
sometimes to be consecrated twice or thrice. The
stewards had larger offerings than they could con-
veniently carry to the table, their collection boxes or
bags not having been made for such an exceptional time.
A newsagent, who heard of what was doing in the
religious world, thought that he was as much entitled to
turn an honest penny as the stewards; and one Monday
morning, when Whitefield was quietly taking breakfast
with a friend at the Tower, his eye caught sight in the
newspaper of a paragraph to the effect, that there was a
young gentleman going volunteer to Georgia; that he
had preached at St. Swithin’s, and collected eight pounds,
instead of ten shillings—three pounds of which were in
halfpence (which was all quite true); and that he was to
preach next Wednesday before the societies at their
general quarterly meeting. The paragraph chagrined
Whitefield very much. He was not yet inured to the
annoyances of public life, and he requested the printer
not to put him in his paper again; but his only comfort
was the printer’s saucy answer, ‘that he was paid for
doing it, and that he would not lose two shillings for
anybody,’ and a full church—Bow Church it was—on
the following Wednesday.


          As popularity and usefulness increased, opposition in-
creased proportionably. The ground which it took was
extraordinary, it being actually urged that these crowds
which followed Whitefield interfered with the attendance
at church of regular parishioners; further, that the pews
were spoiled; next, that Whitefield was a spiritual pick-
pocket; and, finally, that he made use of a charm to get
the people’s money, which was perfectly true. And the
clergy—some of them, at least—who had listened and


admired, grew angry and spiteful. The charmer, it was
rumoured, would be silenced by the bishop upon the
complaint of the clergy; the pickpocket would be hin-
dered from plying his thievish arts.


          But Whitefield was not a man to tremble under a
threat, or grow pale at a rumour. He had a native
pugnacity, not yet humbled and subdued; and quickly did
he show his enemies that he could fight as well as preach
and pray, and that silencing him would be a difficult
thing. He at once waited upon the bishop, and asked
whether any complaint had been lodged against him;
the bishop answered that there was none. He asked his
lordship whether any objection could be made to his
doctrine; and the bishop replied, ‘No: for I know a
clergyman who has heard you preach a plain scriptural
sermon.’ Whitefield then asked his lordship whether he
would grant him a licence; and the answer was, ‘You
need none, since you are going to Georgia.’ ‘Then,’
said Whitefield, ‘you would not forbid me?’ The
bishop gave a satisfactory answer, and Whitefield took
his leave.


          But what the bishop chose not to do in his diocese,
individual clergymen, using their liberty to dispose of
their pulpits in their own way, chose to do in their own
churches; and two of them sent for him to tell him, that
they would not let him preach in their pulpits any more,
unless he renounced that part of the preface of his sermon
on regeneration, wherein he wished that his ‘brethren
would oftener entertain their auditories with discourses
upon the new birth.’ This he had no freedom to do,
and so they continued to oppose him.


          The obnoxious sentence, for whatever reason it may
have been removed, does not appear in the sermon as
printed after Whitefield’s death. It is probable that, as
his early inclination to a slight censoriousness gave place
to a wide charity towards the end of his fife, and his


favourite doctrine had gained considerable acceptance
and influence, he felt that his wish could no longer be
appropriately entertained, and that its continuance in his
sermon would be to preserve a needless record of an
early struggle.


          Whitefield had, in part, broken with his profession.
Some of them he had censured; and they had replied
by shutting their churches against him. Others attempted
to crush him by denouncing him for fraternising with
Dissenters; one clergyman called him ‘a pragmatical
rascal,’ and ‘vehemently inveighed against him and the
whole body of Dissenters together.’ His intimacy with
Dissenters, it is true, was great, and lasted throughout
the whole of his life. The grounds of it were honour-
able to both parties concerned. The piety and zeal of
the preacher drew the pious of other denominations to
hear him; and in their houses, to which they kindly
invited him, and he as kindly went, they assured him,

‘that if the doctrine of the new birth and justification by
faith were powerfully preached in the Church, there
would be but few Dissenters in England.’ Whitefield
found their conversation ‘savoury,’ and thinking that his
practice of visiting and associating with them was agree-
able to Scripture, he judged that ‘the best way to bring
them over was not by bigotry and railing, but modera-
tion and love, and undissembled holiness of life.’

True hearts get all the nearer when false ones show
their baseness. ‘A sweet knot of religious intimates,’
he calls them, gathered around him; and an hour every
evening was set apart by them for intercession for their
work and their friends. ‘I was their mouth unto God,’
he says; ‘and He only knows what enlargement I felt
that divine employ. Once we spent a whole night in
prayer and praise; and many a time at midnight, and at
one in the morning, after I have been wearied almost to
death in preaching, writing, and conversation, and going



from place to place, God imparted new life to my soul,
and the sweetness of this exercise made me compose my
sermon upon “Intercession.”’

          The end of these London labours came at Christmas,

1737.  Anxious to get to his Georgian charge, and an
opportunity offering by a transport ship, which was about
to sail with a number of soldiers, he determined at once
to start. His purpose wounded the hearts of thousands;
prayers were offered for him; the people would embrace
him in the church; wishful looks would follow him as he
went home. A solemn, weeping sacrament celebrated
the final parting.

          He left the charity schools one thousand pounds richer
by his labours, and he carried more than three hundred
pounds with him for the poor of Georgia. He ever,
from the first voyage to the thirteenth, crossed the
Atlantic, guarded by the prayers of thousands, and
freighted with their benevolent gifts.

          On December 28, Whitefield left London, and, on the
30th, went on board the ‘Whitaker,’ at Purfleet. His
labours now were divided between the ship and the shore,
the former containing the companions of his voyage, the
latter having the presence of friends, who followed him
from point to point, till he got out to sea, and who were
always ready to engage him in some religious duties.
Great kindness and prudence marked his conduct among
the men of the ship from the first day he went on board.
He attended them in sickness, taught them, and cate-
chised them. To the officers, both naval and military,
he showed marked deference, and allowed not his zeal to
carry him into any unwise attempts to force religion upon
their attention. Some brisk gales caught the ship in her
passage down the channel, which gave him opportunities
of showing kindness to the sea-sick soldiers and their
families, and of speaking weighty words concerning death
and the judgment to those who came to prayers. The



quietness of his first Sunday was a new experience to him.
and made him not only remember the days when he
led the joyful sacred throng,’ but write in his journal,
He is unworthy the name of a Christian who is not
as willing to hide himself when God commands, as to act
in a public capacity.’ Nor was he insensible to the
scenes which nature displayed before his eye; to the
calmness of the sea, which looked like Sabbath repose; to
the clear sky, bespangled with stars, or illumined by the
moon, which suggested thoughts of His majesty who
stretched the heavens abroad.’ His entire sincerity in
his work was beautifully exhibited in his new kind of
life. He was as attentive to teach a few soldiers or
few women the catechism, as he had been zealous for the
crowds of London. At night he would walk on the
deck that he might have an opportunity of speaking
quietly to some officers whom he wanted to gain over to
the service of God, or go down into the steerage where
the sailors were congregated, that he might be as one of
them. He soon became a favourite. The captain of the
ship gave him the free use of his cabin, the military
captain was friendly, and so were the rest of the officers.
At length, prayers were read daily in the great cabin;
and, at the request of the captain, Whitefield preached
the ‘gentlemen.’ Until they left Deal on January 30,
he also regularly preached on shore in a house; and the
congregations became so large that the preaching room
had to be propped up. It seems that ‘running’ and
buying ‘run goods’ was ‘a sin that did most easily beset
the Deal people’ of that day; and though Whitefield
care to show them ‘the absolute unlawfulness’ of their
deeds, yet they still waited on his word.


          The same morning that he sailed from Deal, John
Wesley arrived there from Georgia. On reaching shore
Wesley learned that his friend was in a vessel in the
offing, bound for Georgia. From some cause or other,


perhaps because he had miserably failed at Savannah,
and thought that no one else could do any good, Wesley
deemed it necessary to take some steps to know whether
Whitefield ought to continue his voyage. His method of
deciding the difficulty was by sortilege, a practice which
he long continued, but one which Whitefield never fol-
lowed.1 He even resorted to it in the dispute between
himself and Whitefield on the subjects of election and
free-grace. In a letter addressed to Wesley, in reply
to Wesley’s sermon on ‘free-grace,’ Whitefield said about
the Deal lot, ‘The morning I sailed from Deal for
Gibraltar you arrived from Georgia. Instead of giving
me an opportunity to converse with you, though the ship
was not far off the shore, you drew a lot, and imme-
diately set forwards to London. You left a letter behind
you, in which were words to this effect:—“When I saw
God, by the wind which was carrying you out brought
me in, I asked counsel of God. His answer you have
inclosed.” This was a piece of paper, in which were
written these words, “Let him return to London.”


          ‘When I received this, I was somewhat surprised.
Here was a good man telling me he had cast a lot, and
that God would have me return to London. On the other


1 The Moravians were much addicted to the use of sortilegium. In ‘an
extract of the constitution of the church of the Moravian Brethren at
Hemhuth, laid before the theological order of Wirtemberg in the year
1733,’ quoted by Wesley in his journal, it is said—‘They have a peculiar
esteem for lots, and accordingly use them both in public and private, to
decide points of importance when the reasons brought on each side appear
to be of equal weight. And they believe this to be then the only way of
wholly setting aside their own will, of acquitting themselves of all blame,
and clearly knowing what is the will of God.’ It is probable, as Southeyt
suggests, that Wesley took to the practice through the example of the
Moravians, of whom he had seen much during his voyage to Georgia and
stay there.

            Whitefield’s opinion was expressed in a public letter nearly three years
after his first departure for Georgia. ‘I am no friend,’ he says, ‘to casting
lots, but I believe, on extraordinary occasions, when things can be deter-
mined in no other way, God, if appealed to and waited on by prayer and
fasting, will answer by lot now as well as formerly.’


hand, I knew that my call was to Georgia, and that I
had taken leave of London, and could not justly go from
the soldiers who were committed to my charge. I betook
myself with a friend to prayer. That passage in the first
book of Kings, chapter xiii., was powerfully impressed
upon my soul, where we are told, “That the prophet was
slain by a lion, that was tempted to go back (contrary to
God’s express order) upon another prophet’s telling him
God would have him do so.” I wrote you word, that I
could not return to London. We sailed immediately.
Some months after I received a letter from you
Georgia, wherein you wrote words to this effect:
“Though God never before gave me a wrong lot, yet,
perhaps, He suffered me to have such a lot at that time,
to try what was in your heart.” I should never
published this private transaction to the world, did not
the glory of God call me to it.’


          It was well, for the sake of every one, and for the sake
of religion, that Whitefield was not so superstitious as
friend, and that he was not turned from a sober purpose
by a ridiculous chance. His return to London would
have demanded public explanation, and what could he
have said but this: ‘John Wesley drew a lot, on which
were these words—“Let him return to
Londonand so
I am here’? Then all the sensible part of his congrega-
tions would either have lost confidence in him, or have
become as foolish as himself; and enemies, who
rapidly multiplying, would have assailed him with irre-
sistible force. All his prayers, resolutions, tears,
ponderings would have been covered with shame and
confusion, and he could never have become a leader, since
men will follow only the decided and consistent. Wesley
himself, notwithstanding his blind faith in lots, would not
have been turned from his purpose by a dozen of them
drawn by a friend, had he been so far and so openly
committed as was Whitefield. One short answer would



have cut through the difficulty—‘My friend may draw
lots for himself, but not for me; at this rate, everybody
will be trying to divine my duty, and the contradictory
answers will leave me in hopeless embarrassment.’

          All went pleasantly with the ‘Whitaker’ and her pas-
sengers until the Bay of Biscay was reached. Whitefield’s
entry in his journal for Tuesday, February 14, gives a good
picture of the troubles and dangers to which he exposed
himself on many occasions by his American voyages. It
shows also the brotherly kindness which ever filled his
heart: —‘May I never forget,’ he says, ‘this day’s mercies,
since the Lord was pleased to deal so lovingly with me!
About twelve at night a fresh gale arose, which increased
so very much by four in the morning, that the waves
raged horribly indeed, and broke in like a great river on
many of the poor soldiers, who lay near the main hatch-
way. Friend H. and I knew nothing of it, but per-
ceived ourselves restless, and could not sleep at all; he
complained of a grievous headache. I arose and called
upon God for myself and those that sailed with me, absent
friends, and all mankind. After this I went on deck;
but surely a more noble, awful sight my eyes never yet
beheld; for the waves rose more than mountain high, and
sometimes came on the quarter-deck. I endeavoured all
the while to magnify God for thus making His power to
be known; and then, creeping on my knees (for I knew
not how to go otherwise), I followed my friend H.
between decks, and sung psalms, and comforted the poor
wet people. After this I read prayers in the great cabin;
but we were obliged to sit all the while. Then, thinking
I should be capable of doing nothing, I laid myself across
the chair, reading; but God was so good so to assist me
by His Spirit that, though things were tumbling, the ship
rocking, and persons falling down unable to stand, and
sick about me, yet I never was more cheerful in my life,
and was enabled, though in the midst of company, to


finish a sermon before I went to bed, which I had begun
a few days before! So greatly was God’s strength magni-
fied in my weakness! “Praise the Lord, 0 my soul,
all that is within me praise His holy Name.”’


          So few are the references, in Whitefield’s journal or
letters, to the manners of the people among whom he
stayed, or to the scenery through which he passed in
travels, that I am glad to extract any that he made, as a
proof that his was not a dull soul without delight in nature,
without sensitiveness to answer to the soft sweetness of
a southern sky, or awe to respond to the wildness and
majesty of a storm. It may be fairly doubted whether
he could have been the orator he was, had he lacked
these qualities; and the reason why such slight evidence
of their existence in him is to be found, was his attention
to his high duties as an ambassador for Christ. While
his earlier journals are brightened here and there with a
descriptive touch, his later and revised journal is almost
entirely without a reference to anything but his spiritual
work. The following account of his feelings as he ap-
proached Gibraltar is given in his first journal, but not in
his revised one:  ‘Saturday, February 18. Though the
weather was exceedingly pleasant all the day, yet it grew
more and more pleasant in the evening, and our ship sailed
at the rate of nine miles an hour, and as steady as though
we were sitting on shore. The night was exceeding clear,
and the moon and stars appeared in their greatest lustre;
so that, not having patience to stay below, I went upon
deck with friend H., and praised God for his wonderful
lovingkindness in singing psalms, and gave thanks for
the blessings, and asked pardon for the offences, of
week, and then had a long intercession.

                ‘It is worth coming from England to see what we have
beheld this day.

                ‘Sunday, February 19. Slept better to-night than I
have a long while; blessed be the Keeper of Israel!


Read prayers in the great cabin; was enlarged in ex-
pounding both the lessons to the soldiers; and had prayers,
and preached one of the sermons God enabled me to make
since I came on board, on open deck in the afternoon.
All the gentlemen attended; benches were laid for the
people; and the ship sailed smoothly, and the weather
was finer than I can express, so that I know not where
I have performed the service more comfortably. And,
indeed, I have been so delighted these two days with our
pleasant sailing and the promontories all around us, that
I could not avoid thanking God for calling me abroad,
and stirring up all to praise Him, “who by his strength
setteth fast the mountains, and is girded about with


          On February 20, the ‘Whitaker’ reached Gibraltar.
Whitefield received marked kindness from the governor,
General Sabine, a man of steadfast consistency, who,
during the time of his governorship, had never been
absent from public worship, except through sickness, and
who ‘was very moderate towards the Dissenters.’ He
gave Whitefield a general invitation to dine with him
every day. Kindness was also shown by one Major
Sinclair (a man whom Whitefield had never seen), ‘who
provided a convenient lodging at merchant B.’s, and de-
sired Whitefield to go on shore.’ That was on the fourth
day after arriving at Gibraltar; and it suggests that the
great preacher must still have carried the charm which
had so readily extracted money from the pockets of
Londoners. But, what was better than all temporal
comfort, the religious life of Gibraltar had in it much
that was pleasing and gratifying; there was devoutness
among a number of the soldiers; there was respect for
the convictions of people who were not members of the
Established Church of England; there was goodwill be-
tween two ministers of different denominations. Doubt-
less the second and third parts of the blessedness of the



place were strange things to excite the congratulations of
Christians, yet they were good grounds for praise, and
will continue to be so while they are so rare.


          Gibraltar, Whitefield thought, was ‘the world in epi-
tome;’ he might have added, the Church too; for Dis-
senters and Churchmen, ‘New Lights’ and ‘Dark
Lanthorns,’ Jews, and Roman Catholics were on the rock.
The ‘New Lights’ were an interesting company of soldiers,
gathered into a society by one Sergeant B., who for
twelve years had been their leader. Their meetings were
first held in ‘dens and mountains and caves of the rocks,’
but afterwards, on applying for leave to build a little
sanctuary of their own, the minister of the church and
the governor wisely and generously gave them the free
use of the church. This offer they gladly accepted; and
it was their custom to meet three times a day, to read,
and pray, and sing psalms. Their Nonconformity, in a
place where so much liberality on religious subjects and
religious practices obtained, seems strange; and most
likely it was based on the common ground of the Non-
conformity of those days
a desire for freer and more
social worship than the forms of the Church will admit.
Going early to church one morning to expound, White-
field was highly pleased to see several soldiers kneeling
in different parts of the building, engaged in private
devotion; as early as two o’clock in the morning some
would retire for that purpose.


          The ‘Dark Lanthorns’ were some ‘serious Christians
of the Scotch Church. Whitefield did not think it
agreeable’ to visit them; but sent them, as well as the
other society, ‘some proper books.’ He talked with
several of them privately, and urged a union between the
two societies.


          A few days sufficed to make Whitefield as popular
with the soldiers as he had been with the sailors, with
the townspeople as he was with the garrison. Officers



and soldiers crowded the church when he preached; and
at the governor’s table, where he had dreaded being
treated with more than sober hospitality, ‘all the officers
behaved in such a decent, innocent manner’ that they
pleased him very much. They were studious to oblige
him, and solicitous for him to stay; but his face was set
to go to Georgia. Many of the inhabitants pressed him
to stay with them, and for his sake treated the friends
who journeyed with him with marked kindness.


          None of this popularity was won at the expense of
fidelity. While all were crowding to hear him, he
eagerly embraced the opportunity of reproving them for
the sin of drunkenness, the curse of the place, and for
profane swearing. His presence and labours created so
much excitement that even the chief of the Jews came
to hear him on the latter subject. Not knowing this,
Whitefield next day attended the synagogue, and was
astonished when the presiding elder came to him, and
conducted him to a chief seat, as a mark of honour for
his having preached so well, according to Jewish ideas,
against the sin of profaning the Divine name. The Roman
Catholic Church was also visited; but everything there
was contrary to the simplicity which the plain Methodist


          The stay at Gibraltar lasted thirteen days, and on the
last day of it many came to Whitefield, weeping, to tell
him what God had done for their souls, to ask for his
prayers, and to promise him theirs in return. Others sent
him presents of cake, wine, figs, eggs, and other neces-
saries for his voyage. Two hundred soldiers, women,
officers, and others, stood on the beach to see him go on
board, and wish him ‘good luck in the name of the


          The results of his work he thus summed up: ‘Many
that were quite stark blind have received their sight;
many that had fallen back have repented, and turned


unto the Lord again; many that were ashamed to own
Christ openly have waxen bold; and many that were
saints have had their hearts filled with joy unspeakable
and full of glory.’


          Once more out at sea, he renewed his former efforts
for the good of the soldiers who sailed with him; public
services were zealously promoted, and personal visitation
added to them, as a means whereby the faith of each one
might be known.


          Mr. Habersham, a friend of Whitefield, who accom-
panied him, instructed the soldiers in the elements of
learning, and formed a school for the benefit of their


          Whitefield’s journal contains the following entry for
Thursday, March 16:—‘Preached this afternoon my ser-
mon against swearing, at which several of the soldiers
wept. Blessed be God that sin is much abated amongst
us; and I think a visible alteration may be perceived
through the whole ship. “Not unto me, not unto me, 0
Lord, but unto thy name, be the glory!”’ It was at the
close of one of those services, perhaps the one just
referred to, that Captain Mackay asked the soldiers to
stop, ‘whilst he informed them that, to his great shame,
he had been a notorious swearer himself; but, by the
instrumentality of that gentleman, pointing to Mr. White-
field, he had now left it off, and exhorted them, for
Christ’s sake, that they would go and do likewise.’ The
women began to remark, ‘What a change in our cap-
tain!’ and the soldiers as a body were almost reformed.
This entry is against March 18         ‘The weather being

very fair, and the sea calm, I went with Captain W. on
board the “Lightfoot,” dined with the gentlemen belong-
ing to the ship, and Colonel Cochran, who came on
to pay them a visit. Married a couple, and dispersed
bibles, testaments, and soldiers’ monitors, amongst the
men; exchanged some books for some cards; preached a




sermon against drunkenness, which I finished yesterday;
and returned in the evening, much pleased with seeing
the porpoises roll about the great deep.  “‘0 Lord, how
marvellous are thy works.”’ Monday, March 27, has a
mournful story: ‘Last night, God was pleased to take
away a black boy of Captain Whiting’s, after he had been
ill of a violent fever for some days. He was never bap-
tized;’—poor lad, he was black, and the colour of his skin
would account for his never having partaken of the benefits
of this rite of the Church;—‘but I had a commission from
his master, who seemed much affected at his death, to
instruct and baptize him, if it had pleased the Most High
that he should recover; but God saw fit to order it other-
wise. His holy will be done. About ten in the morning
he was wrapped up in a hammock, and thrown into the
sea. I could not read the office over him, being unbap-
tized; but Captain W. ordered the drum to beat, and I
exhorted all the soldiers and sailors “to remember their
Creator in the days of their youth,” and to prepare for
that time when “the sea should give up its dead, and all
nations be called together to appear before the Son of
God.” Oh that they may lay to heart what has been
said, and practically consider their latter end.’ While to
that prayer none can refuse an amen, it would not have
been strange had some of the men gone away to consider
what the black boy had done amiss, that he should be
buried like a beast.


          So the voyage was continued, the only diversity to the
kind of life just sketched being the presence of fever,
which carried off two of the worst men on board, and
struck Whitefield down for several days. To a friend he
writes—‘How goes time? I can scarce tell; for I have
been some time past, as one would think, launching into
eternity. God has been pleased to visit me with a vio-
lent fever, which He, notwithstanding, so sweetened by
divine consolations, that I was enabled to rejoice and sing
in the midst of it. Indeed, I had many violent conflicts
with the powers of darkness, who did all they could to
disturb and distract me; but Jesus Christ prayed for
me; and though I was once reduced to the last ex-

tremity, and all supernatural assistance seemed to be sus-
pended for awhile, and Satan, as it were, had dominion
over me, yet God suffered not my faith to fail; but came
in at length to my aid, rebuked the tempter, and from
that moment I grew better. Surely God is preparing me
for something extraordinary; for He has now sent me
such extraordinary conflicts and comforts as I never
before experienced. I was, as I thought, on the brink
of eternity. I had heaven within me; I thought of
nothing in this world; I earnestly desired to be dissolved
and go to Christ; but God was pleased to order it other-
wise, and I am resigned, though I can scarce be recon-
ciled to come back again into this vale of misery.  I
would write more, but my strength faileth me. We
hope to be at Savannah on Monday.’


          Whitefield’s farewell sermon to the soldiers was
preached on May 6, and caused much weeping. On the
evening of the following day he reached Savannah,
where he was welcomed by Mr. Delamotte, the friend
whom Wesley left behind him, and some other ‘pious
souls,’ who were rejoiced at his arrival, and joined him
in thanksgiving and prayer.






                            CHAPTER IV.



WhiteField, on his arrival at Savannah, knew nothing of
the circumstances under which his friend Wesley had left
it. The whole story was related to him, and he wisely
determined to act as if nothing of an unhappy kind had
occurred; he would not even make any record of it in
his journal. His original journal says, ‘Mr Charles
Wesley had chiefly acted as secretary to General Ogle-
thorpe, but he soon also went to England to engage more
labourers; and, not long after, his brother, Mr. John
Wesley, having met with unworthy treatment, both at
Frederica and Georgia ( Savannah?) soon followed. All
this I was apprised of, but think it most prudent not to
repeat grievances.’ In his revised journal he says, ‘I
find there are many divisions amongst the inhabitants;
glad shall I be to be an instrument of healing them.’ Pull
of loving anxiety to do his work well, and heartily believ-
ing that the gospel he preached could promote peace and
harmony, he never gave a thought to the unhappy past,
in which his friends had, though not without provocation,
received harsh treatment, but began early and zealously
to preach and teach. At five o’clock on the morning
after his arrival he read public prayers, and expounded
the second lesson to a congregation of seventeen adults
and twenty-five children. Such was the exchange for
crowded churches in England!


          In the afternoon of the same day, Mr. Causton, Wesley’s



keen enemy, sent word that he and the magistrates would
wait upon Whitefield, but Whitefield chose to wait upon
them, a courtesy which could hardly fail to prepare the
way for kindly intercourse. The interview was marked
by much ‘civility’ shown to the new chaplain; and the
principal part of the conversation was upon the place of
his settlement. The magistrates were as diplomatic as
civil; for it was resolved that the place should be
Frederica, where a house and tabernacle were to be
built for him—then they themselves would not run the
risk of any trouble with him—but that he ‘should serve
at Savannah, when, and as long as he pleased.’ Thus they
avoided raising a contention with him, by not arbitrarily
sending him away from the principal place. They had
evidently learned the secret of conceding for the sake
of getting; but, in the present case, their caution was


          The ship-fever had not quite left Whitefield, when,
with his usual promptness, he arranged the plan of his
work and made a beginning. His first week in Savannah
was spent in confinement, and, on the second Sunday, his
attempt to officiate broke down before he reached the
second service; but, on the following Tuesday, he was out
at his pastoral work, and made a call on Tomo Chichi,
the Indian king, who had refused to become a Christian,
on the ground that Christians were such bad wretches.
The poor emaciated man lay on his blanket, his faithful
wife fanning him with Indian feathers; and, as there was
no one who could speak English, the chaplain could do
no more than shake hands with him and leave. Four
days afterwards Whitefield made a second call on the
chief, and had some conversation with him through his
nephew, who knew English. He says, ‘I desired him to
inquire of his uncle, whether he thought he should die?
who answered, “He could not tell.” I then asked, where
he thought he should go after death? He replied, to



heaven. But, alas! how can a drunkard enter there?

I then exhorted Tooanoowee (who is a tall, proper youth)
not to get drunk, telling him he understood English, and
therefore would be punished the more if he did not
live better. I then asked him, whether he believed a
heaven? He answered, “Yes.” I then asked, whether
he believed a hell? and described it by pointing to the
fire; he replied, “No.” From whence we may easily
gather, how natural it is to all mankind to believe there
is a place of happiness, because they wish it may be so;
and, on the contrary, how averse they are to a place of
torment, because they wish it may not be so. But God
is true and just, and as surely as the righteous shall go
into everlasting happiness, so the impenitently wicked
shall go into everlasting punishment.’ The severity of
this kind of address to an untaught heathen is strange in
one who was so full of the spirit of love; and though he
may have thought, that only by terror could the dormant
conscience be aroused and the heart prepared for the
gentler message of the work of Jesus Christ for sinners,
one wonders why he did not say something about love as
well as wrath. There can be no doubt, however, that
he had no fitness, though much zeal, for preaching to the
Indians. Along with the Wesleys he had dreamed of
winning both natives and colonists to the faith of his
Lord, but he knew nothing of the language of the Indians,
and had no great aptitude for acquiring it.


          For oratory there was little scope in Georgia, where a
congregation of one or two hundred persons was the
largest that could be mustered; but there was ample
room for industry, for humility, for gentleness, and for
self-denial; and Whitefield, by his assiduous cultivation
of these graces, showed that he cared more for charity
than for the gift of speaking ‘with the tongues of men
and of angels.’ Oratory was nothing to him as an art:
it was supremely valuable as a talent to be used for his


Lord, an instrument by which hearts might be drawn to
the cross. When it could no longer be exercised, except
in a limited way, his zeal and ready tact immediately
adopted the only method by which truth and purity
could be diffused among the colonists. He went among
the villages, like a travelling missionary in a heathen
country; made himself the friend of every one in them,
men, women, and children, no matter what their nation
or their creed; praised their industry and success; re-
proved their faults; and invited them to trust in Him
who could save them from their sins. He was scrupu-
lously careful not to offend the religious or national
prejudices of any; and strove to draw all by ‘the cords
of love,’ because he rightly judged that obedience re-
sulting from that principle was the ‘most genuine and
lasting.’ It is easy to believe that a chaplain whose
heart was touched with the colonists’ every sorrow, who
entered into their difficulties, who came to cheer them at
their work, and sit as one of them in their huts, where
the children gathered round his knee and the workers
talked about the soil and the crops, was loved as a per-
sonal friend. As such they looked upon him. The love
which won Dummer, Bristol, London, and Gibraltar was
simply repeating its inevitable conquests. His dauntless
and brotherly spirit, which still retained a touch of the
asceticism of his Oxford days, made him resolve to
endure the worst hardships of colonial life. The weather
was intensely hot, sometimes burning him almost through
his shoes; and ‘seeing others do it who,’ he says, ‘were
as unable, I determined to inure myself to hardiness by
lying constantly on the ground; which, by use, I found
to be so far from being a hardship, that afterwards it
came so to lie on a bed.’ With this endurance he com-
bined the charming quality of gratitude for any
either to himself or his friends. This was particularly
displayed when the brother of his friend Habersham was


lost for some days in the woods, and the colonists
happily with
success—made every effort to recover him:
Whitefield went
from house to house to thank them, and
again at evening prayers, when a large congregation was
present, ‘I returned my dear hearers,’ he says, ‘hearty
thanks for the late instance of their sincere affection.’


          The settlers in the villages had but a hard lot. Their
children offered the best field for Whitefield’s efforts;
and he at once arranged to begin schools for them. ‘I
he says, ‘inquired into the state of their children,
and found there were many who might prove useful
members of the colony, if there was a proper place pro-
vided for their maintenance and education. Nothing can
effect this but an orphan-house, which might easily be
erected at, or near, Savannah, would some of those that
are rich in this world’s good contribute towards it. May
God, in His
due time, stir up the wills of His faithful
people, to be ready to distribute, and willing to com-
municate on this commendable occasion.’ The following
extract shows the need of the flock and the tender-hearted-
ness of the
shepherd: ‘Began to-day visiting from house
to house, and
found the people in appearance desirous of
being fed with the sincere milk of the word, and soli-
citous for my
continuance amongst them. Poor crea-
tures! My
heart ached for them, because I saw them
and their children
scattered abroad as sheep having no


          The first of these extracts points to the inference, that
the idea of an
orphan-house for the colony was White-
field’s own;
and many of his friends who helped him
gave him the credit of it; but he was frank in unde-
ceiving them, and in giving the praise to Charles Wesley
and the humane governor, General Oglethorpe. Before
he had thought of going
abroad, they had seen and felt
the necessity
of some provision being made for the
orphans, who must inevitably be thrown upon the colony


when their parents died and left them unprovided for.
A scheme somewhat like the one which was ultimately
adopted was devised, but, though the
Wesleys made its
practical accomplishment impossible,
yet the idea was
not abandoned.
Whitefield was entreated by his friend
Wesley to remember the orphans; and such a
was never made in vain upon him. He ‘resolved,
in the
strength of God, to prosecute the orphan-house
design w
ith all his might.’ The Trustees, acting no
at the suggestion of Oglethorpe, favoured him. In
accordance with the religious character which they
always given
to their colonisation scheme, they wrote to
the Bishop of Bath and Wells, asking leave for Whitefield
to preach in the abbey church, Bath, on behalf of the pro-
jected charity. The bishop consented, and Whitefield
with what success we have already seen. Now
occurred to him, that personal knowledge of the colony
would be
a better foundation on which to plead, than
the conclusions and wishes of others, even though they
were persons
as estimable and wise as Charles Wesley
and the governor.
His design was accordingly held in
abeyance until he could return to England; and the
more than three hundred poundswhich he
had collected, and which he carried to Savannah, was
devoted to general purposes among
the poor.


          When he reached his charge, he found that the con-
of the orphans was deplorable, all the kindness
of the Trustees notwithstanding. Some were quartered
here and there with such
families as had promised, for
a money consideration, to take them and rear them.
Others were engaged in service when they ought to have
at school, and were kept at work so long and so
hard, that educating
them in their present position was
The morals of all were corrupted by bad
; the learning of those who had learned any-
at all was forgotten. There was but one feasible



plan for curing the mischief: a home must be built, and
the children must be lodged, fed, clothed, and taught in
it. Meanwhile, until he could return to England, to
take priest’s orders, and procure a grant of land from the
Trustees, and beg money enough to build the home, and
give it a start, he wisely did what he could to ameliorate
the condition of them and of all other children, by
establishing schools in the villages.


          The moral influence of the orphan-house, the esta-
blishment of which was now his fixed purpose, was to
prove as great and as happy over Whitefield as over the
destitute children. He was to receive as much as he
gave. His love and zeal and self-denial, in founding
and maintaining it, were to return with usury of spiritual
good. It was to be a standing appeal to his tenderness
and test of his faith, a constant spur to his effort, and an
anchor to his excitable mind, which might have spent
itself upon trifles, because unable to cope with the states-
manlike work which the legislative mind of Wesley
gloried in mastering. It was to become the ballast of a
noble ship which had to carry high sail in dangerous
seas. So far as good to himself was concerned there was
no reason why he should have been sent to his ‘little
foreign cure,’ in which he was really happy, and where
(such was his humility and his carelessness about popu-
larity) he could have cheerfully remained, excepting to
undertake the charge of the orphans. With this excep-
tion, he did nothing in Georgia which he might not have
done elsewhere, and done better. But it is remarkable
to observe how the door of America was closed against
Wesley, whose talents were most serviceable when con-
centrated upon one place; while Whitefield received a
charge which supplied a constant motive to him to range
through every country where he could get a congrega-
tion to hear his message, and help his work. He was
meant for more than a parish priest; he was an evan-


gelist of nations, and the orphans supplied him with the
motive to visit every place.


          The journal of Whitefield on Wednesday, May 24, and
the journal of Wesley on the same day, present a striking
contrast as well between the condition of mind as the
work of these much attached friends. It was a quiet day
with Whitefield; and doubtless could Wesley have seen
him going among the people with a contented heart,
welcomed and honoured, he would have been both
surprised and gratified with his unexpected success. It
was a day of excitement, of anguish, and of joy with
Wesley, the day of his conversion; and could Whitefield
have known what was going on in Aldersgate Street, it
would have filled his mouth with joyful praise, though
he might have been surprised that not until a time so late
had his former religious teacher come to experience the
same spiritual change that had taken place in himself long
before. ‘Wednesday, May 24, went to day,’ Whitefield
says, ‘to Thunderbolt, a village about six miles off
Savannah, situated very pleasantly near the river, and
consisting of three families, four men and two women,
and ten servants. I was kindly received, expounded a
chapter, used a few collects, called on a family or two
that lay near our way, and returned home to Savannah
very comfortably in the evening. Blessed be God for
strengthening my weak body!’ Wesley says that his
spiritual condition at this time was characterised by
strange indifference, dulness, and coldness, and unusu-
ally frequent relapses into sin.’ In the evening I went
very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where
one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the
Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was
describing the change which God works in the heart
through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.
I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and
an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my


sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and

‘I began to pray with all my might for those who had
in a more especial manner despitefully used me and per-
secuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I
now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before
the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith, for where is
thy joy?” Then I was taught, that peace and victory
over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salva-
tion; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually
attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have
mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes with-
holdeth them according to the counsels of His own will.


                ‘After my return home I was much buffeted with
temptations, but cried out, and they fied away. They
returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes,
and He “sent me help from His holy place.” And herein
I found the difference between this and my former state
chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all
my might, under the law, as well as under grace. But
then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I
was always conqueror.’


          While Whitefield, by his unceasing labours, his un-
feigned humility, and his judicious conduct, was laying
the foundation of an enduring affection between the whole
colony and himself, he acknowledged himself to be largely
indebted to his predecessors. Delamotte was much be-
loved by the poor, to whom he was devoted; and his
return home was an occasion of grief to them. ‘The
good Mr. John Wesley has done in America, under God,
is inexpressible,’ says Whitefield.’ His name is very pre-
cious among the people; and he has laid such a founda-
tion among the people, that I hope neither men nor devils
will ever be able to shake. Surely I must labour most
heartily, since I come after such worthy predecessors.’


          The new chaplain was known as a man of strong con-



victions, which he would carry out at any personal risk.
When a notorious infidel died he refused to read the
burial service over him, because it would have been a
solemn mockery. He appealed to the people whether he
was not justified in his refusal, and they acquiesced in his
decision. Another of his parishioners was examined
to his views on the ‘eternity of hell torments,’ and White-
field, finding that he believed in the annihilation of the
wicked, not in their torment, and that he regarded it as
his duty to speak the convictions of his mind, admonished
him as an heretic, and told him that, for the future, he
could not partake of the Lord’s Supper. Staggered a
little by the announcement, the heretic maintained his
patience, and ventured to pronounce Whitefield un-
charitable; to which Whitefield replied, that they should
meet at the judgment-seat, and then it would be seen
upon what principles he acted. This incident must have
suggested his sermon on the subject discussed between
him and his parishioner; it was so satisfactory to the
people of Savannah that they asked him to publish it. I
am half-inclined to call this achievement—the moving
colony of men of irregular habits and very imperfect
morality, to ask for the publication of
a sermon on ‘the
eternity of hell torments ’—the greatest of his life. But,
as will appear when the sermon comes under our
again, they doubtless desired the words of love which
abound on every page, more than the words of terror,
which are scattered only here and there, in much the
same proportion as they are found in the teachings
our Lord. The preacher was not half so terrible as the


          It is pleasantest to see how he was welcomed in the
villages; how they of Savannah delighted in his visits,
even enduring his rebukes without murmuring; how at
Frederica nearly the whole of the inhabitants—a hundred
and twenty in number—came to hear him preach, and



the settlement was all activity to build a preaching-room,
to serve the place,
pro tempore, of a church; how the
sturdy Highlanders of Darien, settled under the pastoral
care of a worthy minister named McLeod, crowded the
house in which he preached to them at the end of a single
day’s visit; and how the Saltzburgers, who were settled,
after weary wanderings over land and sea, at a place
which their grateful hearts called Ebenezer, received him
with brotherly love, while he ‘joyed at beholding their
order.’ Their lands were the best cultivated in the colony,
and yielded the best crops. Their differences were re-
ferred not to any court, but to the judgment of their two
pastors, Boltzius and Gronau, whom they loved devotedly,
and to whom they looked up as fathers. Their orphan-
house, founded on the model of Professor Franck’s, of
Halle, was a model of the one he was purposing to build;
and when, at the close of his visit, the seventeen orphan
children—‘the little lambs,’ he calls them—came and
shook hands with him, his heart must have renewed its
vow of devotion to all who were in like distress.


          On Sunday, August 27, he preached his farewell sermon
to his people, who, sorrowing to lose him, were comforted
by his assurance that he would not delay his return to
them. On the following day the chief magistrate, Mr.
Causton, and the recorder, called to take their leave of
him. The general demonstrations of affection for him
overwhelmed him; and he took the first opportunity of
‘venting his heart by prayers and tears.’ ‘0 these part-
ings!’ he exclaims; ‘hasten, 0 Lord, that time when we
shall part no more!’


          The voyage was to prove one of the most dangerous
that he performed. When they had been a month at
sea, they were caught by a gale from the east, which
put all the sailors to their wits’ end.’ Sails were slit,
and tackling rent. The sea broke over the vessel with
such violence that not a dry spot was left anywhere; and


Whitefield, who slept in the most secure part, wrapped
in a buffalo’s hide, was drenched twice or thrice in one
night. His composure and faith in God made so deep an
impression on the crew, that they would say, ‘How should
we have been blaming and cursing one another, had not
Mr. Whitefield been amongst us!’


          The storm left the vessel sadly disabled, besides having
destroyed or washed away a large portion of the pro-
visions. There was the prospect of a tedious voyage and
much hardship, and so it turned out. Contrary winds
prevailed for a long time; at the end of October the pas-
sengers were allowed a quart of water a day. Their con-
stant food for a long time was salt beef and water
dumplings, which, says Whitefield, ‘did not agree with
the stomachs of all amongst us.’ To bodily trials were
added, in Whitefield’s case, ‘a variety of inward trials;’
but these were in due time followed by ‘great comfort.’
No doubt the inactivity of his life, together with the ex-
citement caused by danger, and the physical depression
consequent on short rations, had quite their share in pro-
ducing his ‘inward trials;’ although there is a solemn
reality in that sense of spiritual desolation, as if God had
forgotten the soul, or as if He had cast it away, of which
Whitefield, in common with all devout men, frequently


          With a humble, constant recognition of the working of
the Almighty in all things did Whitefield hold on to the
close of this distressing voyage. Three days before they
sighted land, most of those in the cabin had begun to be
weak, and to look hollow-eyed. He exclaims, ‘May we
patiently tarry God’s leisure! Amen! Amen! ’ On
November 11 they were reduced to an ounce or two of
salt beef, a pint of muddy water, and a cake made of
flour and skimmings of the pot, as the allowance for each
man. Cold weather had also set in, and, to add to their
distresses, they did not know where they were, there
being only a prevalent opinion that they were off the
coast of Ireland. That day was closed with the appro-
priate prayer, ‘May we now learn that man liveth not by

bread alone.’ And the next day, Sunday, November 12,
opened with the grateful ascription, ‘Blessed be the Lord
God of Israel, who this day hath visited a distressed
people!’ They had entered Carrickaholt Bay, in the
mouth of the Shannon, and were hospitably received and
succoured by Mr. Mac Mahon, whose house stood at the
head of the bay.


          Here Whitefield was kindly furnished with horses for
his journey to Dublin; and on his way he called to pay
his respects to Dr. Burscough, the bishop of Limerick,
who received him with ‘the utmost candour and civility.’
The day being Sunday, the traveller was sure to be made
the preacher; for nothing but absolute inability could
ever keep him out of the pulpit. Limerick cathedral
rung to his eloquence, and Irish hearts gave a quick and
deep response. But for his unquestionable truthfulness
in every detail of his life given by himself, and for the
universally-attested fact that his sermons generally pro-
duced intense excitement and awakened for himself such
a degree of personal affection as few men enjoy even
among their friends, it would be hard to believe that, on
the Monday, the inhabitants looked alarmed as they passed
along the streets, and followed him wishfully with their
eyes wherever he went; that one man compelled him to
enter his house, and accept his hospitality; and that the
bishop, when he took leave of him, kissed him, and said,
Mr. Whitefield, God bless you; I wish you success
abroad: had you stayed in town, this house should have
been your home yet such, he assures us, was the case.


          At Dublin he preached with the same success; and was
cordially received by Dr. Delany, dean of St. Patrick’s,
by Dr. Rundel, bishop of Derry, and by Dr. Boulter,
primate of all Ireland. He dined with the primate, and



at his table heard an expression fall from the lips of Dr.
Delany which he never forgot, and never failed to act
—‘I wish, whenever I go up into a pulpit,’ said
the Dean, ‘to look upon it as the last time I shall ever
preach, or the last time the people may hear.’


          On December 8 he reached London, accompanied by
some friends who had gone to meet him on his way.
Wesley was at Oxford; and, as soon as the news of White-
field’s arrival reached him, he hastened up to London, and
God gave us,’ he says, ‘once more to take sweet counsel


          At the close of such a year of travel and labour White-
field had some reasons for winding up his journal with
this emphatic verse:—


Give me thy strength, 0 God of power!

Then let winds blow, or thunders roar,

Thy faithful witness will I be,

’Tis fixed! I can do all through Thee!’




                                 CHAPTER V.

                         Dec. and Jan. 1738-39.




Nothing could have been more opportune for the welfare
of Methodism in England than the arrival of John Wesley
at Deal at the same time that Whitefield sailed for Georgia.
The newly-kindled fire had no time to burn low. Wesley
at once began his labours, and that with such power as
to bring upon him the anger and opposition which must
have come upon Whitefield, had he stayed any longer in
London. On Saturday, February 4,1737-8, one day after
his arrival in London, he preached at St. John the Evan-
gelist’s, and so offended many of the best of the parish,
that he was afterwards informed he was not to preach
there any more. Eight days afterwards he preached with
the same result at St. Andrew’s, Holborn; then in quick
succession the doors of St. Lawrence’s, St. Catherine
Cree’s, Great St. Helen’s; St. Ann’s, Aldersgate; St. John’s,
Wapping; St. Bennett’s, Paul’s Wharf; St. George’s,
Bloomsbury; and the chapel at Long Acre, were closed in
his face. More rejections might have followed, but early
in June he started with his friend Ingham to see the
brethren at Hernhuth, that they might together be re-
freshed by fellowship with enlightened and saintly men,
whom Wesley regarded with holy envy as possessors of
spiritual truth which he understood not. His mind seems to
have been in much the same condition as was Whitefield’s
in the early part of his Oxford life, yet none can think
that he was so far from the kingdom of God as he always



thought himself to be. The brethren of Hernhuth and
others whom he met in England
especially Peter Böhler
—said much to him about justification, and on his return
home he experienced that conversion of which I have
before spoken. Charles had already undergone it. Thus
did both Wesley’s great friends and helpers precede him
in the practical knowledge of facts and doctrines which
they all spent their lives in preaching.


          The close of this year saw the beginning of the united
work of all the three; and, for some time, their lives were
closely blended together. They preached in the same
rooms, prayed and spoke in the same meetings, and pre-
sided over the same private societies, which
were formed
for the nurture of the Christian life.


          The day after Whitefield’s arrival in London, he waited
on the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of
London, and was favourably received; but some of the
clergy denied him their pulpits
five in two days. He
also went to a meeting of the Methodist society, which
had been formed in Fetter Lane, and joined them in their
love-feast; an institution which Methodism still upholds,
and which consists in eating a little bread and drinking a
little water, singing and praying, and narrating personal
religious experience. There were at this time other
religious societies besides those which were springing out
of the labours of the Methodists, and to some of them he
had preached before he left for Georgia, getting them
welcome collections for the charitable work they under-
took. These societies, which were formed about 1675,
were the result of lectures given by Dr. Horneck and Mr.
Smithies to young men. Their original design was as
near the Methodist model of class-meetings as possible,
but circumstances modified them, at one time making
them detectors and exposers of Popery; and, at another,
reformers of the manners of the people, and prosecutors
of criminals. They helped to foil the Popish machina-



tions of James II., and to deliver the terrified inhabitants
of the Tower Hamlets from city thieves, who plundered
their houses, and abused their persons. Altogether they
could boast of having had to do with the closing of several
markets which had been kept open on the Sunday; with
the suppression of some hundreds of houses of ill-fame,
and the punishment of their frequenters; with the prose-
cution of two thousand persons of bad repute, and the
infliction upon them of whipping, fining, carting, &c.;
and with the conviction of notorious swearers and sabbath-
breakers. They crowded the bridewells with prisoners,
and do not seem to have thought of kinder methods of
reforming criminals. Better than all, they relieved the
sick, buried the poor, sheltered orphans, established
schools for the education of children, and sent them out
to trades. Their influence over the pulpits of the city
was great and useful, for they secured eminent clergymen
to preach upon questions vitally affecting the present con-
dition of the people, thus helping to form a healthy public
opinion and an earnest public spirit. Perhaps they were
somewhat too inquisitorial, and had too great a notion of
treating men as small children; yet they did good service
in their day; and although, in the time of Whitefield,
they had, as he says, declined much from their original
warmth of religious zeal and energy of action, they still
were the friends of charity, and to them Whitefield partly
owed some of his first popularity in the city.1


          It must have been to one of these societies that he
was preaching in Redcross Street, on Christmas Day, at
four o’clock in the morning, when he first used extem-
poraneous prayer. A laborious day must that Christmas
Day have been, with its first sermon at four, its second at
when the preacher felt a ‘little oppressed with
its sacramental service, and three more


1  ‘An Account of the Religious Societies in the City of London.’ By
J. Woodward, D.D., 1701.


sermons; and not an unworthy anniversary of a man’s
baptism. Besides, Whitefield had preached twice on
Christmas Eve, and expounded to two societies—one
them the society at Fetter Laneand then continued with
many other brethren in prayer, singing, and thanksgiving,
until nearly four o’clock in the morning. No wonder he
felt a ‘little oppressed with drowsiness!’ That society
at Fetter Lane was at present the heart of the Methodist
movement, its central fire. The engagements of Christ-
mas Eve, 1738, were only an example of the prolonged,
fervent, and, one would have thought, exhausting, but,
Whitefield says, refreshing and invigorating, devotions
which the brethren engaged in there.


          Sympathy of thought and feeling drew the band of
men close together, and their souls glowed with
a passion
of religious zeal which must, sooner or later, break forth
upon the land for good or evil, or both, while the opposi-
tion from without only fanned the flame. It was a hope-
ful and a dangerous time. Firstfruits of the coming
movement abounded in the meeting—first ‘watch-night
meeting’ (?)—in which the leaders and a company of sixty
brethren celebrated the departure of the old year and the
coming of the new. ‘About three in the morning,’
Wesley says, ‘as we were continuing instant in prayer,
the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that
many cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to the
ground. As soon as we were recovered a little from that
awe and amazement at the presence of His Majesty, we
broke out with one voice, “We praise Thee, 0 God; we
acknowledge Thee to be the Lord! ”’ Five nights after-
wards, eight ‘ministers of Jesus Christ, despised Method-
ists, whom God in his providence brought together,’
Islington to confer upon several things of importance,
continued in fasting and prayer until three o’clock,
they parted with ‘the conviction that God was
about to do great things.’ The whole of the second



night after that Whitefield spent at Fetter Lane in the
same devout engagements, and the next day was got
through with one hour’s sleep. ‘There was a great deal
of divine influence amongst us,’ he says.


          Amid these numerous engagements, the object of his
return to England, to receive ordination as a priest, was
not lost sight of. At the end of December he writes to a
friend at Gloucester:  ‘I am appointed by the Trustees to
be minister of Savannah. The Bishop of London (Dr.
Gibson) accepts the title, and has given me letters dimis-
sory to any other bishop. I have waited also on Dr.
Seeker, bishop of Oxford, who acquaints me that our
worthy diocesan, good Bishop Benson, ordains for him to-
morrow fortnight at Oxford, and that he will give me
letters dimissory to him. God be praised! I was praying
day and night, whilst on shipboard, if it might be the
Divine will that good Bishop Benson, who laid hands on
me as a deacon, might now make me a priest. And now
my prayer is answered. Be pleased to wait on his
lordship, and desire him to inform you, when I must be
at Oxford in order to receive imposition of hands. Oh,
pray that I may be duly prepared.’ With the fire of the
Fetter Lane meetings burning in his soul, he returned to
Oxford; and on January 14, 1739, had the hands of
good Bishop Benson’ laid on him.1 To make proof of
his ministry he that day preached and administered the
sacrament at the Castle, preached again in the afternoon
at St. Alban’s to a crowded congregation, the church


1 Bishop Benson sent Lord Huntingdon, but evidently for the benefit of
Lady Huntingdon, an account of the ordination, and added
‘I hope this
will give some satisfaction to my lady, and that she will not have occasion
to find fault with your lordship’s old tutor. Though mistaken on some
points, I think him (Mr. Whitefield) a very pious, well-meaning young
man, with good abilities and great zeal. I find his Grace of Canterbury
thinks highly of him. I pray God grant him great success in all his under-
takings for the good of mankind, and a revival of true religion and holiness
among us in these degenerate days; in which prayer I am sure your lordship
and my kind good Lady Huntingdon will most heartily join.’


being surrounded with gownsmen, who stood as attentive
bearers at the windows, then joined in thanksgiving for
all his mercies, read prayers at Carfax, expounded to a
devout company at a private house, and spent the rest
of the evening with thirteen more friends, doubtless in
religious engagements.


          On his return to London, the day after his ordination,
he resumed the kind of life which has been described,
—preaching, praying, expounding, and collecting money
for his poor flock in Georgia. The only diversity was
opposition to his doctrine of the new birth, to his and
his brethren’s use of extempore prayer, and to their
using the private societies for religious purposes. These
last, it was alleged, were offences against the canons and
the act of Charles II. Whitefield replied that his meet-
ings were for private worship, not public, and had no
hostile intent against the Church. Another noticeable
incident was his visit to Dr. Watts, now an old man, who
received him ‘most cordially.’ But the most important
fact of the month was the thought of preaching in the
open air, which was suggested to him by a crowd of a
thousand people having been unable to gain admission
to Bermondsey Church, where he preached one Sunday
afternoon. It met with no encouragement when he
mentioned it to some of his friends; they thought it was a
mad motion.’ However, it would have been carried
out the next Sunday at Ironmongers’ Almshouses, had
not the preacher been disappointed in his congregation,
which was small enough to hear him from the pulpit.
He took two sermons with him, one for within and the
other for without. What were his impressions about
this untoward circumstance he nowhere says; most pro-
bably he had humble and self-reproachful thoughts for
having run before there seemed to be need.


          Such intense and long continued work as he rushed into
upon his return home could not fail to tell upon him, and



his entry in his journal on February 6 is such as one
expects to see: ‘Went to St. Helen’s, where, all on a
sudden, I was taken so ill in body, and was so deserted
in soul, that I would have given anything for my written
notes; yet God gave me to trust in Him for strength and
assistance, and before
I had done I was warm in heart,
and strong enough in body to continue to offer Jesus
Christ freely for a considerable time to all that would lay
hold on Him by faith.’ At this time we hear the sound
of those peculiar Amens, which have distinguished the
children of Methodism down to this late day. ‘Many
seemed to feel what was spoken, and said hearty and
loud amens to my sentences.’ The next day another
keen attack struck him at Windsor. We shall see this
weakness showing itself all through his life to the last:
and if we keep in memory its existence, and not allow
ourselves to think, as we follow him day and night
through his ceaseless toils, that we are with a man who
has no infirmities
who, as it has been expressed,1  ‘was
gifted with an incapacity of fatiguing or of being fatigued’
we shall form a juster estimate of the heavenly fervour
which triumphed first over his own frailness, and then
over every outside difficulty. He was often fatigued
beyond endurance; but the sight of his congregation,
the delight he had in his work, and the strength which
comes from above, quickened him to speak with freedom
and power. ‘Freedom and power’
these were the two
in his preaching which he prized before all
If anything was present to gladden him these
were his joy
; if anything was absent and depressed him,
these were the missing treasure. But not often was
he without them; not often could he fear to appropriate
the humble boast of
St. Paul—‘Our gospel came not
unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the
Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.’


1 ‘Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography.’ By Sir J. Stephen.


A short tour in the provinces gave him his first taste
of direct hostility, the mob and the Church being of one
mind in openly opposing him. It also gave him his first
taste of the sweets of field preaching. There was truth
in half of the exclamation which a not too devout ob-
server uttered when Whitefield started from London:
I believe the devil in hell is in you all’— that was the
untrue half;—‘Whitefield has set the town on fire, and
now he is gone to kindle a flame in the country’—that
was the true half. There was alarm among the powers
of the Church in the cities of Bath and Bristol before his
arrival there; and his application to preach in the Abbey
church at Bath on behalf of the orphan-house was met
with a positive refusal, although the bishop had given
the Trustees of Georgia a promise, before Whitefield
sailed for Georgia, that such a service might be held.
The refusal came not, however, from the bishop. Similar
treatment at Bristol, to which he at once withdrew, led
to results so important, that we must devote another
chapter to them.






                                CHAPTER VI.

                        February to April, 1739.




‘Near the city of Bristol is a tract of country called
Kingswood. Formerly, as its name implies, it had been a
royal chase, containing between three and four thousand
acres; but it had been gradually appropriated by the
several lords whose estates lay round about its borders;
and their title, which for a long time was no better than
what possession gave them, had been legalised. The deer
had long since disappeared, and the greater part of the
wood also; and coal mines having been discovered there,
from which Bristol derives its chief supply of fuel, it was
now inhabited by a race of people as lawless as the forest-
ers their forefathers, but far more brutal, and differing as
much from the people of the surrounding country in dia-
lect as in appearance. They had at that time no place of
worship, for Kingswood then belonged to the out-parish
of St. Philip and Jacob; and if the colliers had been dis-
posed to come from a distance of three or four miles,
they would have found no room in the parish church of
a populous suburb. When, upon his last visit to Bristol,
before his embarkation, Whitefield spoke of converting
the savages, many of his friends said to him, “What need
of going abroad for this?  Have we not Indians enough
at home? If you have a mind to convert Indians, there
are colliers enough in Kingswood.”’


1 Southey’s, ‘Life of Wesley,’ ch. vi.




And the colliers were still Indians when Whitefield
revisited Bristol, the pious friends having, as is usual with
those who dissuade from mission work, done nothing
themselves to produce a change. Heathenism was at
their doors, and they left it alone in its sin and misery,
till the young clergyman should return from the Georgian
Creeks and grapple with it; and even he might have
failed in this gracious task had not opposition confronted
him. When clergymen were cold, and the chancellor of
the diocese captious, and churches scarce, Whitefield had
time and inducements to carry out those loving wishes
towards the colliers, which had stirred his heart for a
long time; nor was the desire to attempt open-air preach-
ing without its weight on the same side.


          Understanding that the minister of St. Mary Redcliffe
was willing to lend his church for sermons to be preached
on behalf of the orphan-house, Whitefield applied first of
all to him, and the answer was a civil refusal; the church
could not be lent without a special order from the chan-
cellor. To the chancellor Whitefield went. The reply
from him was, ‘that he would not give any positive
leave, neither would he prohibit any one that should
lend Whitefield a church; but he would advise him to
withdraw to some other place till he had heard from the
bishop, and not preach on that or any other occasion
soon.’ Whitefield asked him his reasons. He answered,
Why will you press so hard upon me? The thing has
given a general dislike.’ Whitefield replied, ‘Hot the
design of the orphan-house. Even those that disagree
with me in other particulars approve of that. And as
for the gospel, when was it preached without dislike?

The dean, when called upon soon after the interview
with the chancellor, gave the same ambiguous replies
with the same plain meaning: ‘Mr. Whitefield,
we would
rather not say yea or nay to you; but we mean nay, and
greatly wish that you would understand us so.’


          The societies were still open, so was Newgate, and
then there were the colliers. These last were visited
on a Saturday afternoon for the first time. Whitefield
took his stand on Hannan Mount, and spoke upon Matt,
v. 1, 2, and 3, to as many as came to hear; upwards
of two hundred attended. He does not say what were
his feelings in his novel situation, nor what were the im-
pressions upon his audience. His only remark in his
journal is, ‘Blessed be God that the ice is now broke,
and I have now taken the field! Some may censure me.
But is there not a cause? Pulpits are denied, and the
poor colliers ready to perish for lack of knowledge.’ As
this act was taken on the day after his interviews with
the chancellor and the dean, he had lost no time in
breaking the ice. Now he was the owner of a pulpit
that no man could take from him, and his heart rejoiced
in this great gift. But all in Bristol was not so dark on
Sunday morning as it had been on Friday night and
Saturday. Three pulpits were placed at his disposal,
and from two of them he preached, one being that of
St. Mary Redcliffe: there he had such a congregation as
his eyes had never yet seen, and he preached with
‘liberty.’ But the most enjoyable part of the day was
its close, which was spent with two of the societies.
Monday opened the parish church of St. Philip and Jacob,
and gave him a noble congregation, and a collection of
eighteen pounds for his orphan-house.


          Perhaps these quick, decisive movements put the chan-
cellor on his mettle; for, on the Monday, a summons
came from the apparitor commanding Whitefield’s ap-
pearance before the chancellor. With this document in
his pocket, Whitefield spent a joyful night among his
friends in Baldwin Street; and on Tuesday morning, at
ten o’clock, he waited upon the chancellor, who plainly
told him that he intended to stop his proceedings. ‘I
have sent for the register here, sir,’ said he, ‘to take



down your answer.’ The first question was, by what
authority Whitefield preached in the diocese of Bristol
without a licence. Whitefield replied, that he thought
that custom was grown obsolete. And then becoming
questioner in turn, he asked the chancellor, ‘And why,
pray sir, did not you ask the clergyman this question
who preached for you last Thursday?’ He said that was
nothing to Whitefield. He then read over part of the
ordination office, and those canons that forbid any minis-
ter’s preaching in a private house, &c.; and asked what
Whitefield had to say to them. He answered, that he
apprehended that those canons did not belong to pro-
fessed ministers of the Church of England. The chan-
cellor replied that they did. Again Whitefield resorted
to the
ad hominem method: ‘There is also a canon, said
I, sir, forbidding all clergymen to frequent taverns and
play at cards; why is not that put in execution?’  Said
the chancellor—‘Why does not some one complain of
them, and then it would?’ That is the old church
scandal; doctrine and form are put before common
morality; for not seldom has it been safer to break all
the laws of God, while swearing to articles, or pronoun-
cing party words, than to be undecided about an article,
or unable to shape the words, yet loving to do the will
of God. The chancellor next accused Whitefield of false
doctrine, whereupon he received a proper answer:  ‘I
cannot but speak the things I know ; and I am resolved
to proceed as usual.’ ‘Observe his answer, then, Mr.
Register,’ said he. Then, turning to Whitefield, he
added, ‘I am resolved, sir, if you preach or expound any-
where in this diocese, till you have a licence, I will first
suspend, and then excommunicate you. And what I
do is
in the name of the clergy and laity of the city of Bristol.’
How much truth there was in the whole statement ap-
peared on the afternoon of the day that it was made. The
laity of Bristol, who were said to want the silencing of



Whitefield, congregated in thousands around St. Nicholas'
Church, hoping to hear him preach; but the lecturer
sent word that orders were given by the clergyman that
he should not preach in his church. The societies re-
mained open, and the laity crowded their meetings that


          The second interview with the chancellor was followed
by the same action as the first, and with more encoura-
ging results. On the following day the journal relates,
‘All the church doors being now shut, and if open not
able to contain half that came to hear, at three in the
afternoon I went to Kingswood among the colliers. God
highly favoured us in sending us a fine day, and near two
thousand people were assembled on that occasion. I
preached and enlarged on John iii. 3 for near an hour,
and, I hope, to the comfort and edification of those that
heard me.’ Two days afterwards he stood upon the
same spot, and preached to a congregation of four or five
thousand with great freedom. The bright sun overhead
and the immense throng standing around him in awful
silence formed a picture which filled him with ‘holy ad-


          He kept up this double conflict with ecclesiastics and
with the devil with surprising ease. From a sermon to
Kingswood heathen, or an exposition to Newgate prison-
ers, to an interview with the chancellor, or a letter to the
bishop, he could turn himself without discomfort; and
the two kinds of engagements come up in his journal
with an amusing regularity of sequence. In the follow-
ing letter he told his case to the bishop:

                                                           ‘ Bristol, Feb. 24, 1739.

My Lord,—I humbly thank your lordship for the favour of
your lordship’s letter. It gave abundant satisfaction to me
and many others, who have not failed to pray in a particular
manner for your lordship’s temporal and eternal welfare. To-
day I showed your lordship’s letter to the chancellor, who

(notwithstanding he promised not to prohibit my preaching for
the orphan-house, if your lordship was only neuter in the
affair) has influenced most of the clergy to deny me their
pulpits, either on that or any other occasion. Last week he
was pleased to charge me with false doctrine. Today he has
forgot that he said so. He also threatened to excommunicate
me for preaching in your lordship’s diocese. I offered to take
a licence, but was denied. If your lordship should ask what
evil I have done? I answer none, save that I visit the religious
societies, preach to the prisoners in Newgate, and to the poor
colliers in Kingswood, who, they tell me, are little better than
heathens. I am charged with being a Dissenter, though many are
brought to the Church by my preaching, not one taken from it.
Indeed, the chancellor is pleased to tell me my conduct is con-
trary to canons; but I told him those canons which he produced
were not intended against such meetings as mine are, where
his majesty is constantly prayed for, and every one is free to
see what is done. I am sorry to give your lordship this trouble,
but I thought proper to mention these particulars, that I might
know of your lordship wherein my conduct is exceptionable.
I heartily thank your lordship for your intended benefaction.
I think the design is truly good, and will meet with success,
because so much opposed. God knows my heart, I desire only
to promote His glory. If I am spoken evil of for His sake, I
rejoice in it. My Master was long since spoken evil of before
me. But I intrude on your lordship’s patience. I am, with
all possible thanks, my lord,


Your lordship’s dutiful son and servant,

                                                    ‘ George Whitefield.’

To the chancellor he wrote as follows:—

Reverend Sir,—The enclosed is a letter I sent on Saturday
to the Bishop of Bristol; be pleased to peruse, and see if any-
thing contrary to truth is there related by,


          ‘Reverend sir, your very humble servant,

                                                                  ‘George Whitefield.’

‘Bristol, Feb. 26, 1738/9.’

          Of course the intervening day, Sunday, was devoted
to preaching. Bussleton, a village two miles from Bristol,


opened its church to him, and a numerous congregation
coming together, he first read prayers in the church and
then preached in the churchyard. At four he hastened to
Kingswood. Though the month was February the weather
was unusually open and mild; the setting sun shone with
his fullest power; the trees and hedges were crowded
with hearers who wanted to see the preacher as well as
hear him. For an hour he spoke with a voice loud
enough to be heard by every one, and his heart was not
without joy in his own message. Calling to mind the
observation made on his setting out for the country, he

wrote in his journal:  ‘Blessed be God, Mr. ---- spoke

right. The fire is kindled in the country ; may the gates
of hell never be able to prevail against it!’ The day was
closed by visits to two societies. At nine he came home
rejoicing to find how all things turn out for the further-
ance of the gospel. He began his day’s work at six in
the morning, and so weary as to think he could do no-
thing: fifteen hours’ work out of a weary body! What a
tale does that one Sunday tell of the triumph of the spirit
over the flesh!


          It is important to know what were his feelings when
he met these immense field congregations, whose numbers
had grown from two hundred to twenty thousand, and
what were the effects of his preaching upon his audience.
His own words are, ‘Having no righteousness of their
own to renounce, they were glad to hear of a Jesus who
was a friend to publicans, and came not to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance. The first dis-
covery of their being affected was, to see the white
gutters made by their tears, which plentifully fell down
their black cheeks, as they came out of their coal pits.
Hundreds and hundreds of them were soon brought
under deep convictions, which (as the event proved)
happily ended in a sound and thorough conversion. The
change was visible to all, though numbers chose to im-



pute it to anything rather than the finger of God. As
the scene was quite new, and I had just begun to be an
extempore preacher, it often occasioned many inward
conflicts. Sometimes, when twenty thousand people were
before me, I had not, in my own apprehension, a word
to say, either to God or them. But I was never totally
deserted, and was frequently (for to deny it would be
lying against God) so assisted, that I knew by happy
experience, what our Lord meant by saying, “Out of his
belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The open firma-
ment above me, the prospect of the adjacent fields, with
the sight of thousands and thousands, some in coaches,
some on horseback, and some in the trees, and, at times,
all affected and drenched in tears together, to which
sometimes was added the solemnity of the approaching
evening, was almost too much for, and quite overcame,


          The overpowering emotion of which he speaks, and the
tears which made white gutters on the begrimed faces of
the colliers, were the answer to his own passionate feelings.
Seldom did he preach without drenching his audience in
tears, and the effect was due quite as much to his unre-
strained manifestation of strong feeling as to his words.
Especially must this characteristic have struck the hearts
of rough men, who, after having been long uncared for,
at last saw a clergyman willing to endure fatigue and
shame for the sake of preaching to them. He spoke as
having nothing to keep back from them, as having no-
thing to be ashamed of, least of all of those tender yearn-
ings of divine compassion which had constrained him
come to them, and instead of assuming a placid com-
posure which he did not feel he let his whole manner
express what was in him. I hardly ever knew him go
a sermon without weeping more or less,’ said his
Cornelius Winter, ‘and I truly believe his were
tears of sincerity. His voice was often interrupted



by his affection; and I have heard him say in the pulpit,
“You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it,
when you will not weep for yourselves, though your
immortal souls are upon the verge of destruction, and, for
aught you know, you are hearing your last sermon, and
may never more have an opportunity to have Christ
offered to you.” His freedom in the use of his passions
often put my pride to the trial. I could hardly bear
such unreserved use of tears, and the scope he gave to
his feelings, for sometimes he exceedingly wept, stamped
loudly and passionately, and was frequently so overcome,
that, for a few seconds, you would suspect he never
could recover; and when he did, nature required some
little time to compose herself.’


          The visit to Bristol was interrupted for a few days to
make an excursion into Wales; but, although this was the
first appearance of a famous, avowed Methodist among
the Welsh, Methodism was already among them, both in
mode and spirit. Clergymen had gone beyond parish
boundaries, preaching to large congregations in churches,
in churchyards, and in fields; religious societies, founded
upon the rules which Hr. Woodward had laid down for
the societies in London, were scattered here and there to
the number of thirty; the great doctrines and holy com-
mandments of the Gospel were taught with power which
fell little, if at all, below that which marked the minis-
trations of Whitefield. The two prime movers in the
work were Griffith Jones and Howel Harris.


          Griffith Jones, rector of Llanddowror, Caermarthenshire,
was a man of ardent' piety and noble courage, and the
greatest preacher in the principality in his day. His
fame extended far beyond the limits of his own cure; and
congregations not favoured with so popular and useful a
ministry as was his, would send him pressing invitations
to come and preach to them. Nor, in spite of constitu-
tional weakness, was he unwilling to accept the calls. He


so arranged his tours as to take several places at the
same time, and generally in Easter or Whitsun-week,
when he knew that wakes, fairs, and other riotous gather-
ings of the people would be doing their destructive
work. In this irregular work he preceded all the English
Methodists; and it is not unlikely that Whitefield had his
example in his mind when he stood up at Kingswood and
in Moorfields. But there was not always unanimity be-
tween the parishioners and their clergy about these invi-
tations and visits. Idle and irreligious clergymen did not
like to be placed in contrast with the diligent rector; and
so, after the churchwarden had announced the coming
visitor, the incumbent would often make sure of the
church-key, and compel both his people and their
favourite preacher to take their stand in the open air.
The next act of brotherly charity was to lodge an accu-
sation in the Ecclesiastical Court, and torment the rector
with law. He had twenty years of litigation.


          But Griffith Jones’s ‘Welsh Circulating Schools’ eclipsed
his labours
as a preacher. He conceived the idea of set-
tling a schoolmaster in a locality where the people had
to be taughtof his continuing there until all
wished for instruction had received it, and then of
his passing on to the next place where he was wanted.
The instruction was not, of course, very elaborate: it con-
sisted in reading the Bible in the Welsh tongue, in psalmody,
and in knowing the catechism. Its object was eminently
religious. Jones wanted the people to be able to follow
intelligently in the service of the Church, and to help
themselves when he was not with them. As helpers in
work he was obliged, on account of the bad state of
Established Church, to fall back upon Nonconformists,
supplied him with most of his teachers. These he
trained in a seminary at Llanddowror. Staunch church-
as he was, he had to turn from his own communion,
unwillingly seek the co-operation of men whose eccle-



siastical views were disagreeable to him. His benevolence,
his zeal, his foresight, and his charity were amply justi-
fied and rewarded by the results of his work. Within
years of the establishment of the schools, or two years
after Whitefield paid his first visit to Wales, there were
one hundred and twenty-eight schools, and seven thou-
sand five hundred and ninety-five persons instructed in
them. Twenty years later, ten thousand persons were
taught to read in one year.1


          The testimony of this true churchman and devoted
Christian as to the religious condition of his country may
be taken as of some account. He says: ‘I must also do
justice to the Dissenters in Wales, and will appeal for the
truth of it to all competent judges, and to all those them-
selves who separate from us (except only such who have
hardly any more charity for those they differ from than
the Church of Rome), that it was not any scruple of con-
science about the principles or orders of the Established
Church that gave occasion to scarce one in ten of the
Dissenters in this country to separate from us at first,
whatever objections they may afterwards imbibe against
conforming.  No, sir; they generally dissent at first for no
other reason than for want of plain, practical, pressing,
and zealous preaching, in a language and dialect they
are able to understand; and freedom of friendly access to
advise about their spiritual state. When they come (some
way or other) to be pricked in their hearts for their sins,
and find perhaps no seriousness in those about them, none
to unbosom their griefs to, none that will patiently hear
their complaints, and deal tenderly by their souls, and
dress their wounds, they flee to other people for relief, as
dispossessed demoniacs will no longer frequent the tombs
of the dead. For, though the Church of England is
allowed to be as sound and healthful a part of the
catholic church as any in the world, yet when people are


1 ‘History of Nonconformity in Wales,’ by Thomas Rees, p. 351.



awakened from their lethargy and begin to perceive their
they will not believe that there is anything in
reason, law, or gospel that should oblige them to starve
their souls to death for the sake of conforming, if
pastor (whose voice, perhaps, they do not know, or who
resides a great way from them) will not vouchsafe to deal
out unto them the Bread of Life.’1


          If for Dissenters, in the above extract, we read Metho-
dists, from the time of Whitefield’s labours, we shall have
a sound explanation of the causes why Methodism gained
such a footing among the Welsh. An idle, incapable, irre-
ligious clergy will not be tolerated for ever, even by the
most abject of nations; and only one result can follow.
When anyone, whether clergyman, Dissenter, or Church-
man, with religious life in his soul, speaks the things he
knows and believes, the people will go and hear him.


 Howel Harris was born in January, 1714, thirty years
after Griffith Jones, and eleven months before Whitefield.
The Welsh and the English preachers were very similar
in disposition. When youths, they both were sprightly
and fond of a jest. When men and ministers, they
were irresistibly earnest, vehement, solemn, exciting rage
or subduing their audiences like children. Harris perhaps
being the sterner of the two. Underneath all his lightness
of manner there had lain, as in the case of Whitefield,
much religious seriousness from the days of his childhood
to the time of his becoming a new man which was in
1735, about the same time that Whitefield passed through
his memorable change. A sharp, incisive sentence,
by his vicar, struck into his conscience, and made him
resolve to live a new life. It was tins, ‘If you are not fit
to come to the Lord’s table, you are not fit to
come to
church; you are neither fit to live nor die.’ His
mind was
with alarm when he discovered how vast were the


1 Welsh piety for 1741 (quoted from Rees’ ‘ History of Nonconformity in
Wales,’ p. 356).


claims of the divine law, and how imperfect had been his
of them. Then he fasted, and denied
every temporal comfort, in order to subdue his
; but all was of no avail, until he believed that
Christ had died for him, and that all his sins had been
laid on
Him. Ignorant of all the disputed points of reli-
gion, he lived in the simple faith that
God loved him,
and would, for
His own name’s sake, love him freely to
the end.


          His tender, earnest, pure mind was much shocked by
the prevailing wickedness of his native land, its neglect of
family worship, its swearing, lying, and reviling, its
drunkenness, fighting, and gaming.
He also expresses his
concern about the neglect of the people by their pastors,
which, considering how his own religious life had been
quickened, strikes one as somewhat strange, and leads us
to conclude either that he must have been very unfair to
his own vicar, or that the vicar must have been addicted
to good preaching, when he did preach, and yet have
been an unfaithful shepherd.
His zeal found work among
some poor people who went every Sunday night to hear
him preach in his mother’s house
; and he soon became
the talk of the country.’


          In November, 1735, he went to Oxford, and entered at
St. Mary’s Hall; but Oxford had nothing congenial, or he
to find it; and, instead of continuing there, as
Whitefield and the Wesleys had done, and as other
men were doing at the time he was there, at the
end of the term he returned to Wales, weary of the place,
because, as he says, of ‘the irregularities and wickedness
which surrounded him.’


                ‘After my return, I was occupied in going from house
to house, until I had visited nearly the whole of the parish
in which
I was born’Talgarth, in Brecon—‘together
with some of the neighbouring ones. The people began
now to assemble in vast numbers, so that the houses in


which I addressed them were too small for the congre-
gations. The word was attended with such power, that
cried out on the spot for the pardon of their sius.
Such as lived in malice acknowledged their faults, made
peace with one another, and appeared concerned about
their eternal state. The parish churches were now better
attended, and family worship was set up in many


          Opposition from the clergy, the magistrates, and the
populace checked the enterprise a little. He next opened
a school; and, at the end of 1736, a novel method of em-
ploying his gift suggested itself. He accompanied from
parish to parish a young man who went about to instruct
young people in psalmody; and, at the close of the music
lesson, offered ‘a word of exhortation.’ Then he set on
foot the religious societies to which I have referred. He
went on teaching his school in the day, and preaching at
night and on the Sunday, until his school was taken from
him, which only gave him the greater opportunity to
accept every invitation to preach; instead of the odd
night services he preached now to crowded auditories
from three to six times a day.


          A fiercer storm answered his larger devotion. He
says, ‘How I was loaded with all manner of calumnies,
from all quarters. The magistrates threatened me, and
the clergy preached against me, branding me with the
character of a false prophet and deceiver. The mob was
also active, lying in wait for me in many places, with
mischievous intentions. Yet during all this I was carried
as on wings of an eagle triumphantly over all. I took
no particular texts, but discoursed freely, as the Lord
gave utterance. The gift I had received was to convince
the conscience of sin. There appeared now a general
reformation in several counties. Public diversions were


1 Morgan’s ‘Life and Times of Howel Harris,’ in Rees’ ‘Welsh. Noncon-
formity,’  p. 362.



laid aside, religion became a common subject of conver-
sation, and places of worship were everywhere crowded.
The Welsh Charity Schools, by the exertions of the Rev.
Griffith Jones, began to spread; people in general ex-
pressed a willingness to receive instruction; and societies
were formed in many places.’’


          About this time a friend brought him news of White-
field’s labours in London, immediately before sailing for
Georgia; and at once the young Welshman felt his heart
united to Whitefield
in such a manner as he had never
the like with anyone before.’ He longed to see him,
but that was impossible. To his great joy, however, a
letter came to him from Whitefield, soon after his return
from Georgia.

                                                                                    ‘London, December, 1738.

      ‘My dear brother,Though I am unknown to you in person,
I have long been united to you in spirit; and have been re-
joiced to hear how the good pleasure of the Lord prospered in
your hands. Go on, go on! He that sent you will assist, com-
fort, and protect you, and make you more than conqueror
His great love. I am a living monument of this truth.
I love you, and wish you may be the spiritual father of thou-
sands, and shine as the sun in the kingdom of your heavenly
Father. Oh, how shall I joy to meet you at the judgment seat!
How you would honour me if you would send a line to your
affectionate though unworthy brother,

                                                                                      George Whitefield.’

          To this letter Harris replied the day after its reception.
The following are extracts from it:

                                                                                    ‘Glamorgan, Jan. 8, 1739.

     ‘Dear brother,—I was most agreeably surprised last night by
a letter from you. The character you bear, the spirit I see and
feel in your work, and the
close union of my soul and spirit to

1 Morgan’s ‘Life and Times of Howel Harris,’ in Rees ‘Welsh
Non-conformity,’ p. 369.



yours, will not allow me to use any apology in my return to
you. Though this is the first time of our correspondence, yet
I can assure you I am no stranger to you. When I first heard
of you and your labours and success, my soul was united to
you, and engaged to send addresses to heaven on your behalf.
When I read your diary, I had some uncommon influence of
the Divine presence shining upon my poor soul almost con-
tinually. And my soul was, in an uncommon manner, drawn
out on your account; but I little thought our good Lord and
Master intended I should ever see your handwriting. Sure, no
person is under such obligations to advance the glory of free
goodness and grace as this poor prodigal. Oh, how ravishing it
is to hear of the Divine love and favour to London! And, to
make your joy greater still, I have some more good news to
send you from Wales. There is a great revival in Cardiganshire
through one Mr. D. Rowlands, a Church clergyman, who has been
much owned and blessed in Caermarthenshire also. We have
also a sweet prospect in Breconshire and part of Monmouthshire.
I hint this in general, as I could not testify my love any way
more agreeably to your soul, than to let you know how the in-
terest of our good, gracious, and dear Saviour prospers here-
abouts. Were you to come to Wales it would not be labour in
vain. I hope the faithful account I have given you will excite
you to send again a line to him that would be sincerely yours,
in Christ Jesus, whilst
Η. H.’

          Though it was of no small use to Harris, who was greatly
distressed about his own irregular mode of preaching, to
hear Whitefield’s encouraging ‘Go on, go on!’ he yet
was not completely satisfied. His fear of not being right
made him halt in his step; but the importunity of the
people, the visible good tendency of his labours, the ap-
probation of many whom he regarded as good ministers,
and the continual power he felt helping him in his work,
at length overcame every scruple. Besides, he had
several times offered himself for holy orders, and been
refused, because he preached as a layman, and so he was
shut up to this way, or to total silence.

          It will be seen from these sketches of Griffith Jones


and Howel Harris what was the state of things in the
Church of England in Wales, and to some extent in Non-
conformity. The preaching of the godly clergy was
frowned upon by their own brethren, and supported, as
well as welcomed, by the Dissenters.

          We can also understand why Whitefield broke away
for a few days from the thousands of Bristol and Kings-
wood. His soul and the soul of Harris leaped to each
other like flames of fire.


          An incident of the short passage to Wales is much too
characteristic of the times to be omitted. Contrary winds
delayed Whitefield at the New Passage, and he says, ‘At
the inn there was an unhappy clergyman, who would
not go over in the passage-boat because I was in it.
Alas! thought I, this very temper would make heaven
itself unpleasant to that man, if he saw me there. I was
told that he charged me with being a Dissenter. I saw
him, soon after, shaking his elbows over a gaming table.’
How inevitably the figure of this priest recalls the ‘young
fellow in a rusty gown and cassock, who,’ as Roderick
Random ‘afterwards understood, was curate of a neigh-
bouring parish.’  ‘However,’ according to the testimony
of the exciseman who helped Parson Shuffle to cheat the
two farmers, and who therefore ought to have known his
own friend, ‘the fellow cannot be too much admired for
his dexterity in making a comfortable livelihood in spite
of such a small allowance. You hear he plays a good
stick, and is really diverting company; these qualifications
make him agreeable wherever he goes; and, as for play-
ing at cards, there is not a man within three counties a
match for him. . . He can shift a card with such address
that it is impossible to discover him.’ Some parsons in
the north and some in the west do not seem to have been
much unlike in the days of Smollett and Whitefield.


          The Welsh visit was very short, and was marked with
those experiences which Whitefield was to know as com-



mon things for the rest of his life. First of all, the
church at Cardiff was denied him, and he had to resort
to the town-hall, where he preached from the judge’s seat
to a small audience of four hundred people. No outrage
was attempted in the building, but some of the baser sort
amused themselves by trailing a dead fox around it outside
—a very trifling annoyance to a preacher with such lung
power, and who could make himself heard in spite of the
shouting and noise. Then there were ‘melting’ meetings
of a more private sort with the religious societies; and
on the whole he had reason, as he says, to think that
there was ‘a most comfortable prospect of the spreading
of the gospel in Wales.’


          On his return to Bristol he had to suffer meaner oppo-
sition than any he had met with before. Newgate, where
he had delighted to preach to the prisoners, and where,
by his gifts, he had relieved much distress, was closed
against him. Unwilling to lose their friend and teacher,
many of the prisoners sent a petition to the mayor, pray-
ing that he might be allowed to come among them as
usual; but the mayor would not grant them their request.
Mr. Dagge, the keeper, a convert and friend of Whitefield,
remonstrated, and urged that Whitefield preached agree-
ably to Scripture; but the only answer was, to appoint
another clergyman to the post of chaplain—for shame
forbade his denying the poor unfortunates all religious
aid. This disappointment was cause for great rejoicing
to the expelled Methodist, who, taking up St. Paul’s lan-
guage, wrote in his journal, ‘Some preach Christ out of
contention, and others of good will: however, Christ is


          His persecution had ample compensation in the new
power of which he had become conscious, and in the new
field of labour which he had found since his arrival in the
west, the fields giving him room enough for any congre-
gation, and the people delighting to meet him there in



all weathers, even the cold and snow of March not being
able to keep them away. At Bath, at Bristol, and in the
neighbouring villages, he was daily engaged in preaching
to thousands,—in the churches if he could gain admis-
sion to them, and if not, then under the May-pole
or in
the fields, or in any open space where the people had a
right to assemble. Then it was that he felt the wonder-
ful influence which pervades mighty audiences,
with one concern, bending their attention to one subject,
and engaged in one common service. His favourite con-
gregation was the Kingswood one, which met on the
Sunday. The crowds standing in awful silence, and the
echo of their singing running from side to side, was, he
says, very solemn and striking. Weariness and sickness
often oppressed him, yet he always found strength when
the task faced him, and probably he ended feeling vigo-
rous and well. He was already beginning to learn
curative properties of effort, and to trust for invigoration
to what exhausted him. Then, too, there was popular
sympathy on his side. He had but to take his stand any-
where, and an audience was before him. When Newgate
was closed, and his sister’s room, where he had been ac-
customed to address a congregation as earlv as six o’clock
on Sunday morning, could not accommodate a fourth of
the people who came, some gentlemen gave him the use
of a bowling-green: and his first congregation in that
novel church was five thousand. This was his first
attempt at preaching in the open air early in the morning.
Its success, and the kindness of friends who had come to
his rescue, cheered and encouraged him; his heart was
full to breaking of grateful emotion. Sympathy, and,
more and better than that, deep religious concern, dis-
played themselves in a striking manner when he came to
the bowling-green for his second service, which was only
thirty-four hours after his first, and on a Monday after-
noon. His hearers crowded the windows and balconies


of the adjoining houses as well as occupied the green, and
great was their excitement when the preacher’s heart
flowed forth in fervent prayer for them, and his tongue
began to enlarge on a theme which never failed to com-
mand all his powers
the love and free grace of Jesus


          Pressed by repeated invitations, he next presented him-
self in a very different part of the city, where many dwelt
who neither feared God nor regarded man, and preached
to thousands in a yard of the glass-houses, declaring both
the threatenings and promises of the Almighty, so that
none might either presume or despair.


          At this service Whitefield was called upon to show his
wisdom and firmness in managing the unruly mob which
he had called together. While, he was preaching, he heard
the holloaing which only an English crowd can raise
when excited; and thinking that it came from some
troublers, he gave no heed to it, but went on, depending
on the strength of his voice, the importance of his subject,
and the blessing of God, to hold his audience together,
and win their hearts to truth. His sermon finished, he
inquired about the noise, and was told that a drunk
gentleman’ had taken the liberty to call him a dog, and
to say that he ought to be whipped at the cart’s tail, at
the same time offering money to anyone who would pelt
him. The hint was at once taken; only, to the ‘gentle-
man’s’ surprise, the boys and people near him, thinking
that it would be better justice to pelt the drunkard than the
preacher, poured a shower of stones and dirt on him. On
hearing the story Whitefield condemned the behaviour of
his champions in strong terms, and finished with a moral
drawn from the ‘gentleman’s’ experience—‘What sorry
wages the devil gives his servants.’


          His courage and tact were sometimes severely tried,
but more at Bath than Bristol, by the scoffing which he
heard as he passed through the crowd, and by the



laughter which greeted him when he mounted a table
for his pulpit. The merriment never lasted long; for
that true love and unusual zeal which carried him to
such congregations bore him strongly and patiently on
with his work, and it was not in human nature to con-
tinue trifling with one so superior to the passions of his
audience. Whoever came to annoy must either submit
to the spell which soon caught the most of the audience,
and stay, either a willing or an unwilling hearer, or go
away disappointed of his sport. To the last we shall
find that Whitefield was never beaten, hazardous and
questionable as some of his efforts afterwards were. His
convictions on the power of preaching, penned after he
had hushed and awed a jeering crowd at Bath, give in
part the secret of his confidence: ‘Men may say what
they please, but there is something in this foolishness of
preaching which, when attended with a Divine energy,
will make the most stubborn heart bend or break. “Is
not my word like fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer
that breaketh the rock in pieces?”


          The picture of his life at Bristol would not be com-
plete without some mention of his kind and fraternal
intercourse with Quakers, which may be said to have
begun in that city. The fiery, vehement, weeping clergy-
man had as great attractions for them as for any body of
men, and he was often invited to enjoy their hospitality.
Always willing to hear what good men had to say for
their particular views, he discussed with them their
arguments for discarding all outward signs, for omitting
baptism and the Lord’s Supper, for denying an outward
call to the ministry, and for insisting so much upon an
inward life, and told them that he thought their omis-
sions were not satisfactory, while their positive view, the
holding to an inward life, placed religion too much in
the non-use of externals. He thought it was good that
they should desire an internal Christ; but, for his part, he


wanted an external Christ as well; so marvellously did
he fail, on account of the scholastic way in which he had
been taught to look upon theological truth, to apprehend
the true oneness between much of his own teaching and
theirs. When he preached he insisted as much as George
Fox himself upon the necessity of having Christ in the
heart, of being spiritually minded, of following a ‘Light
which never was on sea or shore,’ and of attaching more
value to the hidden life of the soul than to the outward
life of forms. He was almost a Quaker in an Anglican’s
gown. But when he chatted with the Quaker by the
fireside, he was the gownsman of Oxford, jealous for his
orders, his calling, and the sacraments that he had to
administer. However, he cared little for the differences
when he considered the sincerity and simplicity among
his friends, thought that their catholic spirit was beau-
tiful, and prayed God to keep him from extremes.


          The time when he must leave the city was near; and
that his work might not fall to the ground, or come to a
stand after his departure, he again and again requested
Wesley to come from London, and carry it on; but
Wesley could not be sure that he ought to go. His in-
clination was not towards Bristol; and, on 'resorting to
his practice of bibliomancy, many passages of Scripture
had a sinister meaning. They were these, ‘Get thee up
into this mountain; and die in the mount whither thou
goest up, and be gathered unto thy people.’  ‘And the
children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab
thirty days.’  ‘I will show him how great things he
must suffer for my name’s sake.’  ‘And devout men
carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamenta-
tion over him.’ His journey was next proposed to the
society in Fetter Lane. Charles could not
bear the
mention of it; but an appeal to a Bible, opened at hap-
hazard, brought him under the power of these
words:  ‘Son of man, behold I take from thee the desire


of thine eyes with a stroke: yet thou shalt not mourn or
weep, neither shall thy tears run down;’ and thinking
that they were a voice from heaven, he held his peace.
Still the brethren were not satisfied, and, to settle the
difficulty, an appeal was made to the lot. This said he
must go. Many wanted a divine confirmation of this
supposed divine announcement, and the rest consenting to
the suggestion, a Bible was opened thrice, and these were
the Scriptures hit upon: ‘Now there was long war be-
tween the house of Saul and the house of David; but
David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of
Saul waxed weaker and weaker.’  ‘When wicked men
have slain a righteous person in
his own house upon his
bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hands,
and take you away from the earth?
’ ‘And Ahaz slept

with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in


          The journal of Whitefield contains the following entry
for Saturday, March 31:—‘Went this morning and visited
the poor man who was misused at the glass-houses. He
seemed much concerned for what he had done, and con-
fessed he knew not what he did; upon which I took
occasion to dissuade him from the sin of drunkenness,
and parted from him very friendly. At eleven, I went
and gave the prisoners a farewell private exhortation,
and left orders concerning the distribution of the money
that had been collected for them. At four, I preached
as usual at the poor-house, where was a greater congre-
gation than ever, and, at my return home, I was much
refreshed with the sight of my honoured friend, Mr. John
Wesley, whom I had desired to come hither, and whom
I had now the pleasure of introducing to my friends, he
having never before been at Bristol. Help him, Lord
Jesus, to water what thy own right hand hath planted,
for thy mercy’s sake.’ Wesley writes in his journal,

Saturday, 31. In the evening, I reached Bristol, and



met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself
at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of
which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all
my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point
relating to decency and order, that I should have thought
the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done
in a church.’ The freer and more impetuous nature of
Whitefield stands out in all distinctness from the states-
manlike nature of the founder of Wesleyan Methodism,
as the two friends begin the work of Sunday. Whitefield
had seen, more by the instinct of his quick emotions
than by the reasoning of his mind, the value of his irre-
gular work, and already had its fruits approved it to him
as acceptable to God; and that day he went out con-
fident and joyful, while Wesley was bewildered and half
inclined to turn away. True to his cautious, practical
mind, Wesley adopted field preaching only when he had.
seen its worth, just as he took up the class-meeting idea
from others, and only consented to lay preaching because
it had been started by men more headlong than himself,
and then supported by the wisdom and piety of his
mother, who warned him not to hinder a work of God.
Others moved, he quickly followed; and, if it was found
practicable, passed on and took the lead.


 Whitefield took him the round of his work on
April 1, and any heart less bold and less devoted than
Wesley’s must have quailed when he saw what was
expected of him. They began at the bowling-green
with the usual Sunday morning service, which was at-
tended by a larger audience than ever. They went to
Hannam Mount, where the colliers and others came in
unusually great numbers. They passed on to Rose Green,
and here the congregation was more enlarged than either
of the other two. Twenty-four coaches and many horse-
men mingled with the crowd, and though the wind was
not so favourable as usual, ‘I was strengthened,’ White-



field says. ‘to cry aloud, and take my last farewell.’
Prayers, blessings, and good wishes were showered on
him as they returned to the city. At seven, Whitefield
went to take his leave of one of the societies, and found
the room and the way to it so crowded that he had to
mount a ladd