The Inspiring Ministry of George Whitefield
The name of George Whitefield has enjoyed something like a resurrection in our generation. After more than a century of neglect there has been a revival of interest in the life and work of the great eighteenth-century evangelist. This has been largely due, among other things, to the stimulation given by the late Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the subsequent definitive biography by Dr Arnold Dallimore, and the re-publication of some of Whitefield's writings. Happily, information about Whitefield is now readily available.
The aim of this paper is to present the challenge that a study of Whitefield's life should leave with us today. In order to bring out some of the lessons, we will:
- Take a brief look at the times in which he lived;
- Remind ourselves of how he became a Christian and then a minister;
- Assess what he accomplished;
- Examine some of the explanations for his extraordinary ministry;
- Draw some conclusions for our own lives and churches today.
The Times in Which He Lived
George Whitefield began his Christian life and ministry in the 1730s. Someone writing of that decade says: 'The life of England was foul with moral corruption and crippled by spiritual decay'. What a change from the England of the 1640s and '50s when Puritanism was in power! A spiritual decay that began in the 1660s spread so widely that at the beginning of the eighteenth century there was truth in the saying 'Puritanism is dead'. It would take too long to trace the causes of the decline here. The spread of Deism and rationalism played a major part. Reason and virtue came to be regarded as the sum total of Christianity. Natural religion was sufficient. There was no need for special revelation or miraculous salvation. Blackstone, the lawyer, making a tour of London churches early in the reign of George III, observed of all the noted clergymen whom he heard that it would have been impossible to tell whether they were followers of Confucius, Mahomet or Christ! Bishops and clergy were given up to worldliness. They were largely unconverted men who looked at preaching, extempore prayer and earnestness as a threat to religion!
With the decay of vital Christianity it is not surprising that society was sick. Immorality of all kinds prevailed. One of the symptoms of the nation's ills was the gin craze. The country was in an uncontrollable orgy of gin drinking. London in particular was notorious. The London depicted by Hogarth had 8,659 gin shops (every sixth house); 8 million gallons a year were consumed. The effects were felt. 'Gin' said Bishop Benson, 'had made the English what they were not before — cruel and inhuman'. They indulged in cruel and pernicious sports. There was a coarseness about life.
Much more could be said in description of the evils of that day. It is not surprising that crime was rampant. The authorities resorted to the only hope they had of checking it — the increase of punishment. They made as many as 160 offences punishable by death. In London they erected a permanent scaffold at Kennington and another at Tyburn. Hanging became a gala event. Prisons were crowded and the conditions were awful. Some efforts were made, with very little success, to improve conditions. Legislation was introduced against the sale of gin, a report was made on prison conditions, hospitals were established and schools were founded. Attempts at reform included the formation of the Society for the Reformation of Manners.
There were efforts made within the Church to try and counteract the spread of evil. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) distributed Christian literature among the common people. The Religious Societies movement — gatherings for reading the Bible, studying religious books and praying and visiting the poor — begun in 1673, had grown, so that by 1730 nearly one hundred of them existed in London. That movement was to be the cradle of the Revival that was to come. Attempts were made to reply to the teaching of the Deists. The best known was Bishop Butler's work The Analogy of Religion. It was merely defensive, intellectually correct but cold. Butler acknowledged that scepticism was so rampant that Christianity was treated as though 'it was now discovered to be fictitious — and nothing remained but to set it up as the subject of mirth and ridicule'. In the very year that Butler's Analogy was published (1736), there came to London on the 4th of August a young man of 21 who had, only two months earlier, been ordained to the ministry of the Church of England. He was George Whitefield, destined to be under God the leader of a revival which changed in a few years the whole temper of English society!
How He Became a Christian and a Preacher
George Whitefield was born in Gloucester at the Bell Inn on the 16th of December 1714. Some of his ancestors were clergymen in the Church of England. His father died when he was two years old. There seems to have been a conflict in his soul from a very early age. 'I had some early convictions of sin', he writes in his Journal at the age of 22. He does not spare himself in recounting the sins of youth. 'It would be endless to recount the sins and offences of my younger days'. There is no evidence to suggest that he was exceptionally wicked. He suffered from a very tender conscience. 'I can recollect very early movings of the blessed Spirit upon my heart'. Thus early on he was being taught the evil of sin and made aware of the wretchedness of his own heart.
Even before receiving his first Communion, he was bent on leading a strict religious life: 'I began now to be more and more watchful over my thoughts, words and actions ... I went on in a round of duties'. On going to Oxford University to pursue his studies he found the ideal companions in the Methodists. This group had been formed in 1728 under the leadership of Charles Wesley and was otherwise known as the Holy Club. It was akin to the Religious Societies, mentioned already. The purpose was to promote the growth of personal piety. Members practised living according to a fixed plan. By the time Whitefield went to Oxford, John Wesley had assumed the leadership of the Holy Club. In meeting the Wesleys, Whitefield was entering upon the most important friendships of his life.
'I now began, like them, to live by rule'. He practised the Club's rigid discipline. It was salvation by self-effort. Grace did not come into it. 'My friends at Oxford', he later acknowledged, 'inclined to the mystical divinity'. They knew nothing of the new birth. 'I knew no more that I was to be born a new creature in Christ Jesus than if I had never been born at all'; that is until he read a book written in the previous century by a young Scotsman, Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man. 'God showed me that I must be born again or be damned. I learned that a man may go to church, say his prayers, receive the sacrament and yet not be a Christian'.
Alarmed by what he discovered, he began to search for that union of the soul with God. His inward conflicts and continued abstinence so emaciated his body that he could scarce creep upstairs. On doctor's orders he was confined to bed where he lay for seven weeks. 'The blessed Spirit was all the time purifying my soul'. When he had come to an end of all human resources, when there was nothing else he could do to seek salvation, God revealed himself in grace.
'God was pleased to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold of his dear Son by a living faith, and by giving me the Spirit of adoption, to seal me even to the day of everlasting redemption. O! 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'. 'Whenever I go to Oxford'; he declared later in life, 'I cannot help running to that place where Jesus Christ first revealed himself to me and gave me the new birth'.
The evidence of the change in his heart was immediate and dramatic. Forced to return to Gloucester to recover his health he began to witness in his Jerusalem. He made restitution for thefts committed in youth. The careful discipline of life continued. He began to pore over the Scriptures on his knees. He prayed over every word and line. He devoured Matthew Henry's Commentary. He read Alleine's Alarm to the Unconverted, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted and Janeaway's Life. He was the instrument in the awakening of some young people whom he then formed into a Society — the first of the 'new' Methodist societies. He was diligent in visiting the sick and the prisoners.
It is little wonder that his zeal and diligence attracted the attention of the Bishop of Gloucester, Dr Benson, who wished to have him ordained. The proposal occasioned in Whitefield a sense of dread. 'I have prayed a thousand times, till the sweat has dropped from my face like rain, that God would not let me enter the church before He called me and thrust me into his work'. On 20th June, 1736 he was solemnly admitted to Holy Orders. The following Sunday he preached his first sermon in the Church of St Mary de Crypt, where he had been baptised and where he had first received the Lord's Supper, in front of his own family, former schoolmates and townsfolk. 'Some few mocked, but most of them seemed struck, and I have since heard that a complaint has been made to the Bishop that I drove fifteen mad the first sermon. The worthy Prelate, as I am informed, wished that the madness might not be forgotten before next Sunday'.
And thus was prepared the instrument that God was to use in a mighty way for the awakening of thousands.
What He Accomplished
The three years that shaped the whole of Whitefield's life and ministry were – 1735: his conversion; 1736: his ordination as a deacon, and 1737: the year in which his preaching literally 'startled the nation'. In some respects 1737 was the most important year in Whitefield's life — he was a new phenomenon in the Church of England. All eyes were fixed on him. His popularity in Bristol, London and other places was enormous. This year's evangelistic labours gave a bias to the whole of his future life. He prepared 'the way for Methodist itinerancy' (Luke Tyerman).
Whitefield first came to London, as we mentioned, in August 1736, six weeks after his ordination. The population of London at that time was 500,000. He did not know one soul. He had been invited to take the place of a former Oxford friend, curate at the Tower of London, who was called away on other duties. 'I said, Lord, I cannot go ... I pleaded to be at Oxford two or three years more and intended to make 150 sermons ... I said I am undone, I am unfit to preach in thy great name!' With fear and trembling he came and supplied for two months. His preaching attracted attention. The Tower Chapel was crowded on Lord's Days. 'Religious friends from divers parts of the town attended the Word and several young men came on Lord's Day morning, under serious impressions, to hear me discourse about the new birth and the necessity of renouncing all in affection in order to follow Jesus Christ'.
In the months following his visit to London, Whitefield became convinced that he ought to go to the colony of Georgia, having received pleas from the Wesley brothers who were labouring there. After saying farewell to his friends in the West Country he came to London in the summer of 1737 to prepare for the voyage. In the providence of God, the sailing was postponed until the end of that year. During his short sojourn in the West Country and at Bristol in particular, he preached daily to crowded churches, and people under spiritual concern sought him continually. While waiting to sail for Georgia he thought he would spend his time in London 'in my usual practice of reading and praying over the Word of God on my knees'. God had other plans for him.
The Religious Societies held services under their own auspices in certain churches. At these they had a guest clergyman administer the Sacrament, preach and receive an offering for a charity. They were allotted an hour which would not conflict with regular services — usually six in the morning. As one might expect, the hearers were few, the services dull and the offerings small! Looking for a preacher who could put some life into the dreary undertaking, they pounced on Whitefield. In weeks the whole scene was changed. Whitefield records in his Journals:
'I was invited to preach at Cripplegate, St Ann's and Forster Lane churches, at six on the Lord's Day morning, and to assist in administering the Holy Sacrament. I embraced the invitations, and so many came, that sometimes we were obliged to consecrate fresh elements two or three times; and stewards found it difficult to carry the offerings to the communion table. I also preached at Wapping Chapel, the Tower, Ludgate, Newgate, and many of the churches where weekly lectures were kept up. The congregations continually increased, and generally on a Lord's Day, I used to preach four times to very large and very affected auditories, besides reading prayers twice or thrice, and walking perhaps twelve miles in going backwards and forwards from one church to the other. God made my feet like hind's feet, and filled me with joy unspeakable at the end of my day's work' (p. 87).
It was in these months that Whitefield, at the age of 22, first became a public figure. His name appeared in London papers. His sermon, On The Nature and Necessity of our Regeneration or New Birth in Christ Jesus, appeared in print. He speaks of this as the sermon which under God began the awakening at London, Bristol, Gloucester and Gloucestershire. 'The tide of popularity now began to run very high — had it not been for my compassionate High Priest popularity would have destroyed me'.
As his popularity increased so did the opposition. Two clergymen would not let him preach in their pulpits unless he renounced part of his sermon on regeneration. Another minister called him 'a pragmatical rascal'.
'Whitefield', says Arnold Dallimore, 'originated Methodism at this time. There was the former "Methodism" or "Holy Club"! – a harsh legalism, without the new birth. The new and true Methodism was based on "Ye must be born again" and it took the message to the multitudes. It was a totally new movement inaugurated by Whitefield while the Wesleys were as yet unknown. The people of this movement were called Whitefieldians and Methodists and the two terms were interchangeable and synonymous until the breach with the Wesleys'.
Whitefield eventually set sail for Georgia, a colony that had been founded some five years previously. The four-month journey was used to reach all on board with the gospel. The passengers consisted mainly of soldiers, 'a scornful, cursing company' to begin with but by the time they reached their destination 'the soldiers stood forth like little children to say their Catechism'. This, his first visit to America, was of short duration. He was soon heading back for England to secure a charter and money for an orphan house which was to be an absorbing concern of Whitefield's throughout his life. Less than a year after leaving, he was back in London in December 1738. News of his arrival startled his foes and occasioned a burst of joy among his friends.
During his absence, instead of his influence dying down, it only increased. The publishers were busy. Multiple editions of his sermons appeared. His first Journal saw the light of day. There was a great stirring in the Societies. A new factor entered the situation with the conversion of the Wesleys. John Wesley's conversion took place in a Society meeting in Aldersgate Street as someone was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans: '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 death.' For the first time in three and a half years John Wesley and Whitefield met 'to take sweet counsel together'. Whitefield took up his ministry where he had left it off. 'I perceived that God had greatly watered the seed sown by my ministry when last in London.'
The situation, however, was fast moving to a crisis. More and more clergymen were voicing opposition to Whitefield's teaching on the new birth. Attacks on Whitefield were published. Churches were closed against him. He found this when he went to Bristol. His heart was touched by the state of the poor colliers there. He went out into the open air to preach to them,
'Blessed be God that I have now broken the ice! I believe I was never more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach these hearers in the open fields. Some may censure me; but if I thus pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ'. A few days later: 'At four I hastened to Kingswood. At a moderate computation there was about ten thousand people to hear me ... The fire is kindled in the country; and I know that all the devils in hell shall not be able to quench it.'
Back in London in April he went to Islington church to preach. In the midst of prayer the church warden demanded his licence or else he would not be allowed to preach. 'After the communion service was over I preached in the churchyard, being assured my Master now called me out here, as well as in Bristol ... Since the self-righteous men of this generation count themselves unworthy, I go into the highways and hedges, and compel harlots, publicans and sinners to come in, that my Master's house may be filled!' From this point in April 1739 there was no turning back. Whitefield took the historic decision to treat two spaces of ground as great open-air cathedrals. The one was at Moorfields, a pleasure ground of grass, gravel paths and elm trees on the northern outskirts of the old city of London and the other at Kennington, where criminals were executed and the riff-raff commonly passed the time. Amazing preaching services took place in these locations. On many occasions the numbers assembling could not have been less than 10,000 and were more like 20,000.
Near to Moorfields is Bunhill Fields where the dust of many Puritan and non-conformist divines lies. There were some in the non-conformist churches of London who perceived in Whitefield's preaching the savour of their popular commentator, Matthew Henry. They procured a piece of ground at Moorfields and built a huge wooden shed. In this Tabernacle Whitefield began preaching in May 1741. The work went on apace. A year later he wrote, 'We see greater things than ever at London. Every day poor sinners are brought home to Jesus Christ. Our people are filled as with new wine: it seems to be a "Pentecost".' After twelve years' use the wooden Tabernacle at Moorfields came down and on the same site a spacious brick building was built capable of holding some four thousand people. Three years later, for the sake of London's population farther west of the city, Whitefield opened a second chapel in Tottenham Court Road. It was sneeringly called 'Whitefield's Soul-Trap'. It was such a trap that by 1759 the chapel had to be enlarged, so that with a seating capacity of 5,000, it became the largest nonconformist chapel then in the world.
Although London, for Whitefield, was 'the Jerusalem' of the eighteenth-century Revival, his influence on the revival throughout England, in Wales, in Scotland and in America was no less astounding. He was the fructifier of the Revival in Wales and the first Moderator of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church. He visited Scotland fourteen times, the first being in 1741, and he had some considerable bearing on the revival that broke out in Cambuslang in 1742 and to which Whitefield returned. He visited America seven times, crossing the Atlantic thirteen times in all. He died there in 1770. All writers are agreed that the influence of Whitefield in America from about 1740 onwards was simply overwhelming. Throughout his thirty-five years he preached upwards of 18,000 sermons, speaking generally, forty, sometimes sixty, hours every week.
Preaching Whitefield's funeral sermon, John Wesley asked his hearers: 'Have we read or heard of any person since the apostles who testified to the Gospel of the grace of God through so widely extended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world?' 'Above all, have we read or heard of any who has been a blessed instrument in the hands of God bringing so many sinners from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God?'
J. R. Green in his Short History of the English People comments,'
The revival changed in a few years the whole temper of English society. The church was restored to life and activity. Religion carried to the hearts of the people a fresh spirit of moral zeal, while it purified our literature and our manners. A new philanthropy reformed our prisons, infused clemency and wisdom into our penal laws, abolished the slave trade, and gave the first impulse to popular education.'
The Explanation of His Ministry
The study of Whitefield's life and ministry and his remarkable achievements might lead us to think that he is so far removed from our level that it is scarcely worth considering any application to ourselves. After all, he was an exceptionally gifted preacher — perhaps, as Dr Lloyd-Jones claimed, 'the greatest English preacher that ever lived'. He was a born orator who could hold his audiences spellbound. David Garrick, the great actor, said that Whitefield could move an audience, either to weeping or rejoicing, merely by the manner in which he pronounced 'Mesopotamia'. He also said, 'I'd give a hundred guineas to be able to say "Oh" like Whitefield'.
Much has been written on the characteristics of Whitefield's preaching. We are not going to gain much in our day by copying his style of preaching. There is not much to be gained by a study of his doctrine. His exegesis of Scripture had its limitations. What made Whitefield the preacher he was and enabled him to accomplish such great things for God was his spirituality — the kind of Christian life that he lived. The reading of his Journals and Letters and Sermons and the biographies will surely stir us up to be better Christians, whether we are in the full-time ministry or not.
It was the spiritual aspect of the man that appealed to perhaps the two greatest preachers in the centuries subsequent to the eighteenth. C. H. Spurgeon, the nineteenth-century Baptist, said: 'As I read his life I am conscious of distinct quickening whenever I turn to it. He lived. Other men seem to be only half-alive; but Whitefield was all life, fire, wing, force'. D. M. Lloyd-Jones in the twentieth century could say: 'I have read everything that I could discover on Whitefield and by him, and never have I failed to be thrilled as I have done so, and stimulated to become a better Christian and a better preacher'.
What is it, then, that the spiritual life of Whitefield can teach us?
He had a thorough conviction of sin
We read in John 16:8 the words of our Lord, 'When he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will convict the world of sin'. That is the first work of the Spirit, one might say. It was the first work in Whitefield's life. From an early age, the Spirit appeared to be striving with him. He was permitted to taste some of the sins of youth in order to show him the evil of his nature. The corruption of his heart was made clear to him. There was a thorough law work going on in his soul. It was akin to the experience of the Apostle Paul: 'I had not known sin but by the law ... I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died' (Romans 7:9). The conviction came with an understanding of the spirituality and holiness of the law.
Three consequences arose from this:
- The majesty and holiness of God became a reality to him. 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord'. Our God is a consuming fire. The displeasure of God against sin became a conscious reality. He knew that the sinner is exposed to the wrath of God. Who can 'dwell with everlasting burnings?' Sin is no light, trifling thing. 'If you have never felt the weight of original sin, do not call yourself a Christian.' The true fear of God was burnt into his soul. His preaching was geared to alarm.
- Salvation came through a despair of self and self-effort. He was left with no illusions about the way of salvation. God did it. Free grace was burnt into the very fabric of his Christian experience.
- The end of this process is that the sinner might be humbled. Whitefield had an overwhelming sense of his own unworthiness. Dr Lloyd-Jones gives this as one of the reasons for the great neglect of Whitefield. 'Less than the least of all' was the way he concluded his letters in later life. 'He made God look big' was the response of a young boy in Boston to Whitefield's preaching.
- He had a burning love for the Lord Jesus Christ
The renunciation of sin led to surrender of the soul to God. If we are not convicted that the greatest sin is not loving the Lord, have we been convicted at all? It was his consuming love for the Lord Jesus Christ that made Whitefield the Christian he was. The Spirit's work is that of taking of the things of Christ and showing them to the believer. An American minister, in a funeral sermon on Whitefield's death, spoke about 'The ardent love he bore to the Lord Jesus Christ ... He had such a sense of the incomparable excellence of the person of Christ'. Another declared: 'Mr. Whitefield's zeal for Christ was extraordinary ... he recommended himself to the thousands of hearers by his engagedness for holiness and souls'. Here are some of the longings expressed by Whitefield:
'Night and day Jesus fills me with his love.'
'The sight I have of God by faith ravishes my soul:
how shall I be ravished when I see him face to face!'
'I would leap my seventy years and fly into his presence.'
'Oh for a thousand lives to spend for Jesus.'
The day before his fifty-second birthday he declared:
'Oh loving, ever-loving altogether lovely Lord Jesus, how little, yea how very little, have I done and suffered for thee. I am ashamed of myself. Tomorrow, God willing, I intend to take the sacrament upon it that I will begin to be a Christian.'
Writing to Elizabeth Delamotte he said:
'There is nothing I dread more than having my heart drawn away by earthly objects. When that time comes, it will be over with me indeed; I must then bid adieu to zeal and fervency of spirit and in effect bid the Lord Jesus to depart from me.'
'It was the sudden appearance of this feature in Whitefield and the first Methodists', writes lain Murray, 'which constituted the first turning point of the eighteenth century'. Religion had been reduced to reason, logic, respectability, formality. Preaching was about the duty of man and morals. There was no warmth or feeling. 'The generality of preachers talk of an unknown and an unfelt Christ'. Whitefield was jealous to preach a felt Christ. 'Christianity', says Dr Lloyd-Jones in his series on Ephesians, 'means warmth, it means a glow ... we are so decorous, we are so controlled, we do everything with such decency and order that there is no life, there is no warmth, there is no power ... What is preaching? It is theology on fire and a theology that does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology, or at least the man's understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire'. It was Whitefield who declared, 'I want to be a flame of fire ... to be filled with the fire of love, wonder and gratitude'.
Conclusions for Our Lives and Churches
Whitefield's life and ministry reveals the deficiency of our spiritual life
We need to examine ourselves in the light of what God did in the life of Whitefield and in that age. It gives us a standard of comparison. Never was there an age that makes so much of the Holy Spirit and yet seems to have so little evidence of the true work of the Spirit. When we look around at the churches and the house groups in our land we can say with Micah: 'O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these his doings?' Are these his doings?
The Spirit is the Spirit of holiness, the Spirit that glorifies God and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for that to be done, man and the pride of man must be humbled in the dust. But what do we find? We find that true conviction of sin is rare. Seldom, if ever, do we see sinners in a state of alarm. There is no law work. We are obsessed with the happiness of man rather than with the holiness of God. Our churches are filled with men and women who have never truly been humbled before God. There is an Antinomian spirit among us. We may proclaim 'Once Saved, Always Saved'. That is true and comforting as long as we are clear that 'saved' means saved from the love and practice of sin. We should be able to declare with equal conviction: 'No Holiness, No Heaven!'
Where do we stand? Has the foundation been truly laid in our heart? Was the holiness and the spirituality of the law burnt into our soul? Perhaps we had such an experience but we have grown cold. We have 'left our first love'. Whitefield, it could be truthfully said, never left his first love. Perhaps we have become too cerebral, too intellectual, too respectable in our day. We are unwilling to be 'fools for Christ's sake'.
Whitefield's life and ministry gives us great encouragement and hope
- We should not despair of any situation. We have considered the condition of the church and nation at the beginning of the eighteenth century. Things could hardly have been worse. The last thing that people of that day expected was a revival of Puritanism. Puritanism was dead. Many today say that the old evangelical truths are dead, that belief in an infallible Bible is gone for ever, that preaching is outmoded. God can change the situation in a moment. To quote Jonathan Edwards and his experience: 'When the Holy Spirit did set in, as much was done in a few days as at ordinary times in a year or two'.
- We should pray for and anticipate revival. Why is there so little anticipation of revival? The study of church history should be a great stimulus to our faith. We see what God has done in the past. It stimulates us to look with new hope. If this is what will glorify God, honour Christ, enflame the believer's love for the Lord, restore the fear of God to our churches and save souls from hell, let us cry to God for it. It would be good if we echoed the words of M'Cheyne: 'Oh, for one of Whitefield's weeks in London'.
Let us approach our contemporary situation with a positive and aggressive faith
Great things can be done by those who have the fire within. We must not lose our nerve. In the age prior to Whitefield, the decline was so great, and evil so rampant, that effort on the part of the true people of God seemed useless. 'For Whitefield, this attitude showed far too much respect for the devil. Satan had fooled and bluffed them — let him be attacked in the name of Christ and he could be overthrown'.
At the beginning of any new spiritual era there is invariably a prophetic note struck which challenges and even denounces the prevailing state of things. Whitefield went right to the heart of the problem. His opposition was directed to the authors of the national condition and he startled all ranks of society by identifying these persons as none other than the clergy and the bishops. 'With fearless eloquence, Whitefield preached that the sins of the church were more offensive to God than the sins of the nation, that in most pulpits the Gospel of Christ was buried out of sight, that sinners were flattered and encouraged to live in nominal Christianity and that bishops wilfully ordained unconverted men'.
'One sinner destroys much good'. One saint with the fire of God in his soul can achieve much good. 'The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds' (2 Corinthians 10:4). The future of the church does not lie with the liberals, the unbelievers; it lies with God and those who stand for God. The Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants! Let us honour our Lord Jesus Christ by being faithful to him! The primary duty of the Christian is to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He can do great things. What he has done encourages us to believe that he will do it again.