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A Sketch of the Life and Labors of George Whitefield   By:

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Author of "A Call to Prayer," "Living or Dead," "Wheat and Chaff," "The Cross," &c.



There are some men in the pages of history, whose greatness no person of common sense thinks of disputing. They tower above the herd of mankind, like the Pyramids, the Parthenon, and the Colosseum, among buildings. Such men were Luther and Augustine, Gustavus Adolphus and George Washington, Columbus and Sir Isaac Newton. He who questions their greatness must be content to be thought very ignorant, very prejudiced, or very eccentric. Public opinion has come to a conclusion about them they were great men.

But there are also great men whose reputation lies buried under a heap of contemporary ill will and misrepresentation. The world does not appreciate them, because the world does not know their real worth. Their characters have come down to us through poisoned channels. Their portraits have been drawn by the ill natured hand of enemies. Their faults have been exaggerated. Their excellences have been maliciously kept back and suppressed. Like the famous sculptures of Nineveh, they need the hand of some literary Layard to clear away the rubbish that has accumulated round their names, and show them to the world in their fair proportions. Such men were Vigilantius and Wickliffe. Such men were Oliver Cromwell and many of the Puritans. And such a man was George Whitefield.

There are few men whose characters have suffered so much from ignorance and misrepresentation of the truth as Whitefield's.

That he was a famous Methodist, and ally of John Wesley, in the last century; that he was much run after by ignorant people, for his preaching; that many thought him an enthusiast and fanatic; all this is about as much as most Englishmen know.

But that he was one of the principal champions of evangelical religion in the eighteenth century in our own country; that he was one of the most powerful and effective preachers that ever lived; that he was a man of extraordinary singleness of eye, and devotedness to the interests of true religion; that he was a regularly ordained clergyman of the Church of England, and would always have worked in the Church, if the Church had not, most unwisely, shut him out; all these are things, of which few people seem aware. And yet, after calm examination of his life and writings, I am satisfied this is the true account that ought to be given of George Whitefield.

My chief desire is to assist in forming a just estimate of Whitefield's worth. I wish to lend a helping hand towards raising his name from the undeservedly low place which is commonly assigned to it. I wish to place him before your eyes as a noble specimen of what the grace of God can enable one man to do. I want you to treasure up his name in your memories, as one of the brightest in that company of departed saints who were, in their day, patterns of good works, and of whom the world was not worthy.

I propose, therefore, without further preface, to give you a hasty sketch of Whitefield's times , Whitefield's life , Whitefield's religion , Whitefield's preaching , and Whitefield's actual work on earth .

1. The story of Whitefield's times is one that should often be told. Without it, no body is qualified to form an opinion either as to the man or his acts. Conduct that in one kind of times may seem rash, extravagant, and indiscreet, in another may be wise, prudent, and even absolutely necessary... Continue reading book >>

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