GEORGE WHITEFIELD was one of the most powerful and effective preachers the world has ever produced, swaying
his hearers and touching the hearts of immense audiences in a manner that has rarely been equalled and never surpassed.
While not a native of America, yet much of his labor was spent in this country. He wielded a great influence in
the United States in early days, and his death occurred here; so that he well deserves a place in this volume as
one of the most celebrated men America has known.
George Whitefield was born in the Bull Inn, at Gloucester, England, December 16, 1714. He acquired the rudiments
of learning in St. Mary's grammar school. Later he attended Oxford University for a time, where he became intimate
with the Oxford Methodists, and resolved to devote himself to the ministry. He was ordained in the Gloucester Cathedral
June 20, 1836, and the following day preached his first sermon in the same church. On that day there commenced
a new era in Whitefield's life. He went to London and began to preach at Bishbpsgate church, his fame soon spreading
over the city, and shortly he was engaged four times on a single Sunday in addressing audiences of enormous magnitude,
and he preached in various parts of his native country, the people crowding in multitudes to hear him and hanging
upon the rails and rafters of the churches and approaches thereto. He finally sailed for America, landing in Georgia,
where he stirred the people to great enthusiasm. During the balance of his life he divided his time between Great
Britain and America, and it is recorded that he crossed the Atlantic thirteen times. He came to America for the
seventh time in 1770. He preached every day at Boston from the 17th to the 20th of September, 1770, then traveled
to Newburyport, preaching at Exeter, New Hampshire, September 29, on the way. That evening he went to Newburyport,
where he died the next day, Sunday September 30, 1770.
"Whitefield's dramatic power was amazing," says an eminent writer in describing him. "His voice
was marvelously varied, .and he ever had it. at command an organ, .a flute, a harp, all in one. His intellectual
powers were not of a high order, but he had an abundance of that ready talent and that wonderful magnetism which
makes the popular preacher; and beyond all natural endowments, there was in his ministry the power of evangelical
truth, and, as his converts believed, the presence of the spirit of God."
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.
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