« VorigeDoorgaan »
serted, and 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 firmament 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 me.”
Besides the colliers, and thousands from neighbouring villages, persons of all ranks flocked daily out of Bristol. And he was soon invited to preach, by some of the better sort, in a large bowling-green in the city itself. Many indeed sneered, to see a stripling, with a gown, mount a table, upon what they called unconsecrated ground. And for once, or twice, it excited the contempt and laughter of the higher rank, who formerly were his admirers, when he preached in the churches. But God enabled him to stand the laugh, and to preach the gospel of Christ with earnestness and constancy; and was pleased to attend it with his blessing
On Sunday, April 29, he preached the first time in Moorfields, and on Kennington-Common. Opportunities of preaching in a more regular way being now denied him, and his preaching in the fields being attended with a remarkable blessing, he judged it his duty to go on in this practice, and ventured the following Sunday into Moorfields. Public notice having been given, and the thing being new and singular, upon coming out of the coach, he found an incredible number of people assembled. Many had told him, that he should never come again out of that place alive. He went in, however, between two of his friends, who by the pressure of the crowd, were soon parted entirely from him, and were obliged to leave him to the mercy of the rabble. But these, instead of hurting him, formed a lane for him, and carried him along to the middle of the fields, (where a table had been placed, which was broken in pieces by the crowd) and afterwards back again to the wall that then parted the upper and lower Moorfields; from whence he preached without molestation, to an exceeding great multitude in the lower fields. Finding such encouragement, he went that same evening to Kennington-Common, a large open place, near three miles distant from London, where, he preached to a vast multitude, who were all attention, and behaved with as much regularity and quietness, as if they had been in a church.
At length, on August the 14th, 1739, he embarked for America, where he spent sixteen months, during which time he travelled through a great part of the country, every where preaching to incredible multitudes, who flocked to hear him, among whom were abundance of negroes. In all places the greater part of the hearers were affected to an amazing degree. Many were deeply convinced of their lost state; many truly converted to God.
Of his travels from Rhode Island, and through a part of the state of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, through Philadelphia, Maryland and the Carolinas, Mr. Whitefield remarks, “ It is now the 75th day, since I arrived at Rhode Island. My body was then weak, but the Lord has much renewed its strength. I have been enabled to preach, I think, an hundred and seventy-five times in public, besides exhorting frequently in private. I have travelled upwards of eight hundred miles, and gotten upwards of seven hundred pounds sterling in goods, provisions, and money, for the Georgia orphans. Never did I perform my journeys with so little fatigue, or see such a continuance of the divine presence in the congregations to whom I have preached. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
On the 16th of January, 1741, Mr. Whitefield again sailed for England. He soon after visited Scotland and continued preaching there about three months. At length, after having gone through evil report and good report he left Edinburgh in October, 1741, and travelled to Abergavenny in Wales, where, in consequence of a former resolution, he married Mrs. James, a widow lady of that place. From thence he went to Bristol where he preached twice a day with his usual success. After various excursions into the country, he went to London in the spring of the year 1742, and now ventured to take a very extraordinary step. It had been the custom for many years past, in the holiday seasons, to erects booths in Moorfields, for mountebanks, players, puppet-shows, &c. which were attended from morning till night, by innumerable multitudes of the lower sort of people. He formed a resolution to preach the gospel among them; and executed it.
On Whitmonday, at six o'clock in the morning, attended by a large congregation of praying people, he began. Thousands, who were waiting there, gaping for their usual diversions, all flocked round him. His text was John iii. 14. They gazed, they listened, they wept: and many seemed to be stung with deep conviction for their past sins. All was hushed and solemn. “Being thus encouraged, (says he) I ventured out at noon, when the fields were quite full; and could scarce help smiling, to see thousands, when a merry-andrew was trumpeting to them, upon observing me mount a stand on the other side of the field, deserting him, till not so much as one was left behind, but all flocked to hear the gospel. But this, together with a complaint that they had taken near twenty or thirty pounds less that day than usual, so enraged the owners of the booths, that when I came to preach a third time in the evening, in the midst of the sermon, a merry-andrew got up upon a man's shoulders, and advancing near the pulpit, attempted to slash me with a long heavy whip several times. Soon afterwards they got a recruiting serjeant, with his drum, &c. to pass through the congregation. But I desired the people to make way for the king's officer, which was quietly done. Finding these efforts to fail, a large body, quite on the opposite side, assembled together, and having got a great poie for their standard, advanced with sound of drum, in a very threatening manner, till they came near the skirts of the congregation. Uncommon courage was given both to preacher and hearers. I prayed for support and deliverance, and was heard. For just as they approached us with looks full of resentment, I know not by what accident, they quarrelled among themselves, threw down their staff, and went their way, leaving, however, many of their company behind, who, before we had done, I trust were brought over to join the besieged party. I think I continued in praying, preaching, and singing, (for the noise was too great at times to preach) about three hours. We then retired to the tabernacle, where thousands flocked. We were determined to pray down the booths; but, blessed be God, more substantial work was done. At a moderate computation, I received (I believe) a thousand notes from persons under conviction; and soon after, upwards of three hundred were received into the society in one day. Some I married, that had lived together without marriage. One man had exchanged his wife for another and given fourteen shillings in exchange. Numbers, that seemed as it were to have been bred up for Tyburn, were at that time plucked as firebrands out of the burning."
Soon after these transactions, he embarked a second time for Scotland, and arrived at Leith, on the 3d of June, 1742. When he was at Edinburgh, he received accounts that the Spaniards had landed in Georgia. Upon this occasion he wrote to Mr. Habersham; “I am glad my dear family is removed to Mr. Bryan's, and rejoice that our glorious God had raised him and his brother up, to be such friends in time of need. My thoughts have been variously exercised, but my heart kept stedfast and joyful in the Lord of all lords, whose mercy endureth for ever. I long to be with you, and methinks could willingly be found at the head of you kneeling and praying, though a Spaniard's sword should be put to my throat. But alas, I know not how I should behave, if put to the trial: only we have a promise, that as our day is, so our strength shall be. The thoughts of divine love carry me above every thing. My dear friend, the Spaniards cannot rob us of this; nor can men or devils. I humbly hope that I shall shortly hear of the spiritual and temporal welfare of you all."
During the period from this time till 1769, Mr. Whitefield often preached in every city in England and Scotland, and in most of the villages. He visited Ireland and several places on the continent of Europe, and some parts of the West-Indies. He also made five more visits to America, and more than once travelled through all the states. He every where preached to crowded assemblies with his usual success and opposition.
At length, on the beginning of September, 1769, Mr Whitefield embarked for the seventh and last time for America. Here he spent his last efforts for the promulgation of the gospel, and at length departed this life, in a fitof the asthma, at Newbury-Port, in New-England, on the 30th of September, 1770, where his remains were deposited. He was not full fifty-six at the time of his death; but thirty-four years however of that time he had spent in the ministry.
SERIES OF LIVES.
(Continued from page 355]
LIFE OF CLEMENS ROMANUS. There is a general analogy between the operations of nature and of grace, for, as in the former, one species is shaded off into another, so that the gradation is sometimes hardly perceptible, so, in the latter, the first miraculous effusion of the spirit was closed by no abrupt and violent termination, but passed on by a gentle transition to its more ordinary though still powerful work. The apostles are to be regarded as a singular order in the church: in point of inspiration and of miraculous powers it is not, perhaps, too much to say, that they had no successors; for neither was the conduct of those who followed them, regulated by directions from heaven equally specific, and their preaching ordinarily attended with the same attestations from above, nor were their writs ings dictated by the same unerring spirit of wisdom and truth; yet there appears to have been, at least there was once understood to have been, something like a connecting link between these two situations of the Church.
Of Clemens, afterwards Bishop of Rome, who received that singular attestation that his name was written in the Book of Life, we learn from the same authority that he was the companion and fellow-labourer of St. Paul; and his first Epistle to the Corinthians, probably the only genuine composition of his hand which hath come to modern time, was anciently admitted into the canon of scripture. The parentage and country of this holy man are alike unknown: the language, however, and style of his epistle lead us to conclude that he was a native Greek. The labours which he underwent, and the countries which he traversed, can only be conjectured from his connexion with the indefatigable apostle of the Gentiles, and of his later history nothing more has been recorded, than that he was ordained bishop of Rome, according to some accounts immediately after St. Peter, but more probably with the intervention of Anacletus. The precise time and manner of his death are equally uncertain with his birth, for what is called the martyrdom of Clemens, in which these and many other circumstances concerning him have been very confidently told, is a modern fabrication of some idle and superstitious Greek, and no authentic or even ancient acts of his martyrdom exist.
In such a penury of facts with respect to this apostolical man, it is happy, however, for the Church of Christ, that, what is of much more importance, his temper, opinions, and principles, may now be learned from himself: for his first Epistle to the Church of Corinth, which had been cited by Irenæus, Clemens of Alexandria, and Origen, and of the genuineness of which no doubts were entertained by antiquity, after being inquired for in vain from the revival of letters, was retrieved by the learned Patrick Young, from a manuscript supposed to be as old as the first Council of Nice, and printed at Oxford A. D. 1633.
The antiquity and authority of this work, the importance of the doctrines it contains, and their peculiar suitableness to the divided state of the church in the present day, all entitle it to an abstract, to which the remainder of this article will therefore be devoted.