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We have brought the history of GEORGE WHITEFIELD to the time when, settled in Oxford, he was received into the intimacy of the Wesleys, and shared their opinions. Out of this gloomy system he passed, earlier than John Wesley and more easily, as his mind was simpler, and less exercised in scholastic subtlety.

His sense of sin, he tells us, brought him to his knees, and forced him to feel that neither observances nor obedience could lessen his guilt. His Greek Testament he studied carefully ; he pored, and prayed over it, often in tears, pondering it word by word. The commentary of Henry, the contemplations of good Bishop Hall aided him. These were his teachers. Thus he received "the good old doctrine of the Church of England ;” that the blood of Christ removes the guilt of human sin. Resting on this, he felt the load drop from him ; joy so deep arose, that he could not avoid breaking forth in songs of praise; peace so complete

possessed him, that he poured forth his feelings in prayer. His joyful piety found its natural vent in benevolent effort. The stripling became the missionary, the visitor of the sick, and comforter of the sad. Unwearied in these offices at Oxford, he enlarged them on his return to Gloucester, with such earnestness, that the good Bishop Benson, observing this, offered to ordain him. Whitefield was under twenty-one years of age, and the Bishop's rule was, to ordain only at the age of twenty-three. In June 1736, after earnest thought in a spirit of great devotion, Whitefield was ordained at Gloucester, in the church of St. Mary de Crypt, where he had been baptized ; and he preached his first sermon to a congregation, which had traced and noted his wayward path. His success in the pulpit was beyond precedent. From Gloucester he was summoned to preach in Bristol, and thence to serve the church of one of his friends in London.

At Bristol, all classes crowded to hear him. His warnings aroused thousands. The churches were as full on week-days, as on Sundays. Unprecedented collections answered his appeals. A second visit to Bristol only deepened the impression. Then might be seen crowds besetting the church-doors, filling it to suffocation, climbing on the leads, hanging on the rails of the organ-loft, while the steam, from their breath, fell from the pillars, like drops of rain. He resolved to depart, as a Missionary, to Georgia ; when he announced his purpose, and bade the people

farewell, all, high and low, burst into tears. The same effects followed him to London. With marvellous energy, the lad of twenty-two officiated in the Tower chapel, on Sundays; every evening at Wapping, every Tuesday in the prison of Ludgate ; overwhelmed with requests for charity sermons, and obtaining everywhere enormous collections. On his second visit to London, he preached on Wednesday evenings in Bow Church, and administered the sacrament, in one of the city churches, at an early hour on the Sunday morning. He preached often ten times in a week, on one day four times.* Then might be seen, long before day-light, streets filled with people, going to church with lantherns in their hands, conversing on religion ; while the crowd and solemnity at the communion attested the power of his ministry. When Whitefield gave his farewell at St. Dunstan's, in a church crowded to excess, the audience melted into tears, while sobs and groans attested the hold which the stripling had obtained over the hearts of the London citizens. His own sincerity was proved, by his tearing himself from a popularity so intoxicating, in order to take the rough hard work of a Missionary. He went to America in December 1737, and returned at the end of 1738, leaving behind him impressions in America as general and deep, as he had produced in England. The necessity for his taking priest's orders, and the need of

* Life of Whitefield by Philips, p. 44.

collecting for the Orphan House, which he had founded in the Savannah, compelled his return. He found however material changes. The clergy, distanced by his late popularity, began to refuse him their pulpits. On the other hand, he was surrounded by groups of earnest men who valued his ministry. Seventy years before, in the reign of Charles the second, the success of the good Dr. Horneck and the earnestness of Bishop Hopkins had established meetings for mutual prayer. These had existed in the first days of the Reformed Church of England; discouraged by Elizabeth, patronized by Archbishop Abbott, after the Revolution, they were approved by some of the Bishops, and encouraged by Queen Mary; but they had gradually decayed, till, in Whitefield's time, out of forty societies within the Metropolis, three only survived. This remnant, attracted by Whitefield's preaching, and enchanted by his earnestness, drew round him, and entreated him to guide them. On the other side, the crowds who were disappointed of their hope of hearing him, when the church was refused, collected to listen to him in the Churchyard. This suggested to him the idea of preaching in the open air. He began this practice in 1739, in Islington church-yard. He followed it up on a larger scale in Moorfields, to an enormous multitude on Kennington common, and on Blackheath, where a rising ground is still known as Whitefield's mount. His popularity was curiously attested. At Blackheath he

had been used to address multitudes varying in number from ten to twenty thousand. One night a sermon was announced, but the report spread that Whitefield was dead. The heath was deserted. The next night, when it was known he was alive, the heath swarmed. He used to preach in Marylebone fields, then unoccupied by houses, and at Stoke Newington. He revisited Bristol, where the old enthusiasm was revived in his favor: but there, excluded from churches which, one by one, closed their doors against him, he betook him self to the fields : and the colliers of Kingswood, so rude that no one dared approach them, saw this youth rise on a hill, to address them, and heard in silence the strange tidings of Divine mercy. The trees hung with swarthy hearers, the banks were full ; horses, carts, and coaches brought their loads; and, under the spell of the speaker, rich and poor, packed close together, stood entranced, and tears ran down gentle cheeks and channelled the black faces of the

savage

colliers. Whitefield “had many natural advantages.* He

was something above the middle stature, well propor“ tioned, though at that time slender, and remarkable “ for a native gracefulness of manner. His complexion “ was very fair, his features regular, his eyes small and

lively, of a dark blue color, and, on recovering from “ the measles, he had contracted a squint with one of “ hem ; but the peculiarity rather rendered the expres

* Southey's Life of Wesley, Vol. i. p. 150.

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