From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

George Whitefield For Christmas?

George Whitefield (pronounced Whit-field) was an itinerant Anglican preacher and evangelist of the mid 18th century; a contemporary and acquaintance of Jonathan Edwards; one of the leaders of the Great Awakening of 1740. Whitefield was famous in his day both for his preaching and his style. He was one of the first to preach the gospel to slaves in America and Britain, one of the first to preach in the open air to huge crowds numbering in the tens of thousands. It was said his voice could be heard a mile away. Ben Franklin was skeptical about that claim, but when he attended a revival meeting in Philadelphia he was greatly impressed with Whitefield’s ability to deliver a message to such a large audience. When listening to Whitefield preaching from the Philadelphia court house, Franklin walked away towards his shop in Market Street until he could no longer hear Whitefield distinctly. He then estimated his distance from Whitefield and calculated the area of a semi-circle centred on Whitefield. Allowing two square feet per person he realized that Whitefield really could be heard by tens of thousands of people in the open air.

I’ve been interested in Whitefield, especially in how his Calvinism worked to make him such an effective speaker and evangelist. Now, I see on the Monergism website, there’s a daily devotional book of Whitefields sermons, letters, talks, etc. Looks to be an interesting read, and a way to get introduced to the great preacher. Might make a fine Christmas gift to some geezer preacher too!


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