Dluxe's World

Friday, April 25

Favorite Posts [6] : Whitefield for the Weekends

I once heard someone (Piper? Dever?) admonish budding pastors to makes friends with a dead theologian and walk through the rest of their lives with him. Certainly Piper has cultivated a deep identification with Jonathan Edwards, and Dever's doctoral thesis is still the most about Richard Sibbes available in print.

About the time I heard this admonition, I came across the following quote regarding George Whitefield from J.C. Ryle's biographic article:
On the morning of Saturday, September 28th, the day before he died, Whitefield set out on horseback from Portsmouth in New Hampshire, in order to fulfill an engagement to preach at Newbury Port on Sunday. On the way, unfortunately, he was earnestly importuned to preach at a place called Exeter, and though feeling very ill, he had not the heart to refuse.

A friend remarked before he preached that he looked more uneasy than usual, and said to him, "Sir, you are more fit to go to bed than to preach." To this Whitefield replied: "True, sir"; and then turning aside, he clasped his hands together, and looking up, said: "Lord Jesus, I am weary in thy work, but not of thy work. If I have not yet finished my course, let me go and speak for thee once more in the fields, seal thy truth, and come home and die." He then went and preached to a very great multitude in the fields ... for the space of nearly two hours. It was his last sermon, and a fitting conclusion to his whole career.

After the sermon was over, Whitefield dined with a friend, and then rode on to Newbury Port, though greatly fatigued. On arriving there he supped early, and retired to bed. Tradition says, that as he went up-stairs, with a lighted candle in his hand, he could not resist the inclination to turn around at the head of the stair, and speak to the friends who were assembled to meet him. As he spoke the fire kindled within him, and before he could conclude, the candle which he held in has hand had actually burned down to the socket. He retired to his bedroom, to come out no more alive... If ever man was ready for his change, Whitefield was that man.

I wanted to know that man and that heart. And so, Whitefield has been a companion and inspiration for me ever since.

Because Whitefield preached open-air and (mainly) extemporaneously, most of his sermons in print are from early in his ministry. But even in his youth, Whitefield was a powerful thinker and preacher. My own favorite quote - if I had to choose only one would be this from a sermon called The Righteousness of Christ:
[A]rise, take comfort, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of life, the Lord of glory, calls for thee: through his righteousness there is hope for the chief of sinners, for the worst of creatures. What if thou hadst committed all the sins in the world? … Christ's righteousness will cover, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will cleanse, thee from the guilt of them all.

My dear friends, could my voice hold out, was my strength equal to my will, I would wrestle with you; I would strive with arguments, till you came and washed in this blood of the Lamb; till you came and accepted of this everlasting righteousness. O come, come! Now, since it is brought into the world by Christ, so in the name, in the strength, and by the assistance of the great God, I bring it now to the pulpit; I now offer this righteousness, this free, this imputed, this everlasting righteousness to all poor sinners that will accept of it.

For God's sake accept it this night: you do not know but ye may die before tomorrow. How do he know, but while I am speaking, a fit of the apoplexy may seize, and death arrest you? ... Think, I pray you, therefore, on these things; go home, go home, go home, pray over the text, and say, "Lord God, thou hast brought an everlasting righteousness into the world by the Lord Jesus Christ; by the blessed Spirit bring it into my heart!" then, die when ye will, ye are safe; if it be tomorrow, ye shall be immediately translated into the presence of the everlasting God: that will be sweet! Happy they who have got this robe on; happy they that can say, "My God hath loved me, and I shall be loved by him with an everlasting love!" That every one of you may be able to say so, may God grant, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the dear Redeemer; to whom be glory for ever.

Arnold Dallimore, in his superior biography of Whitefield, writes:
Yea, that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they shall appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.

Indeed. May God raise up more Whitefields to preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, aglow in the fullness of the Gospel. I know this is my longest 'favorites' post, but it's not long enough to reflect on a man whose ministry touched so many and has already effected me profoundly.

Whitefield for the Weekend Posts
[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28]

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