As a proof of the power of Mr. Whitefield’s preaching…
…the famed Newton mentions, that a soldier at Glasgow, who had heard him preach, laid a wager with another, that at a certain charity sermon, –though he went with prejudice, he would certainly leave be compelled to give something. The other soldier, to make sure that he would win the bet, took all the money out of his pockets before he went in. But, before he left the church, this conscience stricken soldier was glad to borrow some for the offering, and lose his bet.
In another story, Newton tells of another striking example of Mr. Whitefield’s persuasive oratory, and that is his collecting at one sermon six hundred pounds for the inhabitants of an obscure village that had been burned down in Germany. After which sermon, Mr. Whitefield said, “We shall sing a hymn, during which those who do not choose to give their mite on this awful occasion, may sneak off.” Not one person moved; he got down from the pulpit, ordered all the doors to be shut but one, at which he held the plate himself, and collected the above large sum.
At the time of Whitefield’s greatest persecution, when obliged to preach in the streets, in one week he received not fewer than a thousand letters from persons distressed in their consciences by the energy of his preaching.
An extraordinary attestation to the excellence of Mr. Whitefield, as a preacher, was furnished by Hume, the historian, well-known for his infidelity. An intimate friend asked him what he thought of Mr. Whitefield’s preaching. “He is, sir,” said Mr. Hume, “the most ingenious preacher I ever heard: it is worth-while to go twenty miles to hear him.” He then repeated the following passage, which occurred towards the close of the discourse he had been hearing:
“After a solemn pause, Mr. Whitefield thus addressed his numerous audience:–‘The attendant angel is just about to leave the threshold, and ascend to heaven. And shall he ascend, and not bear with him the news of one sinner, among alt this multitude, reclaimed from the error of his ways?’ To give the greater effect to this exclamation he stamped with his foot, lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, and with gushing tears, cried aloud, ‘Stop, Gabriel! Stop, Gabriel! Stop, ere you enter the sacred portals, and yet carry with you the news of one sinner converted to God.’ He then, in the most simple, but energetic language, described what he called a Savior’s dying love to sinful man, so that almost the whole assembly melted into tears. This address was accompanied with such animated, yet natural action, that it surpassed any thing I ever saw or heard in any other preacher.”
Happy had it been for Mr. Hume, if, in addition to his admiration of the preacher, he had received the doctrine which he taught, and afforded an instance of that conversion to God which Mr. Whitefield so ardently longed for on behalf of his hearers.
Taken and adapted from, “Golden Sheaves”
Written by Horace A. Cleveland
Published in 1869