Sermons of George Whitefield
“Have we read of any person since the Apostles, who testified the gospel of the grace of God through so widely extended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world? Have we read or heard of any person who called so many thousands, so many myriads, of sinners to repentance?”
“Above all, have we read or heard of any who has been a blessed instrument in His hand of bringing so many sinners from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God?” — John Wesley, in his funeral sermon for George Whitefield, 1770
Revivalist and preacher George Whitefield met John and Charles Wesley in the 1730s at Oxford University meetings of young men aspiring to walk with God, known as “The Holy Club”, through which he was converted to Christ in 1735. Whitefield was ordained in 1736 when he completed his Oxford degree.
Preacher on both sides of the Atlantic
The first of his many trips to America came in 1738, when he spent a short time in Georgia in the mission post vacated by John Wesley. Returning to England, Whitefield found that his connection with the Wesleys and the evangelical character of his preaching had erased his popularity with Church of England clerics.
Excluded from their pulpits, Whitefield began a series of open-air meetings in Bristol. He was soon preaching to tens of thousands of people in the fields around London. He persuaded John Wesley to carry on the work, and he returned to America, where he was an influential figure in the Great Awakening.
Whitefield was an astounding preacher from the beginning. It was said that “his voice startled England like a trumpet blast.” His messages were gospel-focused, simple and clear, bold, descriptive, earnest, and filled with pathos and emotion. Some calculate that he preached more than 18,000 sermons. But fewer than 90 of those have survived in written form.
Among those, most notable are:
“The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent” (Genesis 3:15)
“Walking with God” (Genesis 5:24)
“Christ, the Believer’s Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30)
“The Potter and the Clay” (Jeremiah 8:1-6)
“The Temptation of Christ” (Matthew 4:1-11)
“Christ the Believer’s Husband” (Isaiah 44:5)
“The Benefits of an Early Piety” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
“The Great Duty of Family Religion” (Joshua 24:15)
“The Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6)
“What Think Ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42)
— each of which are included in this volume, along with many others.
Whitefield (1714–1770) was a dynamic English preacher who spent a number of years in America at the invitation of John and Charles Wesley. In his very first sermon, in his hometown, he preached with such fervor that a complaint was made to the bishop that he had driven fifteen people mad. Others may have been more learned, but none were more eloquent or more moving.
J. C. Ryle claimed, “No preacher has ever retained his hold on his hearers so entirely as he did for 34 years.”