Tag Archives: George Whitefield

George Whitefield and the Great Awakening Revival

George Whitefield and the Great Awakening Revival

whitefield-preachAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

Seven times he preached in America, to crowds sometimes over 25,000.

He spread the Great Awakening Revival, which helped unite the Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.

Ben Franklin wrote in his Autobiography that his voice could be heard almost a mile away:

“He preached one evening from the top of the Court-house steps… Streets were filled with his hearers…

I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard by retiring backwards down the street…and found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street.”

This was Evangelist George Whitefield. Ben Franklin continued his description:

“Multitudes of all denominations attended his sermons…

It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants.

From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”

Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards, wrote to her brother in New Haven concerning the effects George Whitefield’s ministry:

“It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible…

Our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day laborers throw down their tools to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected.”

George Whitefield had attended Oxford with John and Charles Wesley, who began the Methodist movement.

In 1733, when he was converted, George Whitefield exclaimed:

“Joy-joy unspeakable-joy that’s full of, big with glory!”

When Whitefield confronted the established churches, doors were closed to him, so he resorted to preaching out-of-doors. Crowds grew so large that no church could hold the number of people.

Ben Franklin helped finance the building of an auditorium in Philadelphia for Whitefield to preach in, which was latter donated as the first building of the University of Pennsylvania.

A bronze statue of George Whitefield is on the University’s campus.

The Great Awakening Revival resulted in the founding of Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Rutgers and Columbia Universities.

Franklin printed Whitefield’s journal and sermons, which helped spread his popularity.

In one sermon, George Whitefield proclaimed:

“Never rest until you can say, ‘the Lord our righteousness.’ Who knows but the Lord may have mercy, nay, abundantly pardon you?

Beg of God to give you faith; and if the Lord give you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his all…

None, none can tell, but those happy souls who have experienced it with what demonstration of the Spirit this conviction comes…”

George Whitefield continued:

“Oh, how amiable, as well as all sufficient, does the blessed Jesus now appear! With what new eyes does the soul now see the Lord its righteousness! Brethren, it is unutterable…

Those who live godly in Christ, may not so much be said to live, as Christ to live in them….They are led by the Spirit as a child is led by the hand of its father…

They hear, know, and obey his voice….Being born again in God they habitually live to, and daily walk with God.”

George Whitefield’s influence was so profound, that when there was a threatened war with Spain and France, Ben Franklin drafted and printed a General Fast for Pennsylvania, December 12, 1747:

“As the calamities of a bloody War, in which our Nation is now engaged, seem every Year more nearly to approach us…there is just reason to fear that unless we humble ourselves before the Lord & amend our Ways, we may be chastised with yet heavier Judgments.

We have, therefore, thought fit…to appoint…the seventh Day of January next, to be observed throughout this Province as a Day of Fasting & Prayer, exhorting all…to join with one accord in the most humble & fervent Supplications;

That Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the Rage of War among the Nations & put a stop to the effusion of Christian Blood…”

In 1752, George Whitefield wrote to Benjamin Franklin, who had invented the lightning rod:

“My Dear Doctor….I find that you grow more and more famous in the learned world.”

In 1764, George Whitefield received a letter from Benjamin Franklin, in which Franklin ended with the salutation:

“Your frequently repeated Wishes and Prayers for my Eternal as well as temporal Happiness are very obliging. I can only thank you for them, and offer you mine in return.”

In 1769, George Whitefield wrote Benjamin Franklin on the night before his last trip to America. In this last surviving letter, Whitefield shares his desire that both he and Franklin would:

“Be in that happy number of those who is the midst of the tremendous final blaze shall cry Amen.”

Franklin wrote to George Whitefield:

“I sometimes wish you and I were jointly employed by the Crown to settle a colony on the Ohio…a strong body of religious and industrious people!…

Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders?”

George Whitefield died SEPTEMBER 30, 1770. As he was dying, he declared:

“How willing I would ever live to preach Christ! But I die to be with Him!”

George Whitefield had declared:

“Would you have peace with God? Away, then, to God through Jesus Christ, who has purchased peace; the Lord Jesus has shed his heart’s blood for this.

He died for this; he rose again for this; he ascended into the highest heaven, and is now interceding at the right hand of God.”

Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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295 – Oct 22 – This Day in Baptist History Past



Gone to the Baptists’

Oct. 22, 1795 – Was the day that Baptist historian and pastor, Isaac Backus heard Stephen Parsons preach, according to an entry in Backus’ diary. Parsons, a native of Middletown, Conn., and a member of the Separatist Congregational church in his home town became pastor of the branch that formed in Westfield, Conn. in 1788. However, in 1795, after much study on the subject, Parsons rejected infant baptism and was dismissed from his church.

Parsons was baptized by Elder Abel Palmer, Pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Colchester, Conn. Seven of his former members went with him and they formed a Baptist church in Westfield. Later Parsons became pastor of the Baptist church in Whiteboro, N.Y. The split in the Congregational Church started with the Revivals of George Whitefield. The decadent Congregational churches were inundated with new converts from the Whitefield and other revivals of that era. In time the new, on fire converts left, and started new Congregational churches called “Separates” or “New Lights.”

The new churches however were cut off from the tax revenues for the upkeep of their church buildings and pastors salaries. At this point, absent infant baptism they were only a step away from being Baptists. Coen says it well: ‘Gone to the Baptists’ is a frequent entry in the record books of the Separate churches beside the names of former members who had adopted the principle of believer’s, as opposed to infant’s baptism.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: from This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp.  577 – 78.

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280 – Oct. 07 – This Day in Baptist History Past



He had the finest voice of any public man of his time.”

October 07, 1857 – Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his 23rd year, preached to 23,654 persons by turnstile count, the all-time attendance record, “the greatest crowd ever addressed by a Gospel preacher,” (to that time), in the central transept of the cyclopean Crystal Palace, a building so large that it was “apparently unenclosed for vastness.” The occasion was a fast-day service. Another interesting incident in connection with this…meeting was Spurgeon’s private afternoon acoustical test in the empty building. He lifted his golden voice and cried, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” A workman in a high gallery heard the voice, was smitten with conviction, put down his tools, went home, and after a season of spiritual struggle, found peace and life by beholding the Lamb of God. Spurgeon must have possessed an extraordinary vocal ability during his ministry in London. One historian says, “He had the finest voice of any public man of his time.” We know that George Whitefield also addressed huge crowds in America. “Benjamin Franklin measured the area reached by his voice and declared, ‘I computed that he might well be heard by more than 30,000.’” Spurgeon was called to the New Park Street Church on April 19, 1854. Within a year’s time, it was necessary to secure a larger building. In less than 3 years they had grown by 425%! In Feb. 1855 Exeter Hall was secured, and then they moved on Oct. 19, 1856 to the Royal Surrey Gardens with its three tiers of Galleries that seated 12,000. For three years they averaged over 10,000. That golden voice was silenced in death on Jan. 31, 1892.

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Robinson, Robert

A Christian Champion that backslid

Robert Robinson was born in Norfolk, England, on October 8, 1735. Robert was apprenticed to a craftsman when he was 14 after his father died.

One night, when he was 17, Robert went to one of George Whitefield’s meetings. So far, Robert had always lived a decent life, and thought himself a Christian. That night Whitefield spoke about Sadducees and Pharisees; about platters being clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside. This message shook Robert up, and bothered him for weeks. On December 10, 1755, Robert received Salvation.

After he was saved, many friends thought Robert should preach, and told him so. He was drawn to the ministry, but didn’t think he would be very good at it.

While visiting his family in Norwich in 1758, he noticed that there were many Christians in the area that wanted leadership, but could only get a preacher once in a while. After hearing Robert speak at an evening service of singing and praying, the people asked Robert to become pastor of their church.

At this point in time, Robert was connected to the Established Church of England. His future looked very promising if he would stay with it, and become an Established Church minister.

At a christening ceremony, someone expressed doubt of the benefit of infant baptism. This caused Robert to investigate the Biblicism of infant baptism. He found that Scripture only supports the baptism of believers. In 1759, he left the Norwich church, and joined a Baptist Church. Two years later, he was ordained, and became the pastor of the Baptist church in Cambridge. Besides pastoring the Cambridge church, he also preached at churches in the surrounding countryside. Despite his very busy schedule, he still found time to write, and there were very few years he did not publish something.

One publication he is well known for is the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” A history of Baptists was something he worked on for many years. It was published after his death in two volumes: Ecclesiastical Researches and History of Baptism.

Later in life, he endured several private sorrows, and became friends with skeptical people, which led to his wandering into sin. Feeling troubled in spirit, he decided to travel. On one of his journeys, he met a young woman who began telling him about a hymn she had been reading, and questioning him about it. Realizing it was a hymn he wrote, he tried to evade her, but was unsuccessful. Finally, he broke into tears and told her he had written the song, and he would give anything to feel the joy he had felt when he wrote it. Surprised, the woman reassured him that God’s streams of mercy still flowed. Robert was touched, and turned back to the Lord.

Robert Robinson died on June 8, 1790 at the age of 55

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149 – May – 29 – This Day in Baptist History Past


John, Gano


A Hostile Investigation Produced an Ordination


John Gano professed conversion to Christ at a young age and was strongly inclined to unite with the Presbyterian Church; but doubting the scriptural authority for infant baptism, he entered into an elaborate investigation of the subject. He became convinced of Baptist principles. He soon received permission from his father to be baptized and unite with the Baptist church at Hopewell, New Jersey.


Soon Gano became much exercised in mind about preaching Christ to dying sinners. One morning while plowing, the words, “Warn the people, or their blood will I require at your hands,” came to him with such force that he became insensible to his work. Soon, after applying himself to study for the call, and before he was licensed to preach, he accompanied David Thomas and Benjamin Miller on a missionary tour of Virginia. Their principal mission was to set in order a small church on Opecon Creek which was in a deplorable condition. The church had only three members able to give an account of their conversion. On this occasion Gano exhorted the people. Upon returning home, his church called him to account for preaching without license but before proceeding to condemn him, they requested that he preach to them. His preaching so favorably impressed the congregation that they called for his ordination which took place on May 29, 1754.


Sometime later he was sent south as a missionary and came to Charleston, South Carolina, where he preached for Mr. Oliver Hart. In his journal Gano wrote of the service: “When I arose to speak, the sight of so brilliant an audience, among whom were twelve ministers and one of whom was Mr. George Whitefield, for a moment brought the fear of man upon me; but, blessed be the Lord! I was soon relieved of this embarrassment. The thought passed my mind, I had none to fear and obey but the Lord.”


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 219 -220.


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Andrew Gifford


He endured to the end


1737 – BAPTIST PASTOR TESTIFIES OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST AT THE TIME OF DEATH IN LATE 18TH CENTURY ENGLAND – Pastor Andrew Gifford and his congregation dedicated a new facility in Eagle Street, Red Lion Square London on February 20, 1737.  He had served as an assistant pastor in both Nottingham and Bristol before becoming pastor of the Little Wild Street Church in London on Feb. 5, 1729.  Because of difficulty a majority of the members left in 1736 which led to the new church edifice mentioned above.  Andrew was born into a godly home in Bristol, England, August 17, 1700.  His father, Emmanuel Gifford, had suffered much difficulty because of his dissenting principles, and his grandfather had been imprisoned four times because of his biblical faith.  Andrew received Christ and was immersed at 15.  Pastor Gifford served the flock on Red Lion Square for nearly 50 years and the building had to be enlarged twice to accommodate the crowds.  Gifford was recognized for his knowledge of ancient manuscripts and coins.  His own collection of rare coins was the most valuable in Great Britain and King George II purchased it for his own.  In 1754 he received the Doctor of Divinity Degree from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in 1757 he was appointed assistant librarian of the British Museum.  He was a warm friend of George Whitefield and preached for him many times.  Three days before he died, he said, “I am in great pain, but, bless God, this is not hell! O, blessed be God for Jesus Christ!”  When the end was near, he whispered, “O, what should I do now, if it were not for Jesus Christ!” What should I do now, if it were not for an interest in Jesus?” He died on a Saturday morning, June 19, 1784, and was buried in Bunhill, July 2, at 6 am. John Ryland brought the message.  There were 200 ministers and a vast crowd present.  He bequeathed his library and manuscripts to the Bristol Baptist College.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 70.


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Stearns, Shubael


He was the leader of the Separates


1745 – THE SEPARATE BAPTISTS WERE FOUNDED BY SHUBAL STEARNS WHO WAS A CONVERT OF GEORGE WHITEFIELD Shubal Stearns was born on January 28, 1706. In 1745 he joined the ‘New Lights’ and preached as a ‘New Light Congregationalist’. He was a convert of George Whitefield the English Anglican Evangelist. Many of his converts became Baptists as they began to study the scriptures and became convinced of believer’s baptism by water immersion. Stearns was one who became the leader of the Separate Baptists; Isaac Backus was another, he became known as “The Apostle of Liberty”, and Daniel Marshall was the other who became the founder of the Baptist effort in Georgia. Shubal was baptized in 1751 and ordained on May 20. In 1755 he moved to Sandy Creek, N.C. where he organized a Baptist church and saw a great out pouring of God’s Spirit and in a short time they had over six hundred members. His assistants were his brother-in-law Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed. Shubal traveled continually and they not only saw the lost saved but a host of young men called to preach. Some of them were John Dillahunty, Philip Mulkey, Joseph and William Murphy, James Read, Nathaniel Power, and James Turner. Churches flourished in Virginia and the Carolinas and the Sandy Creek Association was formed. Stearns was lovingly revered as the “Old Father.” He died on Nov. 20, 1771.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from:  Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/   pg. 37.


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Blest be the tie that binds…”


1740 – John Fawcett was born, who later became the pastor of the Baptist Church at Wainsgate, England. He had been converted under the preaching of George Whitefield. At age 19 he had been baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Bradford. His ordination took place in 1765, when he became the pastor at Wainesgate. Six years later Dr. John Gill died, leaving the famed Baptist church at Southwark, London, without a pastor. Fawcett was offered the position, but upon news of their leaving Wainesgate, the congregation was filled with grief. In those days it was rare for a pastor to move, and he would live and die among the people that he served in the gospel. When the fateful day came, a van was sent from London to remove their belongings. Tearful men and women stood around and watched them carry the pastor’s things to the van. Mrs. Fawcett went back into the home weeping, and said to her husband, “I know not how to go.” He replied, “Neither do I.” At that they ordered the things to be taken off the van and placed back in the house. After the moving men and the good people had left them alone, John Fawcett sat down and wrote the beloved hymn: “Blest be the tie that binds, Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds; Is like to that above.” In later years he became a Dr. of Divinity and was invited to be the Principal of Bristol College, but he died as he had lived, among his own people. King George III having read some of his writings contacted to ask him if he could do anything for him, which he declined. Later his influence with the King was used to save a man from being executed, and several others from heavy legal penalties.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 08-09.


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318 – Nov. 14 – This Day in Baptist History Past


The gospel invades the South


1755 – A small group of Baptists, including Shubal Stearns, his brother-in-law Daniel Marshall, and Joseph Breed invaded the South with the gospel. Until that time little progress had been made by the Regular Baptists but God used these men to change the spiritual climate in that entire territory. The little group totaled sixteen when they arrived at Sandy Creek, North Carolina, but in one year’s time they had 606 members. Almost beyond belief, the Sandy Creek Baptist Church in seventeen years spawned forty-two churches and produced 125 preachers. Stearns was born in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 28, 1706. He had been a Presbyterian but in 1745, through the preaching of George Whitefield, Stearns joined with that group called the “New Lights” or “Separatists.”  Though his education was limited he gave himself to reading extensively and became convinced of believer’s baptism and left the pedobaptists, and on May 20, 1751 was baptized by Rev. Wait Palmer, a Baptist pastor in Tolland, Conn. Several months later he was ordained and began to travel and preach. He moved to Berkeley County, Virginia, in 1754 but was not satisfied with the results when he was invited to come to N.C. In 1758 Rev. Stearns visited the nine Baptist churches that had already been founded, and he invited each church to send messengers to form an association of churches which resulted in the Sandy Creek Association coming into existence for the purpose of preaching, singing and reporting as to what God was doing throughout the area. Revival often fell. After 12 years there were 3 associations in N.C., S.C. and VA. [George W. Purefoy, A History of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association (New York: Sheldon and Co., 18590, pp. 292-93. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 622-24.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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314 – Nov. 10 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Why America became a Republic


1745 – Isaac Backus and others were excommunicated from the Congregational church at Norwich, Connecticut. The name of Isaac Backus is one of the brightest lights in Baptist history. He was born on Jan. 9, 1724 in Norwich. He grew up during the time of the Great Awakening under George Whitefield and other lesser-known men. In Nov. of 1741 a revival broke out in his home town, and Backus received full assurance of salvation. Many in the Congregational state churches did not look with favor on evangelism and these converts were called “New Lights.” However, wanting to receive communion, after 11 months, Backus finally united with the church. Starving spiritually, these “New Lights” in the congregation began meeting together for fellowship and Bible study. This division is what led to the impasse that caused the church to excommunicate them. The converts of the Great Awakening started Separate churches. Backus, called to preach and ordained, was quite at home in this movement and carried on an itinerant ministry for fourteen months until he took a church at Titicut, Mass. It was there that he became convinced of believer’s immersion, and on Aug. 22, 1751, he and six fellow church members were immersed on profession of their faith. At that point Backus formed a Baptist church and served for almost sixty years as evangelist, pastor, author and fighter for religious liberty in early America. It is estimated that he traveled over 67,000 miles and preached nearly 10,000 sermons. Backus was one of the main reasons that America adopted a constitutional Republic over Calvin’s “Geneva Theocracy” model. [B.L. Shelly, Dictionary of Baptists in America (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 36. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 614-15.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon



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