Tag Archives: 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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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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288 – Oct-15 – This Day in Baptist History Past


The power of Whitefield tormented him


1770 – Benjamin Randall was saved. He was born on Feb. 7, 1741, in the township of New Castle, New Hampshire. His father was a sea captain and young Benjamin pursued that way of life until he was eighteen. He was raised a Congregationalist and in 1770 had been privileged to hear George Whitefield during his last tour of America. He opposed the great English preacher but was drawn back to the services. He said later that, “The power with which he spoke was a torment to me.” Furthermore he determined to hear him preach one more time but before he could hear him Whitefield had died. The announcement pierced his heart with conviction and he confessed later to thinking, “Whitefield is now in heaven and I am on the road to hell.” This led him to Heb. 9:26 – “But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” That truth led him to salvation. The birth of his third child led him to consider infant baptism and realized that he could not bow to that doctrine, but concluded that he needed to be immersed himself and was baptized into the Baptist church of Berwick, Maine. He began preaching, rejected Calvinism, espoused universal atonement, universal grace, and a universal call of the gospel. But he did not preach “universalism,” which claims automatic salvation to all men. He also came to the Baptist conviction that no tie should exist between state and church. Mr. Randall created a circuit of preaching meetings in N.H., Vermont, and Maine that gave shape to the growing Freewill tradition. He pastored his church in Durham, N.H. until he died Oct. 22, 1808. [William Henry Brackney, The Baptists (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), p. 248. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 564-66.]               Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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The issue was a regenerated church membership

One of the main results of the Great Awakening was the fact that it produced approximately 100 separate Congregational churches that left the Congregational Denomination, known as “New Lights” over a period of twenty years.  The issue was a regenerated church membership, in that the Congregationalists had fallen into the apostasy of infant baptism.  Estimates were that as many as fifty thousand were saved, either directly under Whitefield’s preaching or revivals  spawned by others that were influenced by him.  Out of this group of churches fourteen went further, were publicly immersed and became Separate Baptist Pastors.  Two of these were Isaac Backus at Bridgewater, MA on April 13, 1748, who became the great Baptist historian and Shubal Stearns at, Tolland, MA, on March 20, 1751, who became the pastor of the famed Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Sandy Creek, N.C., that launched the Baptist churches of the south.  There were two primary reasons why these Separates became Baptists.  First, Separates had become Biblicists.  The Bible had become their only rule of faith and practice.  Therefore infant baptism could not be defended scripturally.  The second was for economic reasons, Baptists could claim the Toleration Act, and be excused from supporting the State Congregational Church.  However Quakers were excused too but few became Quakers.  It was the Baptists that became the stimulus for the ongoing of the Great Awakening as it moved southward.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from:  This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 110 – 112. 


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“They “were sprung from the seed which he (Whitefield) first planted”
 December 21, 1764 – Rev. James Reed, a clergyman from the Church of England, living in Virginia, reveals how George Whitefield’s preaching helped the Baptists and what his views were about believer’s baptism. Rev. Reed said that Whitefield had affirmed that they “were sprung from the seed which he first planted in New England and the difference of soil may have perhaps have caused such an alteration in the fruit that he may be ashamed of it. He particularly condemned the re-baptizing of adults and the doctrine of the irresistible influence of the Spirit, for both which the late Methodists in these parts had strongly contended, and likewise recommended infant baptism, and declared himself a minister of the Church of England. Whitefield was clearly a pedobaptist and a state-church preacher, even though he insisted on the new-birth. The great revivals that sprang up from the preaching of Whitefield produced the Separate Congregationalists from which God raised up some of our most effective and powerful leaders. Among those were Shubal Stearns and his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall. They migrated through Virginia and N.C. and along with many other Separates became persuaded of Baptist principles including believers baptism. This was the origin of the name “Separate Baptists” and their zeal and success in evangelizing and their uncompromising stand on believers baptism was to the consternation of the Episcopalians and Methodists. When men receive the “new Light” of the Holy Spirit they are far more likely to receive believers baptism and to gather with the ducks rather than the chickens.” For “birds of a feather flock together.”

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His motto: “First pure, then peaceable.”
 December 18, 1853 – Charles H. Spurgeon first stood in the pulpit of the Baptist Chapel of New Park Street on a cold dull morning. His ministry began during a general spiritual decline in England. The evangelical churches had not escaped the tendencies of the times. The work of Whitefield and Wesley was admired, but little followed. The cutting edge of biblical truth had been gradually dulled. The prevailing attitude seemed to be that a more refined and intellectual presentation of the gospel was needed in the Victorian Era. This spirit had also affected New Park Street Chapel, situated in a dim and dirty region close to the South bank of the Thames River. It had a great history stretching back into the 17th century. For some years it had been in a state of decline, and the large ornate building which would seat a 1,000 was only ¾ filled. This was the scene facing the 19 year old pastor on his first morning before his people. He thundered, “You think that because a thing is ancient, therefore it must be venerable. You are lovers of the antique. You would not have a road mended, because your grandfather drove his wagon along the rut that is there. “Let it always be there,” you say; “Let it always be knee deep. Did not your grandfather go through it when it was knee deep in mud, and why should you not do the same? It was good enough for him, and it is good enough for you…You have never seen revival. You do not want to see it. Saw it they did. In 1866, morning and evening at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, morning and evening the congregation exceeded 10,000. Spurgeon never forsook his fundamental principles. When he departed from the Baptist Union he identified it as an “inadequate faith in the inspiration of the scriptures.” His motto: “First pure, then peaceable.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 528-29.

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November 20, 1771 – Shubal Stearns died. It had only been 20 years since he had embraced Baptist principles and moved South from Boston where he had been influenced by the preaching of George Whitefield. He had labored among the “Separates” or “New Lights” as they were called then. So many of the Separates became Baptists that on occasion, Whitefield spoke against “rebaptism” of adults and argued for pedobaptism and in order to make it plain that the Baptists did not belong to his flock, he stated that many of his “chickens had become ducks.” Stearns left New England and stopped off at Opeckon, Berckley County, Virginia on his way to Sandy Creek, North Carolina in Guilford County. It was there under the pastoral care of John Garrard and Daniel Marshall, who would become Stearns Brother-in-law that he would become a Baptist. Because of restlessness and Indian raids, Stearns and a party of sixteen settled at Sandy Creek where they built a little meetinghouse shortly after arriving, and organized a Separate Baptist church with Shubal Stearns as pastor and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as his assistants. The church soon expanded to 606 and began to expand into three other states. James Read, Samuel Harriss and Dutton Lane had great success in Virginia. Daniel Marshall traveled further south and planted churches in S.C., and Georgia and the Kiokee Baptist Church across the Savannah River, which was the first Baptist church of that state. Besides the home church, Stearns travelled a considerable distance in the country around, to assist in organizing and regulating the churches which he and his associates were instrumental in raising up. The spread of the gospel went forward in spite of the French and Indian War and the vast wilderness.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson /, pp. 483-85.

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