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health was greatly increased, soon after his return from Scotland. From Edinburgh, he writes, August 19 and 24 :-“For these four months past
, I have been brought so exceedingly low in my body, that I was in hopes every sermon I preached would waft me to my wished for home. Scotland, I hoped would finish my warfare; but it has rather driven me back to sea again. On Tuesday next, I thought to have moved; but as it is race-week, and my health is improving, friends advise me to stay, to stir them up to run with patience the race that is set before us." The following account appeared in the Glasgow Courant.
“Edinburgh, September 14, 1758. Mr. Whitefield's presence, at this time, has been particularly useful to the Orphan-hospital, for which upwards of two hundred pounds has been raised from the collection at the doors, and seat rents. Before he left Glasgow, he made a collection for the Glasgow Charitable Highland Society, for supporting the highland children; a scheme particularly useful at this time, when so many of their parents and friends are abroad in America, in his majesty's service. During his stay here, he has had occasion to preach three thanksgiving sermons, for the victory of Crevelt, the taking of Cape Breton, and the late defeat of ihe Russians. By his warm and repeated exhortations to loyalty, and a steady adherence to the Protestant interest on this and all other occasions, it must be acknowledged, even in this view, his visit here has been useful to the community in a civil, as well as a religious light."
Having left Edinburgh, he preached with his usual abundant liberty and success in most of the principal towns, in the north of England; and about the end of October, arrived in London. His affairs in America being in a prosperous state, he now began to think of going over to Georgia again. “Blessed be God,” says he, “ that I can send you word, a never failing Providence has put it in my power to pay off all Bethesda's arrears. I am talking every day of coming over ; but how to do it in war time, or how to get the chapel and Tabernacle supplied, I cannot, as yet, be clear in.”
Not being able, it seems to get over these difficulties, he spent the winter of 1758, in London; and opened his spring campaign at Bristol. The month of June he spent preaching through Gloucestershire and Yorkshire; people of all ranks and distinctions every where flocked, as usual, twice a day, to hear him, and from thence revisited Scotland.
From his arrival at Edinburgh, 1759, to his opening the Countess of
Huntingdon's chapel at Bath, 1765. About the beginning of July, 1759, he came to Edinburgh. The congregations were never more numerous or attentive than here and at Glasgow. Yet, he complains in his letters, “that with respect to the power of religion, it was a dead time in Scotland, in comparison with London, and several other parts of England.” During his stay, the sum he collected for the benefit of the Orphan-hospital, amounted to two hundred and fifteen pounds. This year's visit to Scotland occasioned an occurrence which redounded much to his credit, and fully cleared him from the charges of mercenary and sordid motives, brought against him very unjustly by some of his adversaries.
A Miss Hunter, a young lady of considerable fortune, made him an offer of her whole estate, both money and lands, amounting to above seven thousand pounds, which he generously refused : and upon his declining to accept it for himself, she again offered it for the benefit of the institution in Georgia, which he also absolutely refused. These are facts too well known to be denied.
This winter he continued in London ; during which, he wrote a preface to Dr. Samuel Clarke's bible. He also considerably enlarged his chapel, which was far too small to contain the congregation.
On the 14th of March, 1760, he collected at Tottenham court chapel and Tabernacle, upwards of four hundred pounds for the relief of the distressed Prussians, who suffered so much from the savage cruelty of the Russians, at Newmark, Custrin, &c. For this disinterested act of benevolence, he received the thanks of his Prussian majesty.
In the summer of 1760, he traveled through Gloucestershire and Wales, and afterwards to Bristol. When he preached at the Tabernacle, many more attended than the place would hold; and in the fields there were supposed to be TEN THOUSAND.
About this time, he underwent a new sort of persecution, which however, men of the greatest eminence have sometimes experienced, being burlesqued and ridiculed in a manner the most ludicrous and profane, on the stage of the theater royal, Drury lane. Many acts of violence had been offered to his person, but his enemies being now convinced that the law would not permit them longer to proceed in that way with impunity, determined to try the effect of mockery. For this purpose, they procured for their tool, Mr. Samuel Foote, a man
well qualified to act the mimic; who having imitated Whitefield's person and action with success, and spoke some ludicrous sentences in his manner, was thereby encouraged to write a farce, called the MINOR, to be performed at Drury lane. Whitefield takes notice of this in a letter, dated August 16, 1760. It seems to have taken its rise from the malice of the play house people, after they had failed in their attempt to deter him from preaching at Long Acre chapel; and even still more exasperated by his building a chapel of his own in Tottenham court road. A letter was written to David Garrick, Esq., occasioned by the intended representation of the MINOR. This letter was supposed to have been written by the Rev. Martin Madan.
This theatrical piece, by its horrid blasphemy and impiety, excited the just indignation of every serious person. The impious author, intending to expose Mr. Whitefield to public contempt, makes no scruple to treat the very expressions, and sacred doctrines of the Bible, with that profane ridicule, which a sober minded Mahomedan would blush at ! Or, to put the most favorable construction upon the matter, he, and the agents employed at the Tabernacle and chapel, to procure materials, were so shamefully ignorant of the inspired writings, as not to know, that what they took for Mr. Whitefield's peculiar language, was that of the word of God! However, they lost their labor; for by their endeavors to lessen the number of his followers, they increased them, and brought thousands more to hear the gospel : and thus Providence gave him the victory over them, baffling all the schemes of the prince of darkness !
Here it will not be amiss to insert the following account from Edinburgh :-“Mr. Foote* being manager of the Edinburgh theater, in the winter of 1770, the MINOR was acted there. The first night it was pretty full
, as people fond of any novelty, were led to it without knowing any thing of the nature of the performance. But such was the public sense of the impurity and indecency of it, when known, that on the second night, only ten women appeared. When it was acted on Saturday, November 24, a dispute arose among the spectators, whether it was proper to bring Mr. Whitefield upon the stage, as he was now dead? This, however, was done, and raised a general indignation in the inhabitants of that city. Next day several
* One evening while Foote was exhibiting Whitefield to public ridicule, in the theater of Drury lane, the venerable man himself was engaged in preaching at Tottenham court chapel. His subject was, "the joys of Heaven." Towards the close of his discourse, when his piety, his imagination, and his eloquence were on fire, he cried out in the midst of a melted and enraptured assembly, pointing to the heavens, "there, there, an ungodly foot tramples on the saints no more."
ministers, the Rev. Dr. Erskine, Dr. Walker, &c., took notice of it in their discourses from the pulpit. Dr. Walker, whose church was frequented by people of the higher rank, observed in his lecture upon 2 Cor. v. 14-21, that he could not read the 17th verse, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, without expressing the just indignation he felt, upon hearing, that last night a profane piece of buffoonry was publicly acted, in which this sacred doctrine is ridiculed. The Rev. Mr. Baine, of the kirk of relief, preached a sermon on the occasion, December 2, from Psalm xciv. 16. Towards the conclusion he says, “ how base and ungrateful is such treatment of the dead! and that too so very nigh to a family of orphans, the records of whose hospital will transmit Mr. Whitefield's name to posterity with honor, when the memory of others will rot! How illiberal such usage of one, whose seasonable good services for his king and country, are well known; and whose indefatigable labors for his beloved Master, were countenanced by heaven !"
May 14, 1760, he preached at Tottenham court chapel, from Hosea xi. 8, 9, and at the Tabernacle in the evening, when his text was the last verse of the 80th Psalm. At the former place, he collected two hundred and twenty-two pounds, eight shillings, and ninepence; and at the latter, one hundred and eightytwo pounds, fifteen shillings, and ninepence, for the distressed Protestants in Prussia. Thus it appears that his benevolent disposition led him strictly to observe public occurrences : and surely no man more carefully endeavored to approve them.
The months of September and October, 1760, he spent in traveling and preaching through Yorkshire; and passed the winter in London, in his usual manner.
February 13, 1761, being a day appointed for a general fast, he preached early in the morning at the Tabernacle, from Exodus xxxiv. 3, and collected one hundred and twelve pounds. In the forenoon again, at the chapel, from Joel ii. 15. After sermon, the collection amounted to two hundred and forty-two pounds; and in the evening he preached at the Tabernacle, from Genesis vii. 1, and collected two hundred and ten pounds. These sums, amounting to five hundred and sixty-four pounds, were immediately applied to the noble purposes for which they were collected, the relief of the poor afflicted German Protestants, and the unhappy sufferers by fire at Boston. Four hundred pounds were conveyed to the Germans, through the hands of the Rev. Mr. Ziegenhagen.
“Boston, February 27, 1764. At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Boston, on Friday last, it was VOTED UNANIMOUSLY, that the thanks of the town be given to the Rev. George Whitefield, for his charitable care and pains
in collecting a considerable sum of money in Great Britain, for the distressed sufferers by the great fire in Boston, in 1760; and a respectable committee was appointed to wait on Mr. Whitefield, to inform him of the vote, and present him with a copy thereof."
But his bodily health, which had often been very bad, now grew worse and worse; so that, in August, 1761, he was brought to the very gates ; yet the Lord was pleased to raise him again. It was happy for him, that he frequently obtained the assistance of clergymen from the country at this time; particularly of the Rev. John Berridge, * vicar of Everton, Bed
* This eminently humble, laborious, and highly honored ambassador of the Lord Jesus, was born in 1716, at Kingston, in Nottinghamshire. In the fifteenth year of his age he was convinced of the sinfulness of man, and the necessity of being born again, not of the will of man, or of the will of the flesh, but of God.
He was sent to the University of Cambridge in the nineteenth year of his age, and in 1749, began his ministry, at Stapleford, Dear Cambridge; where he preached regularly six years with zeal and faithfulness, but with little success. In 1755 he was admitted to the vicarage of Everton, in Bedfordshire; where he continued till his death.
From his own memorandums, found among his papers since his decease, it appears he was a stranger to that faith which purifies, works by love, and makes Christ all in all to the believing soul, till the year 1757; and therefore went about preaching up the righteousness of the creature, instead of the merits and righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, for acceptance with God. This made it no wonder that his ministrations were no more blessed to the souls of others than to his own. In the following year it pleased the Lord of his infinite mercy to open the eyes of his mind, to see his error, and make him cry out, Lord, if I am right, keep me so; but if I am not, make me so; and lead me to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.”
A few days after this, his earnest and constant prayer was granted; he was led by the blessed spirit to acknowledge the insufficiency of good works to merit the divine favor, and accordingly renounced them, as unworthy of dependence, and in no wise meritorious in the sight of God. He was taught the necessity of believing in the Redeemer alone for life and salvation, and joyfully received and depended on him as the only Savior from the wrath to come; agreeably to the declaration of an inspired apostle, Acts iv. 12. “Neither is salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."
From this time he truly found his preaching was not in vain in the Lord; for he had many bright and eminent seals added to his ministry, which were his joy in life, and shall doubtless be his crown of rejoicing when time shall be no more. Among these was the Rev. Mr. Hicks, a clergyman of Wrestlingworth, about four miles from Everton, who became a very useful man, and often accompanied him in his itinerant labors from place to place.
Having so good a Master, he entered upon his work with cheerful steps, and pursued it with the greatest industry. Emboldened by the success of Whitefield, he saw it to be his duty to itinerate, or to extend the sphere of his usefulness by becoming a traveling preacher. He did not confine his labors to the narrow limits of Everton, but, like the majestic sun, illuminated an extensive tract of country. His love to mankind was ardent; he knew the worth of an immortal soul; he knew the awful terrors of the Lord; he knew the emptiness of the present world; he knew the sandy foundation upon which thousands build; he knew the dangerous devices of Satan; he knew the awful precipice upon which the ungodly stand. His bowels melted with pity-his heart yearned to assist them. He therefore left no means unat