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The graves of all his saints he bless'd,
And soft'ned every bed ;
But with their dying Head ?
Thence he arose, ascending high,
And show'd our feet the way;
At the great rising day.
Then let the last loud trumpet sound,
And bid our kindred rise ;
Ye saints ascend the skies.
The following Epitaph, in memory of Whitefield was composed by the Rev. Thomas Gibbons.
In Reverendum Virum
GEORGIUM WHITEFIELD, Laboribus sacris olim abundantem; nunc vero, ut bene speratur cælestem et immortalem vitam cum Christo agentem.
Ingenio pollens, divitiisque sacris :
Tandem perfruers lætitia superum
Delicis plenis omnia aperta tibi.
Vivificos roresque ossa sepulta manent.
A vessel chosen and divine, replete
In long laborious travels, thou at length
All hail, my servant, in thy various trusts
See the eternal kingdoms of the skies,
Open'd for thy reception, and thy bliss.
Reposing from its toils, awaits the star,
Shall visit, and immortal lise inspire.
The following inscription is on Whitefield's tombstone, in Newburyport.
to the memory of the
born at Gloucester, Eng. Dec'r. 16, 1714:
educated at Oxford University : ordained 1736. In a ministry of thirty-four years, he crossed the Atlantic thirteen times, and preached more than eighteen thousand sermons. As a soldier of the cross, humble, devout, ardent; he put on the whole armor of God, preferring the honors of Christ to his own interest, repose, reputation, or life. As a Christian orator, his deep piety, disinterested zeal, and vivid imagination, gave unexampled energy to his look, action, and utterance. Bold, fervent, pungent, and popular in his eloquence, no other uninspired man ever preached to so large assemblies, or enforced the simple truths of the gospel by motives so persuasive and awful, and with an influence so powerful on the hearts
of his hearers.
Extracts from some of the funeral sermons preached on the occasion
of his death.
Many sermons were preached on the occasion of his death, both in America and England. From these, the reader will probably not be displeased to see the following extracts; as they not only set the character of Whitefield in a variety of lights, but are so many testimonies to it, by witnesses of undoubted credit, in different parts of the world.
The first sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Parsons at Newburyport, the very day on which he died, from Phil. i. 21. “For me to live is Christ
, and to die is gain.” In which he gives the following character of his departed friend :
“Christ became a principle of spiritual life in his soul, while he was an under-graduate at the university in Oxford. Before his conversion, he was a pharisee of the pharisees, as strict as ever Paul was, before God met him on his way to Damascus, according to his own declaration in his last sermon, which I heared him preach at Exeter, yesterday. He was, by means
of reading, a very searching puritanical writer ; convinced of the rottenness of all duties he had done, and the danger of a self-righteous foundation of hope. When he heared Christ speak to him in the gospel, he cried, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And it seems as if, at that time, it had been made known to him, that he was a chosen vessel, to bear the name of Jesus Christ through the British nation, and her colonies; to stand before kings and nobles, and all sorts of people, to preach Christ, and him crucified. From that time, the dawn of salvation had living power in his heart, and he had an ardent desire to furnish himself for the gospel ministry. To this end, besides the usual studies at the college, he gave himself to reading the holy scriptures, to meditation and prayer; and particularly, he read Mr. Henry's Annotations on the Bible, upon his knees before God.
“Since my first acquaintance with him, which is about thirty years ago, I have highly esteemed him, as an excellent christian, and an eminent minister of the gospel. A heart so bent for Christ, with such a sprightly, active genius, could not admit of a stated fixed residence in one place, as the pastor of a particular congregation; and therefore, he chose to itinerate from place to place, and from one country to another ; which indeed, was much better suited to his talents, than a fixed abode would have been. I often considered him as an angel flying through the midst of heaven, with the everlasting gospel, to preach unto them that dwell on the earth; for he preached the uncorrupted word of God, and gave solemn warnings against all corruptions of the gospel of Christ.* When he came the first time to Boston, the venerable Dr. Coleman, with whom I had a small acquaintance, condescended to write to me, 'that the wonderful man was come, and they had a week of sabbaths; that his zeal for Christ was extraordinary; and yet he recommended himself to his many thousand hearers by his engagedness for holiness and souls. I soon had opportunity to observe, that wherever he flew, like a flame of fire, his ministry gave a general alarm to all sorts of people, though before they had, for a long time, been amazingly sunk into dead formality. It was then a time in New England, when real christians generally had slackened their zeal for Christ, and fallen into a remiss and careless frame of spirit; and hypocritical professors were sunk into a deep sleep of carnal security. Ministers, and their congregations seemed to be at ease. But his preaching appeared to be from the heart, though too many,
* The late Dr. Grosvenor, upon hearing Whitefield preach at Charlessquare, Hoxton, expressed himself thus :" That if the apostle Paul had preached to this auditory, he would have preached in the same manner."
who spake the same things, preached as if it were indifferent, whether they were received or rejected. We were convinced that he believed the message he brought us, to be of the last importance. Nevertheless, as soon as there was time for reflection, the enemies of Christ began to cavil, and hold up some of his sallies as if they were unpardonable faults. By such means he met with a storm as tempestuous as the troubled sea,
that casts up mire and dirt. Some of every station were too fond of their old way of formality, to part with it, for such a despised cause as living religion. But the spirit of Christ sent home the message of the Lord upon the conciences of some, and shook them off from their false hopes : but many began to find fault, and some to write against his evangelizing through the country, while others threatened fire brands, arrows, and death. Yet God gave room for his intense zeal to operate, and fit objects appeared, wherever he went, to engage him in preaching Christ, and him crucified.
"In his repeated visits to America, when his services had almost exhausted his animal spirits, and his friends were ready to cry, 'Spare thyself, his hope of serving Christ, and winning souls to him, animated and engaged him to run almost any risk. Neither did he ever cross the Atlantic, on an itinerating visitation, without visiting his numerous brethren here, to see how religion prospered amongst them; and we know that his labors have been unwearied among us, and to the applause of all his hearers; and, through the intinite mercy of God, his labors have sometimes been crowned with great success, in the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints. And though he often returned from the pulpit, very feeble after public preaching, yet his engaging sweetness of conversation, changed the suspicions of many into passionate love and friendship.
“In many things, his example is worthy of imitation; and if in any thing he exceeded, or came short, his integrity, zeal for God, and love to Christ and his gospel, rendered him, in extensive usefulness, more than equal to any of his brethren. In preaching here, and through most parts of America, he has been in labors more abundant, approving himself a minister of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in watchings, in fastings, by pureness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. And God, that comforteth those that are cast down, has often comforted us by his coming; and not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in us, so that we could rejoice the more.
“His popularity exceeded all that ever I knew; and though
the asthma was sometimes an obstruction to him, his delivery and entertaining method was so inviting to the last, that it would command the attention of the vast multitudes of his hearers. An apprehension of his concern to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and do good to the souls of men drew many thousands after him, who never embraced the doctrines he taught. He had something so peculiar in his manner, expressive of sincerity in all he delivered, that it constrained the most abandoned to think he believed what he said was not only true, but of the last importance to souls; and by adapted texts adduced, and instances of the grace of God related agreeable thereto, often surprised his most judicious hearers.
“His labors extended not only to New England, and many other colonies in British America, but were eminent and more abundant in Great Britian. Many thousands at his chapel and Tabernacle, and in other places, were witnesses that he faithfully endeavored to restore the interesting doctrines of the reformation, and the purity of the church to its primitive glory. Some among the learned, some of the mighty and noble, have been called by his ministry, to testify for the gospel of the grace of God. The force of his reasonings against corrupt principles, and the easy method he had of exposing the danger of them, have astonished the most that heard him, in all places where he preached. How did he lament and withstand the modern unscriptural notions of religion and salvation, that were palmed upon the churches of every denomination! The affecting change from primitive purity to fatal heresy, together with the sad effects of it in mere formality and open wickedness, would often make him cry, as the prophet did in another case, 'How is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed ! How has the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven to earth, the beauty of Israel!
“It is no wonder that this man of God should meet with enemies and with great opposition to his ministry; for hell trembled before him. It is no more than may be always expected of the devil, that he should stir up his servants, to load the most eminent ministers of Christ with calumny and most impudent lies; and represent them as the filth and offscouring of all things. All this may be, and often has been done, under a pretense of great concern for the honor of Christ, and the preservation of the gospel order. When Satan totters and begins to fall
, he can find men enough to cry, the church is in danger; and that he knows is sufficient with many, to hide his cloven foot, and make him appear as an angel of light.
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