Imágenes de páginas

friend, and extensively useful servant of Christ, Mr. Whitefield, passed both in England and America ; but the Lord was his sun to guide and animate him, and his shield to defend and help him unto the end: neither did he count his own life dear, so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry that he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

“ The last sermon that he preached, though under the disadvantage of a stage in the open air, was delivered with such clearness, pathos, and eloquence, as to please and surprise the surrounding thousands. And as he had been confirmed by the grace of God, many years before, and had been waiting and hoping for his last change, he then declared, that he hoped it was the last time he should ever preach. Doubtless, he then had such clear views of the blessedness of open vision, and the complete fruition of God in Christ, that he felt the pleasures of heaven in his raptured soul, which made his countenance shine like the unclouded sun."

The following lines are part of a poem on Whitefield, written by a negro servant girl, seventeen years of age, belonging to Mr. J. Wheatly, of Boston.

"He prayed that grace in every heart might dwell,
He longed to see America excel;
He charg'd its youth to let the grace divine
Arise, and in their future actions shine.
He offer'd that he did himself receive,
A greater gift not God himself can give.
He urg'd the need of Him to ev'ry one;
It was no less than God's co-equal Son.
Take Him ye wretched for your only good;
Take Him ye starving souls to be your food.
Ye thirsty, come to this life-giving stream;
Ye preachers, take him for your joyful theme.
Take Him, my dear Americans, he said,
Be your complaints in his kind bosom laid.
Take Him, ye Africans, he longs for you;
Impartial Savior is his title due.
If you will choose to walk in grace's road,
You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God.
Great countess! we Americans revere
Thy name, and thus condole thy grief sincere.
New England, sure doth feel; the orphan's smart
Reveals the true sensations of his heart.
His lonely Tabernacle sees no more
A Whitefield landing on the British shore.
Then let us view him in yon azure skies,
Let every mind with this lov'd object rise.
Thou tomb, shall safe retain thy sacred trust,
Till life divine re-animates his dust.

The next sermon was preached by Dr. Pemberton, of Bos

[ocr errors]

ton, October 11, 1770, upon 1 Peter i. 4. “To an inheritance reserved in heaven for you.In which he says:

“I am not fond of funeral panegyrics. But where persons have been distinguishingly honored by heaven, and employed to do uncommon services for God's church upon earth, it would be criminal ingratitude to suffer them to drop into the dust without the most respectful notice. The memory of the just is blessed! Posterity will view Mr. Whitefield, in many respects, as one of the most extraordinary characters of the present age. His zealous, incessant, and successful labors, in Europe and America, are without a parallel.

“Devoted early to God, he took orders as soon as the constitution of the established church in England allowed. His first appearance in the work of the ministry was attended with surprising success. The largest churches in London were not able to contain the numbers that perpetually flocked to hear his awakening discourses. The crowds daily increased. He was soon forced into the fields, followed by multitudes, who hung with silent attention upon his lips, and with avidity received the word of life. The spirit of God in an uncommon measure, descended upon the hearers. The secure were awakened to a salutary fear of divine wrath, and inquiring minds were directed to Jesus, the only Savior of a revolted world—the vicious were visibly reclaimed; and those who had hitherto rested in a form of godliness, were made acquainted with the power of a divine life. The people of God were refreshed with the consolation of the blessed Spirit, and rejoiced to see their exalted Master, going on from conquering to conquer, and sinners of all orders and characters, bowing to the scepter of a crucified Savior.

“His zeal could not be confined within the British islands. His ardent desire for the welfare of immortal souls, conveyed him to the distant shores of America. We beheld a new star arise in the hemisphere of these western churches; and its salutary influences were diffused through a great part of the British settlements in these remote regions. We heard with pleasure, from a divine of the Episcopal communion, those great doctrines of the gospel, which our venerable ancestors brought with them from their native country. With a soul elevated above a fond attachment to forms and ceremonies, he inculcated that pure and unadulterated religion, for the preservation of which our fathers banished themselves into an uncultivated desert. In his repeated progresses through the colonies, he was favored with the same success which attended him on the other side of the Atlantic. He preached from day to day in thronged assemblies; yet his hearers never discovered the least weariness, but

always followed him with increasing ardor. When in the pulpit, every eye was fixed upon his expressive countenance; every ear was charmed with his melodious voice; all sorts of persons were captivated with the propriety and beauty of his address.

“But it is not the fine speaker, the accomplished orator, that we are to celebrate from the sacred desk : these engaging qualities, if not sanctified by divine grace, and consecrated to the service of heaven, are as the sounding brass, and the tinkling cymbal. When misimproved, instead of conveying happiness to mankind, they render us more illustriously miserable.

“The gifts of nature, the acquisitions of art, which adorned the character of Mr. Whitefield, were devoted to the honor of God, and the enlargement of the kingdom of our divine Redeemer. While he preached the gospel, the Holy Ghost was sent down to apply it to the consciences of the hearers; the eyes of the blind were opened, to behold the glories of the compassionate Savior; the ears of the deaf were unstopped, to attend to the invitations of incarnate love; the dead were animated with a divine principle of life ; many in all parts of the land were turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.

“ These doctrines which we had been instructed in from our infancy, by our faithful pastors, seemed to acquire new force, and were attended with uncommon success when delivered by him. His discourses were not trifling speculations, but contained the most inreresting truths; they were not an empty play of wit, but solemn addresses to the hearts of men.

“ To convince sinners that they were by nature children of wrath ; by practice, transgressors of the divine law; and in consequence of this, exposed to the vengeance of offended heaven; to display the transcendent excellency of a Savior, and persuade awakened minds to confide in his merits and righteousness, as the only hopes of a guilty world; to impress upon the professors of the gospel the necessity, not only of an outward reformation, but an internal change, by the powerful influences of the Spirit; to lead the faithful to a zealous practice of the various duties of the christian life, that they may evidence the sincerity of their faith, and adorn the doctrine of God their Savior. These were the reigning subjects of his pulpit discourses.

"He was no contracted bigot, but embraced christians of every denomination in the arms of his charity, and acknowledged them to be children of the same father, servants of the same master, heirs of the same undefiled inheritance.

That I am not complimenting the dead, but speaking the

words of truth and soberness, I am persuaded I have many witnesses in this assembly.

“He was always received by multitudes with pleasure, when he favored these parts with his labors; but he never had a more obliging reception than in his last visit. Men of the first distinction in the province, not only attended his ministry, but gave him the highest marks of their respect. With what faithfulness did he declare unto us the whole counsel of God! With what solemnity did he reprove us for our increasing degeneracy ! With what zeal did he exhort us, to remember from whence we were fallen, and repent and do our first works, lest God should come and remove our candlestick out of its place!

“ Animated with a God-like design of promoting the temporal and spiritual happiness of mankind, after the example of his divine Master, he went about doing good. In this he persevered with unremitting ardor and assiduity, till death removed him to that rest which remains for the people of God. Perhaps no man, since the apostolic age, preached oftener or with greater success.

“If we view his private character, he will appear in a most amiable point of light. The polite gentleman ; the faithful friend ; the engaging companion ; above all, the sincere christian, were visible in the whole of his deportment.

“With large opportunities of accumulating wealth, he never discovered the least tincture of avarice. What he received from the kindness of his friends, he generously employed in offices of piety and charity. His benevolent mind was perpetually forming plans of extensive usefulness. The Orphan-house, which many years ago he erected in Georgia, and the college he was founding in that province at the time of his death, will be lasting monuments of his care, that religion and learning might be propagated to future generations.

« I have not, my brethren, drawn an imaginary portrait, but described a character exhibited in real life. I have not mentioned his natural abilities, which were vastly above the common standard. I consider him principally in the light of a christian, and a minister of Jesus Christ, in which he shone with a superior luster, as a star of the first magnitude.

“ After all, I am not representing a perfect man; there are spots in the most shining characters upon earth. But this may be said of Mr.. Whitefield with justice, that after the most public appearances, for above thirty years, and the most critical examination of his conduct, no other blemish could be fixed upon him, than what arose from the common frailties of human nature, and the peculiar circumstances which attended his first entrance into public life.

“ The imprudences of inexperienced youth, he frequently acknowledged from the pulpit, with a frankness which will for ever do honor to his memory. He took care to prevent any bad consequences that might flow from his unguarded censures in the early days of his ministry. The longer he lived, the more he evidently increased in purity of doctrine, in humanity, in meekness, prudence, patience, and the other amiable virtues of the christian life.”

Another funeral sermon on Whitefield, was preached by the Rev. Mr. Ellington, at Savannah, in Georgia, November 11, 1770, upon Hebrews xi. 26. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for le had respect unto the recompense of the reward. In which are the following passages :*

“ The receiving the melancholy news of the much lamented death of a particular friend to the province, a person who was once minister of this church, is the reason of this discourse; and my choice of this subject before us, is to pay my grateful respect to the memory of this well known able minister of the New Testament, and faithful servant of the most high God, the Rev. George Whitefield, whose life was justly esteemed, and whose death will be greatly regretted, by the sincerely religious part of mankind of all denominations, as long as there is one remaining on earth, who knew him, to recollect the fervor of spirit, and holy zeal with which he spake, when preaching the everlasting gospel ; and every other part of his disinterested conduct, consistent with the ministerial character, in life and conversation. Mr. Whitefield's works praise him loud enough. I am not able to say any thing that can add greater luster to them. May every one that ministers in holy things, and all who partake of their ministrations, have equal right to the characteristic in the text, as he had.

" It is the ruling opinion of many, that the offense of the cross is long since ceased; and that whatever evil treatment some of a singular turn may meet with, it is only the fruit of

* Extract of a letter from the late Rev. Cornelius Winter, to the Rev. William Jay.

You have no conception of the effect of Mr. Whitefield's death upon the inhabitants of the province of Georgia. All the black cloth in the stores was bought up; the pulpit and desks of the church, the branches, the organ loft, the pews of the governor and council, were covered with black. The governor and council, in deep mourning, convened at the state house, and went in procession to church, and were received by the organ playing a funeral dirge. Two funeral sermons were preached, one by the Rev. Mr. Ellington; the other by the Rev. Mr. Zubly.

“ The same public marks of regard were shown at one of the churches in Philadelphia, of which Mr. Sprout is pastor, which, by the desire of the session and committee, was put in mourning. Also, at their desire and expense, the bells of Christ church, in that city, were rung muffled.”

« AnteriorContinuar »