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their own doings, and the reward of their own work, whereby they raise the resentment of mankind against them for uncharitable slander, and spiritual abuse. But whoever knoweth any thing of the gospel, and has experienced it to be the power of God unto salvation, knoweth this is the language of persons who are unacquainted with the depravity of their nature; and through the degeneracy of their hearts, are unwilling to be disturbed; therefore are saying to the ministers of Christ, prophecy unto us smooth things. But the ministers of the gospel are to be sons of thunder, and so to utter their voice, and conduct their lives, as to prove the nature of their work.
“Our dear and reverend friend was highly honored for many years, in being a happy instrument to do this successfully. With what a holy zeal he proceeded, long before he was publicly ordained to the sacred office, has been long attested; and no person has been able to contradict the testimony. No sooner did he appear in the work of the sanctuary, but he soon convinced his numerous auditories, that his Almighty Lord, who had given him the commission, had by his grace wrought him for the self-same thing; and through the Holy Spirit attending his endeavors, made him a workman that need eth not to be ashamed. One would think his great success in his public labors, the frequent opportunities he embraced of doing good, by the relief of people in distressing circumstances, every occasion he took to use his influence for the good of mankind, and the whole of his behavior through a life of fifty-six years, being, so far as the frailty of our present state will admit, unblamable and unreproachable, should have exempted him from contempt and reproach. But, quite the contrary: there was so near a resemblance to his blessed Master, as obliged him to bear his reproach. He has suffered with him on earth, and he is now glorified with him in heaven. He has labored abundantly, and he has been as liberally reproached and maligned from every quarter. Clergy and laity have whet their tongues like a sword against him, and bent their bows to shoot their arrows; but the Lord, amongst all, has known and approved his righteous servant. Though it is well known, he has had opportunity long since to enjoy episcopal emolument; yet, in his opinion, and it will be found he judged like a wise man in the end, sinners, through his instrumentality, being turned unto the Lord, and becoming his joy and crown of rejoicing, in the day of our Lord Jesus, was esteemed a greater honor than any thing this world could afford him. His longing desire for the salvation of immortal souls, would not admit of his being confined within the district of any walls; though it must be acknowledged, he never
thought of commencing field preacher, till his invidious enemies refused him church pulpits, with indignation of spirit unbecoming the lowest and most vulgar class of mankind, much Jess men professing themselves preachers of godliness. Though he has, throughout the whole course of his ministry, given sufficient proof of his inviolable attachment to our happy establishment, he was desirous to countenance the image of Christ wherever he saw it, well knowing, that political institutions, in any nation whatever, should not destroy the blessed union, or prevent the communion which ought to subsist throughout the holy catholic church, between real and sincere christians of all denominations. Some people may retain such a veneration for apostolic phrases, as to suppose they ought not to be applied to other persons. Sorry am I to observe, that few deserve the application of them. But of Mr. Whitefield we may say, with the strictest truth, in journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils of his own countrymen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, he hath approved himself a minister of God. All who knew and were acquainted with him, soon discovered in him every mark of good sense and good manners. His company
and conversation so enlivening and entertaining, and at the same time so instructive and edifying, that no person, with the least degree of common sense, could behave improperly in his presence. In him met, what do not often meet in one person, the finished and complete gentleman, and the real and true christian. Why then did he take pleasure in reproaches, and submit to the taunts and insults, both of the vulgar and politer part of mankind ? He had respect to the recompense of reward. Though the believer's work will never entitle him to a reward of debt, yet the reward of grace will always excite a holy desire to render something unto the Lord. What wilt thou have me to do? is the incessant inquiry of that soul, who by the merits of the Redeemer's death, and the virtue of his precious blood, is redeemed from sin, and made a partaker of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Faith operates by good works : and let all the men of the world
say to the contrary, or put ever so base a construction upon our doctrine, it will evidence itself by these good fruits. It was from these principles that Mr. Whitefield acted, and they were productive of the desired effect, not only in alms-giving, this was but a small matter, when compared with the happier and more important attempt which he made for the good of mankind, at the hazard of his life, and the expense of an unblemished character. How he has preached with showers of stones,
and many other instruments of malice and revenge about his ears, many of his surviving friends can witness. But having the salvation of sinners at heart, and a great desire to rescue them from the power of eternal death, he resolved to spend and be spent for the service of precious and immortal souls ; and spared no pains, and refused no labor, so that he might but administer to their real and eternal good. And glory be to our good God, he hath persevered and endured to the end of his life, having respect unto the recompense of the reward. Surely nothing else could support him under such a weight of care, and enable him, amidst it all
, for so many years, to bear it with so much cheerfulness. The worthy inhabitants of this province do not want my attestation, either to the loss the province has sustained, or to the desire he has had for its prosperity. His indefatigable endeavors to promote it, and the many fervent prayers he has night and day offered for it, speak loud enough. Happy omens we would hope in favor of it, both as to its temporal increase, and spiritual prosperity. May God raise up some useful men to supply his place, and carry on unto perfection what he hath so disinterestedly begun, that the institution he has founded in this province, may be of public utility to the latest posterity !
“As to his death, little more can be said of it, than has been communicated to the public already. He died like a hero, in the field of battle--he has been fighting the battles of the Lord of hosts upwards of thirty years, against the world, sin, and Satan--and he has been a conquerer-he has fought successfully-many, very many, converted sinners are the trophies of his victory. But now his warfare is accomplished, the captain of his salvation has granted him a discharge, he has entered into his everlasting rest, and is reaping the benefit of a life sincerely dedicated to his service of the once crucified, but now exalted Jesus. He preached the day before his decease: though his death was sudden, he was not surprised. The morning of his departure, not many hours before his spirit took its flight to the regions of bliss, he prayed to the God of his salvation, and committed his departing soul into his hands, as his faithful Creator, and all merciful Redeemer. Soon after he said, 'I am near my end--then fell asleep-he fainted and died---not one sigh, or groan—the Lord heard his prayer, and granted his request, and
gave him an easy dismission out of time into eternity. Sudden death was his desire; and sudden death was to him sudden glory. He has fought the good fight; few, if any, since the apostles, have been more extensively useful, or labored more abundantly. Thousands, I believe, I may with propriety say, in England, Scotland, and America, have great
reason to bless God for his ministrations; for he has traveled far and wide, proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation through faith in a crucified Savior. Adorable Emanuel, make thou up the loss of him to thy church and people! Let a double portion of thy Spirit be poured out upon the remaining ministers ! Let that holy fire, which burnt so bright in thy departed servant, warm each of their hearts ! And, O thou Lord of the harvest, send forth more such true and faithful laborers into thy harvest."
Many funeral discourses were preached for him at home and abroad. In that by the Rev. Dr. Edwards, November 11, 1770, on Hebrews xi. 4, " By it he being dead, yet speaketh,"—is given the character of Whitefield as follows:
1. “The ardent love he bore to the Lord Jesus Christ was remarkable. This divine principle constrained him to an unwearied application in the service of the gospel ; and transported him, at times, in the eyes of some, beyond the bounds of sober reason. He was content to be a fool for Christ's sake; to be despised, so Christ might be honored : to be nothing, that Jesus might be all in all. He had such a sense of the incomparable excellence of the person of Christ, of his adorable condescension in taking our nature upon him, and enduring the curses of the holy law ; his complete suitableness and sufficiency, as the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of his people, that he could never say enough of him. He was so convinced of the happy tendency and efficacy of this principle in his own mind, that he made use of it, and proposed it to others, in the room of a thousand arguments whenever he would inculcate the most unreserved obedience to the whole will of God, or stir up believers to a holy diligence in adorning the doctrines of God our Savior in all things. Inspired by this principle, nothing frightened or flattered him from his duty.
2. “Another pleasing ingredient in his character, and a sure evidence of the former, was to love the souls of mankind. He rejoiced in their prosperity as one that had found great spoil ; and with St. Paul, was willing to spend and be spent in promoting their happiness. He loved all who loved Jesus Christ in sincerity, however they might differ in some circumstantials. He embraced all opportunities to expose the malignant leaven of a party, and to remove prejudices and misapprehensions, which good people too often entertain of one another, when under the influence of sectarian humor.
3. " His attachment to the great doctrines of the gospel was inflexible; having known their worth, and experienced their power in his own heart, he plainly saw, that though they were
unacceptable to the carnal heart, yet they bore the plain impress of the infinite wisdom of God. Those important truths, which tended to humble the sinner, to exalt Christ, and promote holiness in heart and life, were his darling subjects. He did not disguise gospel truths by some artful sweetening, to render them more palatable to men of corrupt minds: he studied to preach the word in its purity, plainness, and simplicity. The warmth of his zeal disgusted many who make a mighty outcry about candor and charity, and are willing to extend it to every sentiment, except the truths in which the apostles gloried. It was his love to the truths of God, and the souls of men, that led him to expose those who plead for the rectitude and excellences of human nature ; deny the proper godhead of Jesus Christ, justification by faith in his righteousness imputed, on the new birth; and the absolute necessity of the operations of the Holy Ghost. Faith and holiness were ever united together in his system, in opposition to those who pretend to faith without obedience to the law of God as the rule of life. He knew errors of the great truths of the gospel are not indifferent, but dreadful and fatal; he knew it was not candor and charity to say that errors in judgment are not hurtful, but the greatest unmercifulness and cruelty; therefore he often reproved such sharply.
“Although he was so tenacious of the foundation truths of the gospel, yet none more candid in things that are not essential; herein he was full of gentleness and forbearance. In things indifferent he became all things to all men. 4. “ To the foregoing particulars in Mr. Whitefield's characI may
add his zeal. His christian zeal was like the light of the sun, which did warm, shine and cherish, but knew not to destroy ; full of generous philanthropy and benevolence, his zeal made him exceeding earnest and importunate in his addresses to saints and sinners. His zeal returned blessings for curses, and prayers for ill treatment-it kindled in him a becoming indignation against the errors, follies, and sins of the time—it led him to weep bitterly over those who would not be persuaded to fly from the wrath to come—it made him bold and intrepid in the cause of God, and kept him from that flatness and deadness, which is too visible in some good ministers. In those things he was an example to ministers of every denomination ; and if the limits of my discourse would admit, I could mention many things, as to his charity to the poor, his humility, &c."
On Sunday, November 18, 1770, the Rev. John Wesley, preached his funeral sermon at the chapel in Tottenham court