New Book Offers Rich Wisdom from Evangelist Whitefield
- Thursday, June 01, 2006
Whitefield Gold, the second title in the Gold series by Bridge-Logos, is a succinct and stunning introduction to evangelist George Whitefield. The English preacher's name became a household word on the North American continent in the mid 1700s. He was arguably the most noted revivalist sparking the period's Great Awakening. Because of his booming voice that carried to thousands in the open air and because of his stellar leadership in the movement, Whitefield has been dubbed the "Trumpet of the Great Awakening."
A concise but thorough biography of Whitefield by Sue E. Tennant introduces the volume, and a few pages of photos add graphic appeal. The evangelist's life story tugs at the heart. Despite the fervent adulation of believers on two continents, Whitefield's life had its difficulties. He was run out of London by the Anglican Church in which he had been ordained, and he endured an unhappy marriage.
Even for the scholar who knows Whitefield's role in history, the 171-page volume is a noteworthy review of many pithy quotes from his vast body of sermons. Editor Ray Comfort shares the best of the best with those who would mine Whitefield's sermons for inspiration and wisdom.
Comfort categorizes rich, deep Whitefield wisdom into subject areas, and an index helps the reader find quotes related to various themes, e.g. Christian peace, compassion, conversion, hell, judgment, open-air preaching, prayer and pleasing God. For example:
Advice to Preachers: The best preparation for preaching on Sundays is to preach every day of the week.
Prayer: The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame.
Pleasing God: I believe I was never more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields. Some may censure me; but if I thus pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
One of the book's appendices gives excerpts from the opinions of others who saw Whitefield's impact. The fiery evangelist counted Benjamin Franklin among his close friends. Franklin was skeptical regarding newspaper estimates of the crowds flocking to hear Whitefield. However, after his own investigation, he wrote, "[George] had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great distance."
Franklin tested the crowd estimates by moving far away from Whitefield during an outdoor sermon and concluded that he could be reasonably heard by more than 30,000 people.
Leonard Ravenhill wrote, "What was the secret of Whitefield's success? I think three things: he preached a pure gospel, he preached a powerful gospel, he preached a passionate gospel."
John Newton observed, "It seemed as though he never preached in vain."
And John Wesley asked the question, "Have we read or heard of anyone who has been God's blessed instrument to bring so many sinners from darkness to light and from Satan unto God as Whitefield?"
Ray Comfort is himself a noted evangelist, pastor and author whose work challenges today's church to carry the Gospel into everyday relationships. With actor Kirk Cameron, Comfort co-hosts The Way of the Master, an award-winning television program with a strong emphasis on evangelism. With Whitefield Gold, Comfort offers a great gift to the Body of Christ, allowing readers to discover the impact of one of the world's great evangelists.
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