This month as I studied for the presentation of my lesson I was introduced to a man that I had only previously known from a distance. As I read and listened to presentations of this mans life I was inspired and awed and I have come away with a new “hero” of the faith that I was previously not very aware of. George Whitefield is the man that I am speaking of.
The early 18th Century was a time of spiritual darkness. Deism was on the rise and the beauty and richness of Reformed theology was quickly vanishing. Had God not raised up the Wesleys and George Whitefield, England may have descended into utter spiritual darkness. George Whitefield also came to America and had a profound Influence here as well. Imagine having Jonathan Edwards as your pastor and then having George Whitefield coming in for special meetings. I would have loved to have been there! Amidst some controversy and with great labor, George Whitefield made 13 trips across the Atlantic and rode his horse from Massachusetts to Georgia preaching the Gospel 40 to 60 hours a week. In a little more than 30 years he preached 18,000 sermons, preached directly to 80% of the population of the Colonies and stood firmly for the Gospel against all foes including his dear friend and mentor, John Wesley.
While John Wesley dons the mantle of the “heretic” in this lesson, I hesitate to leave him there without qualification. He did much good and preached the Gospel to many, many people. However he did seek to cause division in the Church and was publically opposed to Mr. Whitefield without apology. The word Heretic means one who divides or causes division so in the literal sense I have no problem using that term in regard to John Wesley.
This was an amazing time of revival and a time that God raised up men equal to the task of keeping the Church alive when it was for nearly all purposes comatose and on life support. I pray that you are inspired to go forward in our own time of spiritual darkness and shine the light of the Gospel in the dark culture without apology or fear, knowing that God is in charge and will take our efforts and make then useful as only He can do.