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George Whitefield died; His dream had come true: America was a nation now—one nation under God.
George Whitefield
For many reasons, the sense of Divine purpose for the new world and for themselves as individuals, which the Pilgrims and Puritans dedicated their lives to, had waned in the intervening years until God stirred it up again in The Great Awakening. The expanding Colonies were divided by distance and lack of good roads and good communication. Time was consumed in surviving. One source said, "the majority of the people were unchurched," when the awakening began.

Though many had their parts, the one person all historians, secular and religious, point to as the most influential was George Whitefield. The Restoring America project states, "By the time of his death in 1770, evangelist Reverend George Whitefield was the best known American in the 13 Colonies."

The Light and the Glory calls him, "…the greatest evangelist of the 18th century, one of the handful of men in the history of Christendom to be used by God to change the course of nations through the power of His Spirit."1

Thousands gathered wherever George Whitefield preached. Benjamin Franklin, who became his friend, observed:
It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.
The persuasion and power of Whitefield's anointed voice were remarkable. The Light and the Glory states:
Franklin, the first truly scientific observer of lightning, listened to Christ's 25-year-old lightning rod [Whitefield] preaching from the courthouse steps, and was amazed at the carrying power of his voice. Retracing his steps backwards down Market Street until he could at last no longer hear him, the amazed Franklin computed that in an open space, Whitefield's words could be heard by 30,000 people…And on more than one occasion, they were.
He traversed the colonies, preaching the unifying message of equality for all at the foot of the cross. A Wake Forest site (www.wfu.edu) states that "…the Great Awakening was to unify 4/5 of Americans in a common understanding of the Christian faith and life…." George Whitfield literally gave his life to bring that about. The Light and the Glory records his ministry:
…year after year, up and down the East Coast, and as far inland by canoe and horseback as civilization extended. In the summer of 1754 he wrote to Charles Wesley.
My wonted vomitings have left me, and though I ride whole nights and have frequently been exposed to great thunders, violent lightnings, and heavy rains, yet I am rather better than usual… O that I might at length begin to live! I am ashamed of my sloth and lukewarmness, and long to be on the stretch for God.
…in [that] same year…he preached 100 times in 6 weeks, riding the main roads and throughout the backwoods of New England, covering nearly 2000 miles in 5 months. …Some might say that this was not good stewardship of God's gift of health. But the power of the Holy Spirit fell practically every time he preached, and one wonders if…he had driven himself any less hard…would the tremendous work which God purposed through him have been accomplished?

The Lord was uniting the thirteen colonies….

…Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons between 1736 and 1770! …In 1770, his health broken and his breathing tormented…He reached Boston on his last visit...5 months after British troops fired on a mob of civilians, killing 5, in…the Boston Massacre.
Gloria Copeland and I did two weeks of television on Why America Needs to be Saved and The Awakening to God That Will Save Her. The BVOV programs are available to view on their website (kcm.org). When we came to George Whitefield's dedication even to the point of death, the Spirit of God fell upon everyone on the set. We all wept as we read this account in The Light and the Glory.

The next month found him up in New Hampshire, where the ministers of Exeter begged him  for a sermon. But when the time came, he could barely breathe…glancing heavenward he [said], "Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not of it. If I have not finished my course, let me go and speak for Thee once more in the fields, and seal Thy truth, and come home and die!"

And the Lord granted his request. The entire district seemed to have converged on the Exeter Green…At first, Whitefield could hardly be heard, and his words were rambling…He stopped and stood silent. Minutes passed. Then he said, "I will wait for the gracious assistance of God. For He will, I am certain, assist me once more to speak in His name."

Then, according to Jonathan Parsons, the minister of Newburyport, he seemed to be rekindled by an inner fire. His voice now strong and clear…On and on he went, into the second hour…when he cried out: "I go! I go to rest prepared My sun has arisen and by the aid of heaven has given light to many. It is now about to set…No! It is about to rise to the zenith of immortal glory…O thought divine!...How willingly I would ever live to preach Christ! But I die to be with Him!" [After a night of fitful sleep] in the early morning, he…pulled himself out of bed and…over to the window, to see the dawn's early light. George Whitefield died, just as the first rays of the sun caught the waters of the bay below. The new day would soon break across the nation. His dream had come true: America was a nation now—one nation under God.

Unto a Good Land, by David Edwin Harrell, Jr and a team of historians concludes, "To be sure, Whitefield did not do it alone, though it is worth noting that the first individual to bring some degree of unity to the colonies was not a politician but a preacher."

1Peter Marshall & David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, Fleming H. Revell, Grand Rapids, MI

Billye Brim Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Billye Brim
Web site: Billye Brim Ministries
 
Billye Brim was born again at the age of eight in 1947 and was brought up to love God and His Word. After her initial in-filling of the Holy Spirit in 1967, she began the journey of fulfilling the call of God on her life.
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