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Whitefield, who never seems to have fallen into this superstition, was persuaded that he was called to Georgia ; and even if he had not felt that impression upon his mind, the inconsistency of returning to London in obedience to a lot, which had been drawn without his consent or knowledge, and breaking the engagements which he had formed, would have been glaring, and the inconvenience not inconsiderable. He betook himself to prayer : the story of the prophet in the book of Kings came forcibly to his recollection, how he turned back from his appointed course, because another prophet told him it was the will of the Lord that he should do so, and for that reason a lion met him by the way. So he proceeded on his voyage. The previous career of the disciple in England, during the master's absence in America, must now be retraced.
letter from you at Georgia, wherein you wrote words to this effect:
though God never before gave me a wrong lot, yet perhaps he suffered me to have such a lot at that time, to try what was in your heart.”. I should never,” says Whitefield, “ have published this private transaction to the world, did not the glory of God call me to it. It is plain you had a wrong lot given you here, and justly, because you tempted God in drawing one.” Whitefield afterwards, in his remarks upon Bishop Lavington's book, refers to this subject in a manner which does him honour. “ My mentioning," he says, “ Mr. Wesley's casting a lot on a private occasion, known only to God and ourselves, has put me to great pain. - It was wrong in me to publish a private transaction to the world; and very ill-judged to think the glory of Gud could be promoted by unnecessarily exposing my friend. For this I have asked both God and him pardon years ago. And though I believe both have forgiven me, yet I believe I shall never be able to forgive myself. As it was a public fault, I think it should be publicly acknowledged; and I thank a kind Providence for giving me this opportunity of doing it.”
Less clear, less logical, less formed for command and legislation than Wesley, Whitefield was of a more ardent nature, and arrived at the end of his spiritual course, before Wesley had obtained sight of the goal, It was soon after his introduction to the two brothers that he thus outran them. In reading a treatise, entitled “ The Life of God in the Soul of Man," wherein he found it asserted, that true religion is an union of the soul with God or Christ, formed within us, a ray of divine light, he says, instantaneously darted in upon him, and from that moment he knew that he must be a new creature, But in seeking to attain that religious state which brings with it the peace that passeth all understanding, the vehemence of his disposition led him into greater excesses than any of his compeers at Oxford. He describes himself as having all sensible comforts withdrawn from him, overwhelmed with a horrible fearfulness and dread, all power of meditation, or even thinking, taken away, gone, his whole soul barren and dry, and his sensations, as he imagined, like those of a man locked up in iron armour. “ Whenever I knelt down,” he says, “ I felt great pressures both on soul and body; and have often prayed under the weight of them till the sweat came through me. God only knows how many nights I have lain upon my bed, groaning under what I felt. Whole days and weeks have I spent in lying prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer.” In this state he began to practise austerities, such as the Roinish superstition encourages : he chose the worst food, and
affected mean apparel; he made himself remark. able by leaving off powder in his hair, when every one else was powdered, because he thought it un. becoming a penitent; and he wore woollen gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes, as visible signs of humility. Such conduct drew upon him contempt, insult, and the more serious consequence, that part of that pay on which he depended for his support was taken from him by men who did not chuse to be served by so slovenly a servitor. Other excesses injured his health: he would kneel under the trees in Christ Church, walk in silent prayer, shivering the while with cold, till the great bell summoned him to his college for the night: he exposed himself to cold in the morning till his hands were quite black : he kept Lent so strictly, that, except on Saturdays and Sundays, his only food was coarse bread and sage tea, with. out sugar. The end of this was, that before the termination of the forty days he had scarcely strength enough left to creep up stairs, and was under a physician for many weeks.
At the close of the severe illness which he had thus brought on himself, a happy change of mind confirmed his returning health ;—it may best be related in his own words. He says,
“ Notwithstanding my fit of sickness continued six or seven weeks, I trust I shall have reason to bless God for it through the endless ages of eternity. For, about the end of the seventh week, after having undergone innumerable buffetings of Satan, and many months inexpressible trials, by night and day, under the spirit of bondage, God was pleased at length to remove the heavy load, to enable me to lay hold on his dear Son by a living faith, and, by giving me the spirit of adoption, to seal me, as I humbly hope, even to the day of everlasting redemption. But oh! with what joy, joy unspeakable, even joy that was full of and big with glory, was my soul filled, when the weight of sin went off, and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God, and a full assurance of faith, broke in upon my disconsolate soul! Surely it was the day of my espousals, day to be had in everlasting remembrance. At first my joys were like a spring tide, and, as it were, overflowed the banks. Go where I would I could not avoid singing of psalms almost aloud; afterwards they became more settled, and, blessed be God, saving a few casual intervals, have abode and increased in my soul ever since.”
The Wesleys at this time were in Georgia ; and some person, who feared lest the little society which they had formed at Oxford should be broken up and totally dissolved for want of a superintendant, had written to a certain Sir John Philips of London, who was ready to assist in religious works with his purse, and recommended Whitefield as a proper person to be encouraged and patronized more especially for this purpose. Sir John immediately gave him an annuity of 201., and promised to make it 301., if he would continue at Oxford;
- for if this place could be leavened with the vital spirit of religion, it would be like medicating the waters at their spring. His illness rendered it
expedient for him to change the air; and he went accordingly to his native city, where, laying aside all other books, he devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures, reading them upon his knees, and praying over every line and word. “ Thus," as he expresses himself, “ he daily received fresh life, light and power
from above ; and found it profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in rightèousness, every way sufficient to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work.” His general character, his demeanour at church, his visiting the poor, and praying with the prisoners, attracted the notice of Dr. Benson, the then bishop of Gloucester, who sent for him one day after the evening service, and having asked his age, which was little more than twenty-one, told him, that although he had re. solved not to ordain any one under three-andtwenty, he should think it his duty to ordain him whenever he came for holy orders. Whitefield himself had felt a proper degree of fear at undertaking so sacred an office; his repugnance was now overruled by this encouragement, and by the persuasion of his friends; and as he preferred remaining at Oxford, Sir John Philips's allowance was held a sufficient title by the bishop, who would otherwise have provided him with a cure.
Whitefield prepared himself by abstinence and prayer ; and on the Saturday eve, retiring to a hill near the town, he there prayed fervently for about two hours, in behalf of himself and those who were to enter into holy orders at the same time. On the fol