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lowing morning he was ordained. “ I trust,” he says, “ I answered to every question from the bottom of my heart; and heartily prayed that God might say Amen. And when the bishop laid his hands upon my head, if my vile heart doth not deceive me, I offered up my whole spirit, soul and body, to the service of God's sanctuary.” -“ Let come what will, life or death, depth or heighth, I shall henceforwards live like one who this day, in the presence of men and angels, took the holy sacrament, upon the profession of being inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon me that ministration in the church. I can call heaven and earth to witness, that when the bishop laid his hand upon me, I gave myself up to be a martyr for Him who hung upon the cross for me.
Known unto Him are all future events and contingencies: I have thrown myself blindfold, and, I trust, without reserve, into His Al. mighty hands.” Such were his feelings at the hour, and they were not belied by the whole tenour of his after life.
Bishop Benson appears to have felt a sincere regard for the young man whom he had thus ordained, little aware of the course which he was designed to run. Whitefield speaks at this time of having received from the good prelate another present of five guineas ;, “ a great supply,” he says,
“ for one who had not a guinea in the world.” He began with as small a stock of sermons as of worldly wealth: it had been his intention to have prepared at least an hundred wherewith to commence his ministry ;-- he found himself with only one: it
proved a fruitful one; for having lent it to a neigh. bouring clergyman, to convince him how unfit he was, as he really believed himself to be, for the work of preaching, the clergyman divided it into two, which he preached morning and evening to his congregation, and sent it back with a guinea for its use. With this sermon he first appeared in the pulpit, in the church of St. Mary de Crypt, where he had been baptized, and where he had first received the sacrament. Curiosity had brought together a large congregation; and he now, he says, felt the unspeakable advantage of having been accustomed to public speaking when a boy at school, and of exhorting and teaching the prisoners and poor people at Oxford. More than this, he felt what he believed to be a sense of the Divine presence, and kindling as he went on in this belief, spake, as he thought, with some degree of gospel authority. A few of his hearers mocked, but upon the greater number a strong impression was produced, and complaint was made to the bishop that fifteen persons had been driven mad by the sermon. The good man replied, he wished the madness might not be forgotten before the next Sunday.
That same week he returned to Oxford, took his degree, and continued to visit the prisoners, and inspect two or three charity schools which were supported by the Methodists. With this state of life he was more than contented, and thought of continuing in the University at least for some years, that he might complete his studies, and do what
good he might among the gownsmen ; to convert one of them would be as much as converting a whole parish. From thence, however, he was invited ere long to officiate at the Tower chapel, in London, during the absence of the curate. It was a summons which he obeyed with fear and trembling ; but he was soon made sensible of his power; for though the first time he entered a pulpit in the metropolis the congregation seemed disposed to sneer at him on account of his youth, they grew serious during his discourse, shewed him great tokens of respect as he came down, and blessed him as he passed along, while enquiry was made on every side, from one to another, who he
Two months he continued in London, reading prayers every evening at Wapping chapel, and twice a week at the Tower, preaching and catechising there once; preaching every Tuesday at Ludgate prison, and daily visiting the soldiers in the infirmary and barracks.
The chapel was crowded when he preached, persons came from different parts of the town to hear him, and proof enough was given that an earnest minister will make an attentive congregation.
Having returned to Oxford, the Society grew under his care, and friends were not wanting to provide for their temporal support. Lady Betty Hastings allowed small exhibitions to some of his disciples; he himself received some marks of wellbestowed bounty, and was entrusted also with money for the poor. It happened after a while that Mr. Kinchin, the minister of Dummer, in
Hampshire, being likely to be chosen Dean of Corpus Christi College, invited him to officiate in his parish while he went to Oxford, till the election should be decided. Here Whitefield found himself among poor and illiterate people, and his proud heart, he
could not at first brook the change ; he would have given the world for one of his Oxford friends, and “ mourned for want of them like a dove.” He found, however, in one of Mr. Law's books, a fictitious character held up for imitation : this ideal being served him for a friend; and he had soon full satisfaction, as well as full employment, in pursuing the same round of duties as his predecessor. For the people had been taught by their pastor to attend public prayers twice a-day ; in the morning before they went to work, and in the evening after they returned from it: their zealous minister had also been accustomed to catechise the children daily, and visit his parishioners from house to house. In pursuance of this plan, Whitefield allotted eight hours to these offices, eight for study and retirement, and eight for the necessities of nature: he soon learnt to love the people among whom he laboured, and derived from their society a greater improvement than books could have given him.
While he was in London, some letters from Ingham and the Wesleys had made him long to follow them to Georgia : but when he opened these desires to his friends, they persuaded him that labourers were wanting at home; that he had no visible call abroad; and that it was his duty to wait
and see what Providence might point out for him,
- not to do any thing rashly. He now learnt that Charles Wesley was come over to procure assistance; and though Charles did not invite hiin to the undertaking, yet he wrote in terms which made it evident that he was in his thoughts, as a proper person. Soon afterwards came a letter from John, Only Mr. Delamotte is with me," he said, “ till God shall stir up the hearts of some of his servants, who, putting their lives in his hands, shall come over and help us, where the harvest is so great, and the labourers so few. What if thou art the man, Mr. Whitefield ?" In another letter, it was said, “ Do you ask me what you shall have?- Food to eat, and raiment to put on; a house to lay your head in, such as your Lord had not; and a crown of glory that fadeth not away." Upon reading this, his heart, he says, leaped within him, and, as it were, echoed to the call. The desire thus formed soon ripened into a purpose, for which all circumstances seemed favourable. Mr. Kinchin had been elected Dean, and must therefore reside at College ; he would take upon him the charge of the prisoners : Harvey was ready to supply his place in the curacy;
there were many Indians in Georgia, -for their sake it was a ‘matter of great importance that serious clergymen should be sent over: there he should find Wesley, his spiritual teacher and dear friend: a sea voyage, too, might not improbably be helpful to his weakened constitution. Thus he reasoned, finding in every circumstance something which flattered his purpose : and having strengthened it