This is the day that … George Whitefield was ordained by Bishop Benson in 1736. The place was Gloucester Cathedral, it was “Trinity Sunday,” and Whitefield was 21 years of age. He tells us in his journal that he had spent the day previous in prayer and fasting … and “prayed fervently for about two hours” on a hill outside the town.
On the Sunday he “arose early and prayed over St Paul’s Epistle to Timothy, especially that precept ‘let no man despise thy youth’.” Thus it was in fear and trembling young Whitefield approached the sacred office.
The following Sunday he was to preach his first sermon and the gospel was powerfully presented. “I have since heard that a complaint had been made to the bishop that I drove 15 people mad the first sermon…” he wrote.
Mad? Or overjoyed that they had come to know the Saviour!
There would be many more – thousands more – who would experience a holy joy before Whitefield preached his last sermon 34 years later.
And Bishop Benson was clearly a leader who stood by his men. His reply to those who complained after that first sermon was that he hoped the madness might not be forgotten by the next Sunday.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.