This blog attempts to collate various materials in connection with the year 1735.

20070628

Whitefield Letter 1


One of the great events of 1735 was the conversion of the evangelist George Whitefield (1714-1770). This is a letter he wrote early in that year.
(LETTER V in Letters)
Oxon, Feb. 20, 1735
Dear Sir,
I Believe you think me a strange sort of a person, for not being so good as my word in coming down this Winter; and what is worse, in not letting you have a line to acquaint you of my reasons for it. And, indeed, I am not as yet determined; providence having ordered (I hope) that this seeming unkindness shall, in the end, prove very serviceable on all sides. However, though I have been thus hindered, yet, I think you heard from me last, and am really surprised to find you should, now so long since, have desired that collection of prayers, and be wholly unconcerned about them ever after. Indeed, they will be of no service to you, unless you grant me this one postulatum : “That we must renounce ourselves.” What the meaning of this phrase may be, the preface to the prayers will best inform you. I did not doubt of its meeting with but a cold reception, it being (at first view) so very contrary to flesh and blood. For, perhaps, you may think, that this renouncing of ourselves, must necessarily lead us (as it certainly does) to acts of self-denial and mortification; and, that we probably may be saved without them. And lest you should after all imagine, (which I trust you will not) that true religion does consist in any thing, besides an entire renewal of our natures into the image of God; I have sent you a book entitled, The Life of GOD in the Soul of Man,* written by a young, but an eminent Christian, which will inform you, what true religion is, and by what means you may attain it. As likewise, how wretchedly most people err in their sentiments about it, who suppose it to be nothing else (as he tells us page 3d) but a mere model of outward performances; without ever considering, that all our corrupt passions must be subdued, and a complex habit of virtues, such as meekness, lowliness, faith, hope, and the love of GOD and of man, be implanted in their room, before we can have the least title to enter into the kingdom of GOD. Our divine master having expressly told us, that “unless we renounce ourselves, and take up our cross daily, we cannot be his disciples.” And again, unless we have the spirit of CHRIST, we are none of his.” You will scarce have time, I imagine, before Mr. H. leaves Gloucester, to revile, what I have recommended to your perusal. However, be pleased to let me hear from you by him, together with an account of your free sentiments about this matter. I trust (by GOD’s grace) we shall, at last, rightly understand one another’s meaning. I should be glad to hear too, whether you keep morning prayers, and how often you receive the holy communion, there being nothing, which so much be-dwarfs us in religion, and hinders our progress towards the heavenly Canaan, as starving our souls by keeping away from the heavenly banquet. I have nothing more to add at present on this subject, till you favour me with a line, which, I hope, you will not cease doing by Mr. H. who will willingly bring it to,
Dear Sir,
Your sincere friend and very humble servant,
G W
* By Henry Scougal (1650-1678)

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