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of Halifax, in Yorkshire, accordingly wrote the following epitaph:
In Memory of
REV. GEORGE WHITEFIELD, A. M. Chaplaim to the Right Honorable, the Countess of Huntingdon,
Whose soul, made meet for glory, Was taken to Immanual’s bosom, On the 30th of Sept. 1770; And now lies in the silent grave, at Newburyport, near Boston, in NEw ENGLAND ; There deposited in hope of a jo. resurrection to eternal life and glory. He was a man eminent in piety, Of a humane, benevolent, and charitable disposition. His zeal in the cause of God was singular; His labors indefatigable; And his success in preaching the Gospel remarkable and astonishing. He departed this life, In the fifty-sixth year of his age.
And like his Master,was by some despised;
But their's shall be the everlasting crown,
something of the vanity and unsatisfying nature of all worldly pleasure, long before he knew where to seek for solid and substantial happiness. Many instances of this he used to relate; of which the following is a specimen. The annual fair at Halifax, which is kept on midsummer day, was a season to which he looked forward with the most eager expectation opleasure and satisfaction. But when this day came, he invariably found the most painful disappointment; in a few hours he grew weary of diversion, wandered about uite unhappy, and never could this extraordinary day afford him any satiso unless when he could retire from the noise and hurry of it, to enjoy the common recreation of bathing. It may not be ...'. here to introduce some account of an interesting part of }. life, which he has given in a work, entitled, Amyntas and Philetus, or Christian Conversation, pool in the year 1770. The reader, therefore, will not be displeased, if the memorialists retire a little, while he who is the subject of this sketch is introduced to speak (though dead) of the things which it pleased God to do for his soul. “My dear parents were of the establishment; and although filial duty, as well as christian charity, requires me to hope the best in behalf of them, yet I seldom or ever saw or ... any thing of religion but at church on the Sabbath day. They were, I believe, strictly honest in their dealings with men, supported a fair character, and appeared as religious as their neighbors, nor . they suspect, as church folks, that they could miss of salvation. I was taught to conceive of dissenters, as base hypocrites, a people that resembled the scribes and pharisees, against whom our Lord so vehemently inveighed, and denounced so many woes; that attempted to hide their wickedness by a deceitful pretext of superior sanctity. In consequence of these and the like things spoken of dissenters, and confirmed by instances I was then incapable of inquiring into, or judging of, I contracted .# unfavorable ideas of every sect of Protestant dissenters; and, I think, could vie with any in bigotry and zeal, thinking as highly of the church, as it was possible for any to think of
Whitefield was not quite fifty-six years of age at the time of his decease; thirty-four years of which he spent in the work
the meeting. But I can never sufficiently admire or adore the free, rich, and distinguishing grace of God to me; for although there was nothing of religion in our family, not even so much as the form ; and the way of life I was engaged in, from seven years old, not only unfavorable to, but quite destructive of all good morals, yet it pleased the Lord to preserve me from the filthy conversation of my necessary companions, and from learning and using the diabolical language, I mean of cursing and swearing, which was daily intermixed with the most familiar conversations. About the age of eleven, I began to be very thoughtful concerning a future state. The cogitations of the day afforded much matter for imagination in my sleeping hours, so that I often alarmed the family with the most lamentable shrieks and cries, occasioned by terrifying dreams of being shut out from God, and thrust into endless torments. These thoughts and dreams, produced an uncommon seriousness in my whole deportment. I diligently read the Bible, gladly catching every opportunity of attending public prayers at the church in the week days, prayed often and fervently in secret; and in secret it was, o: not being used in the family, I feared to be found in the practice of it. ese impressions, and the influences thereof, abode with me for the space of six years, during all which time I sought and expected the favor of God, and the acceptation of my person, solely on the account of my own righteousness. Nor is this at all to be wondered at, seeing all the sons of Adam naturally seek justification and life, by virtue of that law and covenant which he violated and broke in paradise. K. was this error in any wise corrected by any of the public sermons I then heard, all of which were more legal than evangelical, and the preachers rather sent the congregation for life to Moses than to Christ. About the age of seventeen, I began to learn psalmody, and for the space of more than ten years, I became extravagantly fond of all kinds of music; so that my affections were entirely captivated thereby, and in a great measure alienated from God; yet all that time the good spirit of God never left off striving with me, (if I may be allowed that expression) so that at certain seasons I was greatly distressed, and wished, “it were with me as in months past.” Sometimes (to use the hyperbolical phrase of the Psalmist) “I made my bed to swim, and water§ my couch with tears,' purposed and resolved to resume my former course of #. and relinquish the idol of my soul. About this time it pleased that God, whose eyes are ever upon the objects of his everlasting love, to favor me with an opportunity of hearing the gospel; and the spirit of God so opened my heart to attend to the things that were spoken, and shed such light on m understanding, that when I returned home, and began to read my Bible, it seemed to be quite another book, in respect to its doctrines, and the method of salvation published in it, from what I had till that time conceived it to be. From that memorable day the Lord was o to break my chain, and loose the bonds of my captivity, so that I could say with holy David, “My soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken, and I am escaped.’ My heart was now exceedingly rejoiced, and I again renewed my former resolutions of engaging my heart with God, and devoting my life to his service. And my gracious Redeemer was pleased to say “Amen' to my purposes and §. and bade me, with an efficacious word, take hold on his strength, which his good spirit enabling me to do, I was filled with ry and peace in believing. I no longer felt that narrowness of spirit, which I was under the power of before, nor thought salvation confined to name or party. I found that in Christ Jesus, it availed nothing what a man had been before his conversion, whether Greek or Jew, nor what modes of worship he afterwards preferred, seeing Christ is all and in all to them that believe in him. Since that happy period, although my backslidings and departures from God have been more than I can enumerate, and what I blush to mention, yet my dear Redeemer, glory be to his name ! having bought me at so dear a rate, and according to the greatness of that love, wherewith he loved me, would not, could not (for his tender heart forbade it,) forsake or cast me off.”
of the ministry. And surely, if life is to be measured by the greatest diligence and enjoyment; as being ever intent upon
From the above account it may be gathered, that about the year 1746 or 1747, he was first brought to a true knowledge of God, and of himself; soon after which it pleased the Lord to introduce him to public notice. As that part of his life, which preceded the above period, is rather involved in obscurity, we may conclude there could be nothing in it very interesting. He was always diligent in his business, and his morality was above the common standard; notwithstanding, as he afterwards acknowledged, he was living “without God and without Christ in the world.” Deeply convinced of the inestimable value of his own soul, he immediately became desirous of being an instrument in the hand of God of saving the souls of others. After much prayer and deliberation on this important matter, he ventured at length to go forth in the strength of the Lord, and to proclaim that Jesus came to save sinners. This was in the year 1749, for in a manuscript written with the trembling hand of infirmity, in the year 1792, he mentious that he had beenH." -three years engaged in publishing the precious truths of the §§ is first labors, it is well known, were among the Methodists in Mr. Wesley's connection; and having opportunities of preaching in various parts of the kingdom, he became signally and extensively useful. Many old disciples in that connection remember his name to this day with affection and gratitude. Having labored for some years in Mr. Wesley's connection, he found that he could no longer publicly insist upon certain points of doctrine maintained by that people. This occasioned some struggle in his mind, as to the propriety of his continuance in that connection, or separation from it. But after much deliberation, and earnest prayer, a separation appeared most eligible, and he determined peaceably to withdraw. This event took place about the spring of the year 1762. For a short season his mind was perplexed; not that he doubted his call to preach the gospel, but being unable to perceive to whom his future labors should be directed." The providence of God, however, soon delivered him from this embarrassment. A few faithful friends, to whom he had been useful, still adhered to him; and to them he continued to preach as opportunity permitted. These being soon increased by the addition of others, a scheme was suggested of erecting a house, in which they might more regularly assemble together. This plan was immediately adopted; but fresh difficulties occurred, as the parties concerned had no resources within themselves ual to such an undertaking. But they were soon taught that the word o is not bound, and that the Lord has the hearts of all men at his disposal. Such liberal contributions were obtained, as enabled them to accomplish their design. A house was erected, and a church formed on the independent, or congregational plan, of which Mr. Knight was ordained pastor, in the summer of 1763. This was a Bethel indeed. The word delivered within these walls was made effectual to the turning of many from the error of their ways, and to the building up of the people of God in their most holy faith. The congregation continually increasing, it soon became necessary to erect a gallery, as large as the building would admit. Here he labored with much assiduity and zeal, preaching twice on the Lord's day in the winter season, and three times in the summer, and giving a lecture on every Thursday evening throughout the year. He administered the Lord's supper regularly every month; and on the Friday evening preceding the celebration of it, he met the members of his church, and delivered an address suited to the approaching Solemnity. He established among his people several little societies, which assembled once a week, for the purpose of prayer and religious conversation. One of these societies met at his own house; and the rest he attended occasionally, as opportunity permitted. By the divine blessing on his public and private labors, the number of those who attended the preaching of the word became so great, that a larger and more commodious house was necessary for their reception. This was for some time considered as a thing rather desirable than attainable. At length, however, it was cordially set about, and2svery spacious and elegant structure
some praiseworthy design, and zealous in the accomplishment of it; redeeming the time by repeated acts of piety and benevolence, which characterize the worthy man and christian; having a heart constantly flowing with ardent love for the souls of
completed, which was opened in May, 1772. Here he exercised his public ministrations to very large congregations, till it pleased the Lord to incapacitate him for public service; and, to use his own expression, to reduce him from a working to a waiting servant. About the year 1764, his acquaintance with Whitefield commenced, which, under God, was the means of extending his usefulness very considerably. For, being invited by Whitefield to his pulpits, and his o being approved, he afterwards became one of the assistant preachers, and spent two months every year in preaching at the Tabernacle, Tottenham court chapel, Greenwich, Woolwich, and other places in the same connection. Mr. Knight had uniformly enjoyed a remarkable good state of health, till it so God to afflict him with a paralytic stroke, in the month of June, 1790 a short time, he was so far recovered, that he resumed his usual labors. But his mental faculties, especially his memory, had evidently sustained an injury. Of this he was himself very sensible, but bore the affliction with a truly christian submission. In the year 1791, he undertook his annual journey to London, but with a determination to preach more sparingly than usual. While in town, he was afflicted with a second paralytic stroke, which affected his understanding far more than the former. With great difficulty he returned to Halifax, and though, in a measure, he recovered from this stroke likewise, and afterwards preached several sermons, yet it left him so debilitated, that he was incapable of og his public services; and having preached, for the last time, on the 18th of September, 1791, from the convictions of his own mind, and the persuasions of his friends, he resigned the charge of his congregation. His patient submission to the divine will, was an instructive lecture to those who were around him. When he reflected on the decay of his mental faculties, he would sometimes say, “what an idiot I am become!” but immediately would add, “but no wrong is done to me. He that gave my faculties, has a right to take them away whenever he pleases, and he might justly have done so forty years ago.”. Being asked by one of his sons, concerning the feelings of his mind, he replied, “I am happy on two considerations; the one is, that I am not in hell; the other, that I am not afraid of ever going there.” At another time, when several of his family were together, the subject of politics was introduced, and something mentioned respecting the probability of the king of France losing his crown; upon which he observed, though scarce able to understand the subject of conversation, “I know a king who will not lose his crown, I mean king Jesus. He reigns, and ever will reign;” and with a flood of tears he added, “to him I wish you every one to submit.” His sight at length so failed, that he could neither read nor write; and his understanding and memory continuing to be impaired, he began to long for the hour of his dissolution. However, he seemed greatly afraid lest his desire to depart and to be with Christ, should betray him into impatience. After breathing, rather than living, for some months, he was, on Saturday morning, March 2d, 1793, mercifully released from the burthen of the flesh, and removed to a better and indissoluble mansion, in the 74th year of his age.
O much respected, such lamented friend,
men, and especially a servent desire to glorify God, accompanied by the deepest humility and self-abasement; Whitefield, in these thirty-four years, may be said to have lived more than most men would do, though their lives were prolonged for many
*Early on the morning after his death, Mr. Sherburne of Portsmouth sent Mr. Clarkson and Dr. Haven, with a message to Mr. Parsons, desiring that Whitefield's remains might be buried in his own new tomb, at his own expense; and in the evening several gentlemen from Boston, came to Mr. Parsons, desiri that the body might be carried there. But as Whitefield ha repeatedly desired that he might be buried before Mr. Parsons' pulpit, if he died at Newburyport, Mr. Parsons thought himself obliged to deny both of their requests. The following account of his interment is subjoined to this sermon, viz:—October 2, 1770. At one o'clock all the bells in the town were tolled for an hour, and all the vessels in the harbor gave their proper signals of mourning. At two o'clock, the bells tolled a second time. At three, the bells called to attend a funeral. The Rev. Dr. Haven of Portsmouth, the Rev. Messrs. Daniel Rogers of Exeter, Jedediah Jewet, and James Chandler, of Rowley, Moses Parsons, of Newbury, and Edward Bass, of Newburyport, were pall bearers. The procession was from the Rev. Mr. Parsons' of Newburyport, where Whitefield died. Mr. Parsons and his family, together with many other respectable persons, followed the corpse in mourning. The procession reached only one mile, when the corpse was carried into the Presbyterian church, and placed on a bier in the broad aisle, over which the Rev. Mr. Rogers made a very suitable prayer in the presence of about six thousand persons, within the walls of the church, while many thousands were on the outside, not being able to find admittance. Then the following hymn by Dr. Watts was sung by the
Why do we mourn departing friends?
'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
Are we not tending upward too,
Nor should we wish the hours more slow,
wo should we tremble to convey
Their bodies to the tomb 3
There the dear flesh of Jesus lay,