January 2, 2008

George Whitefield (1714–1770) on Preaching and the Love of God

We are to preach the gospel: to whom? To every creature: here is the commission, every creature. I suppose the apostles were not to see every creature; they did not go into all nations: they had particular districts: but wherever they did go they preached. Did you ever hear that Paul, or any of the apostles sent away a congregation without a sermon? No, no; when turned out of the temple they preached in the highways, hedges, streets, and lanes of the city; they went to the water side; there Lydia was catched. My brethren, we have a commission here from Christ; and not only a commission, but we have a command to preach to every creature: all that are willing to hear. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;" and if some shall say, they will not come if we do preach, would to God we tried them, "where the carcass is there will the eagles be gathered together." We are to preach glad tidings of salvation; to tell a poor benighted world lying in the wicked one the devil, their state and condition; we are to tell them, "God is love;" to tell them, that God loves them better than they do themselves. We must preach the law, but not leave the people there. We must tell them how Moses brings them to the borders of Canaan, and then tell them of a glorious Joshua that will carry them over Jordan; first to show them their wants; and then point out to them a Jesus that can supply, and more than supply all their wants. This we are to tell every creature: and it is for this that people stone gospel preachers. I do not think the prisoners would be angry with us if we were to tell them, the king commissions us to declare to them that they might come out of their prison, that their chains may be knocked off. If you was to go to one of them and say, Here you have your chains; and he was to say, I have no chains on at all, you would think that man's brain was turned: and so is every man's who does not see himself to be in the chains of sin and deceit. We are "to preach liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; sound the jubilee trumpet, and tell them the year of release is come:" that Jesus can make them happy.
George Whitefield, "The gospel, a dying saints Triumph," in Memoirs of Rev. George Whitefield, ed. John Gillies (New Haven:Whitmore & Buckingham and H. Mansfield, 1834), 520.

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