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In Their Own Words

June 05, 1739

Whitfield’s Preaching Style Recorded

In London, the Earl of Egmont recorded in his diary of George Whitefield’s preaching style, which would become famous in both America and England:

“This evening Mr. Whitfeild [sic] came, attended by Mr. Seward and one of the Wesleys, to Woolwich Common, where a crowd of people (as usual) expected him to preach. A table was prepared for him, on which he got and made a sermon, which with a psalm and a long prayer lasted two hours. My wife went in her coach to hear him, and brought me word that he preached with great earnestness, often spreading his hands, but there was nothing in his doctrine she had not heard before, only he said that the common clergy do not preach the true doctrine of Christ, and inveighed against the polite men of the age. That he was called a madman and enthusiast, and made others so, but God would judge him revilers at the last day for all their hard speeches of him. My wife gave them money for the orphan house, and Mr. Seward presented him a book of hymns, published by John and Charles Wesley, two Methodist divines, his companions.

“This Seward was a broker in Exchange Alley, by which business he got £8,000, three of which he carries with him to Georgia, where he goes to assist Mr. Whitfeild in erecting an orphan house. he told my wife that in a year and a half Mr. Whitfeild designs to return and go all over England preaching.”

Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. III, p. 64.