The Founder of the House of Mercy

The Founder of the House of Mercy

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The Founder of the House of Mercy

George Whitefield is often mentioned as a great religious figure and the founder of Methodism. This was because of his preaching in early America during “The Great Awakening, which was an 18th century movement of Christian revivals. As a great religious figure, he had the desire to do as much good as he could in the world and to bring as many souls as possible into the Redeemer’s Kingdom. He was a successful preacher because of the way he treated others and how he was devoted to preaching.

George Whitefield was born on December 16, 1714. He was the son of a widow who owned an inn at Gloucester. He was the seventh and youngest child of Elizabeth Edwards and Thomas Whitefield. He had a loving, generous, unselfish personality. (Abbey & Overton 265) He was raised at the Bell Inn and at about the age of 15, he left school. Instead of attending school, he helped his mother with daily work at the inn. Later on, his mother was visited by an Oxford student who encouraged George, to enter college. He came from a poor background so he couldn’t pay for his tuition. Due to this, he entered Oxford as a servitor, waking higher ranked students up in the morning, polishing their shoes, carrying their books, and sometimes, doing their work. After a year, he met John and Charles Wesley and joined the Holy Club. Charles allowed him to loan a book named “The Life of God in the Soul of Man” and Whitefield read it. After reading it, he became concerned for the state of soul. He then became passionate for preaching his new found faith, and at the age of 22, he was elevated to a degree of notoriety. (Abbey & Overton 265)

Whitefield’s first preaching was in the Crypt Church in Gloucester. He went to America in 1738 and became a priest of Savanna, Georgia. He started to preach in open air after churches refused to admit him. Around ten to twenty thousand hearers gathered just to hear him preach. The crowd included colliers, philosophers, and statesmen. (Abbey & Overton 265) Some could hardly keep from crying. Those who had heard him preach said that he had a fine presence and attractive features. (Abbey & Overton 266) They said that he had a magnificent voice that could be heard from a mile away and that it was not the words of the sermons that attracted them, but it was the drama he would put in while preaching and his powerful voice that attracted them.

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(Abbey & Overton 266) His preaching was formed of simple words. (Abbey & Overton 266) Outdoor preaching was what he loved most of all. (Abbey & Overton 266) When he was ill, he claimed that preaching would cure him. (Abbey & Overton 266) He even preached when he was a literally dying man. (Abbey & Overton 266) Preaching had become a big part of his life.

Another success of his is the orphanage he founded. Shortly after he arrived in Georgia, he had a determination to raise money for an orphanage. While traveling through the colonies, he collected money for this orphanage and his orphans. He finally raised enough money for the orphanage and then named it Bethesda, also meaning “House of Mercy”. It became one of his hobbies. In one of his sermons, Preached before the Governor, and Council, and the House of assembly, in Georgia, on January 28, 1770, he wrote “On March 25, 1740, in full assurance of faith, I laid the foundation of this house; and in the year following, brought in my orphan family, who, with the workmen, now made up the number of one hundred and fifty.” He believed that he and the orphans were a family. He had slaves working at the orphanage, which he called workmen. He believed all children were wicked, since they were willful. The orphanage was designed to discipline the children and to convert them into pious, useful citizens. In Georgia, there was a prohibition on slavery but then, it was introduced in 1749. Whitefield supported this. He had slaves working at the orphanage. He planned on turning the orphanage into a college which he failed to do. He died on September 30, 1707 before he was able to make it into a college. He left the Bethesda and the slaves to the countess or Huntingdon, who had sponsored some of his preachings. In the same sermon, Preached before the Governor, and Council, and the House of assembly, in Georgia, on January 28, 1770, he also said “And yet, after meditating and talking of the rise and progress of the gospel of the kingdom, I shall find it somewhat difficult to descend so low, as to entertain you with the small beginnings of this infant colony, and of the Orphan-house, in which I am now preaching.” He had also preached in the Bethesda, sometimes preaching to his workmen, or slaves.

Whitefield is still mentioned as the greatest evangelist,. His successes are still remembered, such as his orphanage. It still is up and running today. He is remembered for his powerful voice and how he appealed to the emotions of the crowds. He has passed away but is still remembered as one of the first to preach to the enslaved.

Bibliography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Whitefield
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1625
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16791/16791-8.txt
http://www.pioneernet.net/rbrannan/whitefield/sermons/WITF_057.HTM
http://www.fortunecity.de/lindenpark/hundertwasser/517/GeorgeWhitefield.html
http://www.victorshepherd.on.ca/Heritage/whitefield.htm
http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1624
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