George Whitefield’s Sermon “The Indwelling of the Spirit…”

For Sale: $9.95 George Whitefield’s Sermon, “The Indwelling of the Spirit, the Common Privilege of all Believers, A Sermon Preached at the Parish-Church of Bexly in Kent, on Whitsunday, 1739”. You can purchase this pamphlet from my Etsy page at the following link: Click here to purchase from my Etsy shop

According to Frank Lambert in his recent book entitled “Inventing the Great Awakening”, the year 1739 was somewhat of a turning point for George Whitefield. Lambert explains: “During spring 1739, Whitefield pieced together his revival style, element by element. Upon returning to London from Georgia in December 1738, Whitefield had alienated many clergymen because of his attacks on their lassitude in preaching and practicing the gospel. Consequently, five pastors announced they would no longer allow him to preach in their pulpits. Forced from churches, he preached outdoors. The first occurrence was in Kingswood near Bristol, where he viewed the ‘poor colliers, who are very numerous…as sheep having no shepherd.’ ” (Lambert, p. 96) In fact it was not out the norm for Whitefield to preach in a parish church on Sunday morning, and in the open fields on Sunday afternoon. And in fact, Mr. Whitefield followed the exact course of action on Whitsunday, 1739, (which according to our Book of Common Prayer, fell on June 10, of that year). Mr. Whitefield writes the following in his journal for June 10: “Hasten’d back to Blendon, where more of our Brethren came last Night to see me.—Preached with more Power than ever, and assisted in administering the Sacrament to about 200 Communicants in Bexley Church.—Din’d, gave Thanks, and sung Hyms at Mr. Delamot’s.—Preached with great Power in the Evening on Blackheath, to above 20000 People, and collected sixteen Pounds seven Shillings for the Orphans.” Perhaps, it is not difficult to understand why Mr. Whitefield “Preached with more Power than ever” when considering the topic of his sermon. If Whitefield delivered this text with as much passion as it was written, then it doubtless had a strong effect on his audience. His aim seems to be two-fold: first and foremost, to show that his topic was correct Biblically, but secondly, to also show his listeners that his intepretation was not in conflict with the historic doctrines of the Church of England. To illustrate his second point, he quotes several examples from the Book of Common Prayer. On page 10 of his sermon, he says, “And to those, who are to be ordained Priests, the Bishop is to repeat these solemn Words, Receive thou the Holy Ghost, now committed unto thee, by the Imposition of our Hands—And yet, Oh that I had no Reason to speak it, many that use our Forms, and many that have witnessed this good Confession, yet dare talk and preach against the Necessity of receiving the Holy Ghost now, as well as formerly; and not only so, but cry out against those, who do insist upon it, as Madmen, Enthusiasts, Shismaticks {sic}, and Underminers of the Established Constitution.” Whitefield ends this sermon with at least four pages of a gospel invitation to be saved, and for “all to come to Jesus Christ by Faith.” He is indeed preaching in an established Anglican parish church and not in the open fields, but he does not come anywhere close to assuming that all his listeners are born-again Christians.
From a typographical perspective, there is something very unusual about sermon printing. In the eighteenth century certain letters were combined to make what is called a ligature. In the example on the left, the “long-s” and the next adjacent “t” are combined correctly into one type piece in the word “Christ.” However, on the example on the right, these two letters are not combined into one single “s-t” ligature type piece as they typically would have been. In our sermon, on page 1, the “s-t” ligatures are there (as shown on the left picture). However, on pages 2 thru half of page 7, the “s” and “t” letters are separate (as illustrated on the right). Nevertheless, on the lower part of page 7 thru page 9, the ligatures are back. On page 10 thru 11, they are missing again. On page 12, they are back, but on pages 13 thru 16 they are missing. On pages 17 and 18, the ligatures are back once again, but on pages 19 thru 22, they are gone. I can only imagine how this happened. Maybe one apprentice had his way of doing things and another one had his way, and both were convinced that their way was right. This sounds like a typical day at my office.

 

Endnotes:
Lambert, Frank. Inventing the Great Awakening, printed by Princeton University Press: Princeton,
New Jersey, 1999.
The Book of Common Prayer, And Administration of the Sacraments, etc., printed by John Baskett:
London, 1734. (as reproduced by www.18thcenturybibles.org).
Whitefield, George. A Continuation of the Reverend Mr. Whitefield’s Journal : during the Time he
was detained in England by the Embargo, The Fourth Edition, printed by W. Strahan: London,
1739, (as contributed by the Princeton Theological Seminary Library, and accessed on the
Internet on 3/1/2010 at http://www.archive.org/details/continuationofre04whit).