In an age where whatever is at the top our news feeds takes precedence, it can be easy to forget and discount the foundations upon which our current practices were built, even within the Church.
Certainly, church practices and some aspects of thought change with the times and the culture, but every once in a while, it’s helpful to look back and realize that, at the core, those in the Church have always struggled with and clung to the same truths we do today.
There have been many great leaders throughout church history, but few preachers were as influential to the Western church as George Whitefield. One of the founders of Methodism, Whitefield helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain and across America in the mid-1700s. He was one of the most famous religious leaders of his age, and though he tends to be largely forgotten today, he still has a lot to teach us.
This marks Whitefield’s 302nd birthday. To honor the occasion, here are some of his best quotes drawn from his sermons:
On the Soul
The care of the soul is ‘a matter of the highest importance;’ beyond anything which can be brought into comparison with it.
On Causing Offense
It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.
On Facing Opposition
If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed … In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.
God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.
On Reliance on God
What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!
For, if we have not charity, we are not Christians: charity is the great duty of Christians.
On the Message of the Gospel
Whoever reads the gospel with a single eye, and sincere intentions, will find, that our blessed Lord took all opportunities of reminding his disciples that His Kingdom was not of this world; that His doctrine was a doctrine of the Cross; and that their professing themselves to be His followers, would call them to a constant state of voluntary suffering and self-denial.
Believers keep up and maintain their walk with God by secret prayer. The spirit of grace is always accompanied with the spirit of supplication. It is the very breath of the new creature, the fan of the divine life, whereby the spark of holy fire, kindled in the soul by God, is not only kept in, but raised into a flame.
On Moving Forward
Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.
On Being Childlike
When our Lord says, we must be converted and become as little children, I suppose He means also, that we must be sensible of our weakness, comparatively speaking, as a little child.
Lord help me to begin to begin.
God is well pleased when all our actions proceed from love, love to Himself, and love to immortal souls.
On Accepting Christ
As Christ was born of the Virgin’s womb, so must He be spiritually formed in our hearts. As He died for sin, so must we die to sin. And as He rose again from the dead, so must we also rise to a divine life.