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provement; and, in one way or another, the occurrence of the week or the day, furnished him with matter for the pulpit.--A specimen : when an extraordinary trial was going forwards, he would be present; and on observing the formality of the judge putting on his black cap to pronounce sentence, I have known him avail himself of it in the close of a sermon; with his eyes full of tears, and his heart almost too big to admit of speech, dropping into a momentary pause—“I ain going now to put on my condemning cap: sinner, I must do it; I must pronounce sentence upon you—” and then, in a tremendous strain of eloquence, recite our Lord's words, “Go, ye cursed,” not without a very powerful description of the nature of the curse.
I again observe, that it would be only by hearing him, and by beholding his attitude and his tears, that a person could well conceive of the effect; for it was impossible but that solemnity must surround him, who, under God, became the means of making all solemn.
He had a most peculiar art of speaking personally to you, in a congregation of four thousand people, when no one would suspect his object. If I instance it in an effect upon the servant of the house, I presume it is not unsuitable. She had been remiss in her duty in the morning of the day. In the evening, before the family retired to rest, I found her under great dejection, the reason of which I did not apprehend; for it did not strike me, that in exemplifying a conduct inconsistent with the Christian's professed fidelity to his blessed Redeemer, he was drawing it from remissness of duty in a living character; but she felt it so sensibly as to be greatly distressed by it, until he relieved her mind by his usually amiable deportment. The next day, being about to leave town, he called out to her, “ Farewell ;" she did not make her appearance, which he remarked to a female friend at dinner, who replied, Sir, you have exceedingly wounded poor Betty,” which excited in him a hearty laugh; and when I shut the coach door upon him, he said, “ Be sure to remember me to Betty ; tell her the account is settled, and that I have nothing more against her.”
The famous Comedian, Shuter, who had a great partiality for Mr. Whitefield, showed him friendship, and often attended his ministry. At one period of his popularity he was acting in a drama under the character of Ramble. During the run of the performance he attended service on sabbath morning at Tottenham-court chapel, and was seated in the pew exactly opposite to the pulpit, and while Mr. Whitefield was giving full sally to his soul, and in his energetic address, was inviting sinners to the Saviour, he fixed himself full against Shuter, with his eye upon him, adding, to what he had previously said, “ And thou, poor Ramble, who hast long rambled from him, come you also. O end your rambling by coming to Jesus.”
Shuter was exceedingly struck, and coming in to Mr. Whitefield said, “ I thought I should have fainted; how could you serve me so?"-It was truly impressive to see him ascend the pulpit.
My intimate knowledge of him admits of my acquitting him of the charge of affectation. He always appeared to enter the pulpit with a significance of countenance, that indicated he had something of importance which he wanted to divulge, and was anxious for the effect of the communication. His gravity on his descent was the same. As soon as ever he was seated in his chair, nature demanded relief, and gained it by a vast discharge from the stomach, usually with a considerable quan
tity of blood, before he was at liberty to speak. He was averse to much singing after preaching, supposing it diverted the savour of the subject. Nothing awkward, nothing careless, appeared about him in the pulpit; nor do I ever recollect his stumbling upon a word. To his ordinary, as well as to his public appearance, this observation applies ; whether he frowned or smiled, whether he looked grave or placid, it was nature acting in him.
Professed orators might object to his hands being lifted up too high, and it is to be lamented that in that attitude, rather than in any other, he is represented in print. His own reflection upon that picture was, when it was first put into his hands, “Sure, I do not look such a sour creature as this sets me forth: if I thought I did, I should hate myself.” It is necessary to remark that the attitude was very transient, and always accompanied by some expressions which would justify it. He sometimes had occasion to speak of Peter's going out and weeping bitterly, and then he had a fold of his gown at command, which he put before his face with as much gracefulness as familiarity.
I hardly ever knew him go through a sermon without weeping, more or less, and I truly believe his were the tears of sincerity. His voice was often interrupted by his affection, and I have heard bim say in the pulpit, “ You blame me for weeping, but how can I help it, when you will not weep for yourselves, though your immortal souls are upon the verge of destruction, and for aught you know, you are bearing your last sermon, and may never more have an opportunity to have Christ offered to you.” His freedom in the use of his passions often put my pride to the trial. I could hardly bear such unreserved use of tears, and the scope he gave to
his feelings ; for sometimes he exceedingly wept, stamped loudly and passionately, and was frequently so overcome, that for a few seconds, you would suspect he never could recover; and when he did, nature required some little time to compose herself.
You may be sure, from what has been said, that when he treated upon the sufferings of our Saviour, it was not without great pathos. He was very ready at that kind of painting which frequently answered the end of real scenery. As though Gethsemane were within sight, he would say, stretching out his hand-“ Look vonder! what is that I see! it is my agonizing Lord !”—And, as though it were no difficult matter to catch the sound of the Saviour praying, he would exclaiin,“ Hark! hark! do not you hear ?"-You may suppose that as this occurred frequently, the efficacy of it was destroyed : but, no; though we often knew what was coming, it was as new to us as though we had never heard it before..
That beautiful apostrophe, used by the prophet Jeremiah, “ ( earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord,” was very subservient to him, and never used impertinently,
He abounded with anecdotes, which though not always recited verbatim, were very just as to the matter of them. One, for instance, I remember, tending to illustrate the efficacy of prayer, though I have not been able to meet with it in the English history-it was the case of the London apprentices be. fore Henry the Eighth, pleading his pardon of their insurrection. The monarch, moved by their sight, and their plea, Mercy! mercy !” cried, them away, I cannot bear it.” The application you may suppose was, that if an earthly monarch of Henry's description, could be so moved, how forcible
is the sinner's plea in the ears of Jesus Christ. The case of two Scotchmen, in the convulsion of the state at the time of Charles the Second, subserved his design; who, unavoidably obliged to pass some of the troops, were conceiving of their danger, and meditating what method was to be adopted, to come off safe: one proposed the wearing of a scullcap; the other, supposing that would imply distrust of the providence of God, was determined to proceed bare-beaded. The latter, being first laid hold of, and being interrogated, “ Are you for the covenant?" replied, “ Yes ;” and being further asked, " What covenant?" answered, “ The covenant of grace;" by which reply, eluding further inquiry, he was let pass; the other, not answering satisfactorily, received a blow with the sabre, which, penetrating through the cap, struck him dead. In the application, Mr. Whitefield, warning against vain confidence, cried, “ Beware of your scull-caps.” But here likewise, the description upon paper, wanting the reality as exemplified by him with voice and inotion, conveys but a very faint idea. However, it is a disadvantage which must be submitted to, especially as coming from my pen.
The difference of the times in which Mr. Whitefield made his public appearance, materially determined the matter of his sermons, and in some measure, the manner of his address. He dealt far more in the explanatory and doctrinal mode of preaching on a Sabbath-day morning, than perhaps, at any other time; and sometimes made a little, but by no means improper, show of learning. If he had read upon astronomy in the course of the week, you would be sure to discover it. He knew how to convert the centripetal motion of the heavenly bodies to the disposition of the christian towards Vol. II.-No. I.