Olde Paths &
Ancient Lndmrks

Christian Issues

Book Room

Tape Corner

Contact us


Vol. 1, No. 9
Sept., 1992

Slacks & Women

by Glenn Conjurske

A sermon preached on July 24, 1991; recorded and transcribed; revised and abridged by the author.

Turn with me to Romans, chapter 12. I'm going to speak to you tonight on women and slacks. Before I get into that, however, I am going to talk to you about some general principles. In fact, I'm going to talk about some general principles for a long time before I get into the subject of women and slacks, because I think if you understand the general principles, you'll understand the details. If you don't understand the principles, you won't understand the details.

Romans chapter 12, verse 2, says, “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” There are two words in the Bible which are translated “world.” (Actually, there are more than two, but two that I'm going to talk about.) One is the word kosmos, which means order, or system. This is the ordinary word that is translated “world.” The other is the word aion, which may also be translated “age.” I believe they both refer to the same Satanic system, kosmos perhaps more under the idea of the order or the system of the thing, and aion more from the standpoint of time. He says, Be not conformed to it.

Now I have no objection at all if you want to translate that “Be not conformed to this age.” I think it's a good translation. You see, the world is not a static thing. The world does not stay stationary, but is moving. It does not stay the same. It's not getting better, of course. It's getting worse, always coming closer and closer to the fulfillment and the realization of all the devil's designs in it. There's one verse in Ephesians 2:2 where these two words, aion and kosmos, are used together, and this may give a little bit of understanding concerning the exact sense of this word aion, or “age.” It says, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world.” The word “course” here is aion. The world is not a static or stationary thing. It's moving toward a goal. It's moving along certain well-defined lines, toward a very well defined goal----of course all under the direction of Satan, as it goes on to say, “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”

It says you walked according to the course of this world, you followed the pattern, the course, the progression that the world is taking, according to the prince of the power of the air, that is, the devil, who is the ruler who has the authority of this system----the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience. “NOW.” He is now working, and he's not working haphazardly. The Bible says that the mystery of iniquity doth already work, and that mystery of iniquity has a very well defined goal before it. That goal is that the devil is going to bring on the scene his man, the man of sin, and bring together the whole world under one government, under one religious system, all worshipping the antichrist. That's the devil's end. He's not working haphazardly. He's not merely going around with a pop gun taking pot shots at folks to stir up trouble. He does stir up trouble, but he's working toward an end.

Now we're going to look a little at the character of the devil. Revelation chapter 9, verse 11: “They had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” “Apollyon” means “a destroyer.” The devil is a destroyer. What does he destroy? You say, the souls of men. Of course he does, but that's not all. It is the devil's purpose to destroy everything that comes from God. Everything that God sanctions, everything that God puts his stamp of approval on, the devil is out to destroy. Specifically, throughout history there have been certain things that the devil has directed all of his animosity against, and endeavored to destroy them. Can anybody tell me what those things are? Quickly, a word or two.

“The Jews.” The Jews! is the first one.

“The Church.” The Church! Any more?

“The home.” The home!

“The Bible.” The Bible! All right, you folks know pretty well what the devil is out to do. Now I want to talk a little about those things. First of all, the Jews. There is a thing in the world called antisemitism, which is translated into English, hatred of the Jews. Where did that come from? It comes from the devil. If the devil could destroy the Jews, he would win a great victory over God. There have been various times in the history of the world, especially since the death of Christ, when the Jews have been as God said they would be, scattered and peeled. Various efforts have been made to exterminate them. One you're all familiar with is the holocaust in modern Germany, where six million Jews were killed. What did Hitler have against the Jews? I don't know what Hitler had against the Jews, but I know he was animated by Satan, and Satan's purpose is to destroy the Jews. The devil is at work in the world right now to gather together the whole world against Israel. It's his purpose to destroy Israel. Why? Because Israel is chosen of God. If Israel were not the chosen of God, the devil wouldn't have any more against Israel than he has against Cuba. He's against it because of God's purposes for Israel.

He has wrought the same way with the Bible. There was a time in Old Testament history when all there was left of the Bible was one forgotten copy hidden in the rubble in the temple. And all through the dark ages the Bible shared about the same fate. Bibles were chained in monasteries where people didn't have any access to them. It was a crime to read the Bible. Scores were burned at the stake for reading the Bible. They were burned at the stake for possessing a Bible, burned at the stake for translating the Bible, and the Bibles themselves were burned when the authorities could get their hands on them.

Of course the Church is another thing the devil has sought to destroy. For the first several centuries that the church existed the devil's animosity was stirred up against it in such a way as to drive the Christians into the catacombs, and into the deserts and dens and caves of the earth, and they were massacred by the thousands. They were dipped in pitch and put up on a pole and lit on fire to create light for the Gentiles to watch lions eat the other Christians. The devil has labored to destroy the Church ever since the Church has existed.

Now if you'll turn with me to the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, you will see how the devil operates. This chapter is not a chronological account of anything. This chapter gives the character of things, and in this chapter is set forth the character of the devil and the character of his work. And so it says, “There appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she being great with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Rev. 12:1-4). The dragon is the devil, as it tells you in the ninth verse. The child of course is Christ. Why would the dragon want to devour him as soon as he was born? Because he came from God. The only reason that the devil needs to oppose anything is that it is of God, and that is the main point I want to make tonight. I want you to get a hold of this. The reason that the devil is against what he is against is because it's of God. That's the only reason he needs, and anything that is of God he will put forth all his powers to belittle, to ridicule, and to destroy.

Well, he was unsuccessful: he did not destroy the man child when it was born. But it says in verse 13, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child,” and in verse 17, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Here you see the inveterate opposition of the devil to Israel, and especially to the remnant of her seed in the latter days who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And of course his endeavor is to destroy them.

Now the Bible speaks of the “course of this world.” As I said, the world does not stay the same. It never changes in its evil character, but it comes closer and closer to the realization of the devil's ultimate designs. The Bible speaks of the grapes of the vine of the earth becoming fully ripe. What does that mean? It means when the purposes of the devil have been fulfilled, when the mystery of iniquity is come to its full fruition, and the devil has gained all of his points and has established all of his purposes. When all of the iniquity which is in the heart of Satan has actually been accomplished in that system which is called the world, then God is going to put in his sickle and cut it down. (Rev. 14:14-20). That hasn't happened yet. But while the mystery of iniquity works, and while the vine of the earth is not yet ripe, there is a progression always moving closer and closer to the ultimate goal of Satan.

Now in our times we see as never before in history the maturing of Satan's goals. He has opposed the Jews ever since there have been Jews. He has opposed the book of God ever since there has been a book of God. He has opposed the Church and endeavored to destroy it ever since there has been a Church. But in our day we see the devil as it were getting more desperate, and he is opposing, and quite successfully opposing, many of those things which he has perhaps not dared to oppose in the past history of all the world. One of those things is the family. It's only in the past few generations that the devil's animosity towards and opposition to the family has become really apparent in the world. Now you see, he begins, as I do believe, in subtle ways----with the industrial revolution and the technological revolution, by which he succeeded in taking the fathers out of their homes a good share of the time. Then the public school system, by which he succeeds in taking the children out of the homes; and finally the modern feminist movement, by which he succeeds in taking the women out of the homes also, so that the family for many people exists only in name. There is no family life left.

And by the way, the liberal political machine is the tool of the devil----never has been anything else----and the liberal political machine is pressing hard to get the children out of the home at a younger age, starting with day care centers, then government-financed day care centers, and the next thing will be mandatory day care centers from the age of three. Why? Because the devil is out to destroy the family.

One other thing that the devil has been very successful at destroying in our past generation is marriage. How does he do it? Well, first of all by making divorce acceptable. That's the first thing. Divorce rates have been on the rise year after year, until now over half the marriages that are ever formed end in divorce. The next step is to say, Why get married in the first place? Marriage, as you know by your own experience and observations, is one of the most universal and strongest desires of the whole human race. How then does the devil go about destroying marriage? By destroying the morality which makes marriage what it is----by teaching alternate life styles----and this of course is what is taught in the public schools of this land every day under the patronage of the liberal political machine, which is the devil's tool. It's the devil that's behind all of this. It is not mere human beings. It's the devil that's behind it.

As I said, the fact that all of these things are coming to fruition in our generation only indicates that the devil is being successful in our generation to bring to accomplishment the things that have been his purpose from the beginning. The mystery of iniquity has been working all these years, but God has been hindering. But God will yet remove the restraint, and allow the devil to gain his ends. As Revelation 13 plainly tells you, the devil is going to come to the place of absolute power and authority over the whole world, so that he holds the whole world in the palm of his hand, and is worshipped by the whole world, and everything which is of God is destroyed, as far as the devil can destroy it. The success which the devil has had in just the past generation or two in destroying the family is amazing, and he's not done yet.

When I was in high school I read a book called Brave New World, by Aldus Huxley. The book was written in 1932. I read it because I was given to understand that it was a bad book. I was in the business of reading bad books in those days. At the time I had little ability to understand what the point was, but once I came to understand the Bible and understand what the devil's purpose is, then all the things in that book which I read and didn't understand made perfect sense to me. The Bible says the devil is the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. Huxley was obviously a son of disobedience. He was a piece of clay in the devil's hands. The things that his book set forth very clearly were all of the things which make up the devil's purpose to destroy everything on this earth which comes from God, or has God's sanction upon it. Now some of the things that I remember in that book (speaking purely from memory now, after the lapse of about thirty years) are these: all the church buildings were converted to museums or something of that sort. Why? Because the church is something that is of God, and the devil and his ilk want to get rid of it. By the way, the title of that book is very significant: BRAVE NEW WORLD. It's exactly the spirit of the second Psalm, which says, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” It's something of God, so we're going to get rid of it.

Anyway, the churches were all eliminated. The next thing is the family. Another thing I remember about that book is that all babies were produced in the laboratory. “Mother” and “Father” were swear words in this brave new world. The family destroyed, obliterated. Morality destroyed. Why? Why destroy morality? Because it's something from God. The blueprint laid down by the devil in Huxley's brave new world was that contraceptives were given to all the children in school. It's happening today. Your tax money pays for it.

Now in this you see the purpose of the devil to destroy, overthrow, ridicule, get rid of, by fair means or foul, everything that is of God, and everything that has God's sanction: morality, the Church, the Bible, the family----and the family is one of the main objects of the devil's attack at the present time. And the world, by the way, has taken up Huxley's book and turned it into a classic. It's still being pushed in high schools and colleges all over this land, long after his other books have been forgotten. It was a novel when he wrote it, but the world, especially the educational world, takes it seriously, for it answers so well to their heart.

Now there's another thing----you can turn with me to the first chapter of Genesis----there's another thing which the devil just in our day, in our life time, has directed all of his powers against, and that is the distinction between the sexes. In Genesis l:27 we read, “ So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him: MALE AND FEMALE created he them.” This is something that comes from God, the distinction between the sexes. God didn't create man as the “unisex” which modern liberals are trying to create. He created two sexes, male and female. He created them to be different, and the devil is bending all of his powers in our day against that difference. Why? Because it's of God, and that's the only reason the devil needs. I'm not telling you that the devil has just started doing this in our generation, but he has been very largely successful in our generation, and is working hard on it.

Now the way that the devil has done this is very interesting. He started with women, with the feminist movement, which is now more than a hundred years old. He did this the same way he worked when he tempted Eve in the garden. He said, “Ye shall be as God.” You see, he had a bait on the hook. He had something to offer to the woman: “Ye shall be as God.” The devil has used precisely the same strategy in destroying the distinction between the sexes. He came to the woman first, and said, “You can be as the man is.” The man has by creation and by God's authority a higher position than the woman. I'm not saying he's any more human, or any better, or any more intelligent, or anything of the sort, but he has a higher position. He has something that the devil could hold out to the woman as a bait, and say, “Why shouldn't you be able to have the same place that the MAN has? Why shouldn't you be able to do the same things that the MAN does?” This is the foundation of the feminist movement, from its beginning to this very moment.

So the devil put this juicy bait on the hook. Do you think the devil cared anything about the woman----to exalt women? He doesn't care any more about the woman than he does about the man. He doesn't care anything at all about anybody. He hates us all, and he hates everything that comes from God. The devil is not working to exalt the woman, or to give her equality, or to redress her wrongs, or any such thing. He's just giving her a bait on the hook, and his ultimate purpose is to destroy the distinction between the sexes, because God created it.

Now I tell you, I can sympathize with the feminist movement. I can understand it. When a woman takes that hook from the devil, at least it's got a bait on it. At least she's got something to gain by it----to rise to the position which the man has. But you know when these men take that hook from the devil, they're taking a bare hook. There isn't any bait on it. These men that are trying to be like women----there isn't even any bait on the hook. They've got nothing to gain.

How does the devil destroy the distinction between the sexes? Well, whatever there is in society which tends to maintain that distinction the devil opposes and endeavors to destroy. Now there are a number of things which maintain that distinction. Hair for one thing, and this is a distinction which God himself has made. The devil has labored to destroy that distinction, and my! he's done a good job of it! You see a couple walking down the street today holding hands, and you don't know if you've got two men, or two women, or one of each. And if you've got one of each, you don't know which is which.

Another thing which distinguishes men from women is their clothes. Well, you may say, “God never made pants for the man, and God never made a dress for the woman: he made coats for both of them.” May be, but God did make a distinction between male and female, and God does design that that distinction should be maintained, and he does design that that distinction should be maintained in their dress. It says in Deut. 22:5 that it's an abomination for a man to put on a woman's garment, and it's an abomination for a woman to put on that which pertains to a man. That distinction came from God, and that's why the devil is against it.

How did the devil destroy it? Well, you go back into the history of the Church a hundred years ago, and there were some very godly women who were exercised that perhaps since God made coats for both Adam and Eve, perhaps the women shouldn't be wearing dresses and the men wearing pants. And therefore they determined, “We're going to wear the same garment that the men wear, because God made coats for both Adam and Eve.”

Is that what happened? NO!!! It was the ungodly, and you know it was----and not only the ungodly, but the vocal ungodly, the feminist movement, which I know you ladies wouldn't have anything to do with, which said, “We're going to wear the men's clothes, and not only that, we're going to cut our hair like the men cut theirs. We don't have to wear long hair, and we don't have to wear long dresses. We're going to be on the same level as the men, and not only that, but we're going to work on the same jobs as the men do.” That's something that came a little later. When this movement started they weren't looking for that. They wanted a symbolic equality, but they weren't thinking about digging ditches outside alongside the men. But you see, once this thing became entrenched among feminists as a religion, they cannot be satisfied until they are out digging ditches with the shovel beside the men at the construction sites, and until they're fighting beside the men in the army, and until they're drafted, too. It's the devil that initiated all that, and its the devil that is carrying it forward. Why? Because God created them male and female!!----and therefore the devil is against it.

The liberal political machine, of course, is doing the devil's work in this as in everything else, and one of the big issues of our day is what's called “sex discrimination.” It's been made against the law to discriminate against people on the basis of sex. Why? Because the devil is out to destroy the discrimination which God created into the human race when he made them male and female. The devil is the prime mover in all of this, and his purpose is to destroy and obliterate everything that's of God, and the distinction between the sexes is something that God created.

Now for 500 years men have worn pants and women have worn dresses. That was one thing that distinguished them by outward appearance. Everybody knows it. If someone says the woman wears the pants in the family, everybody knows that means she takes the man's place. It's an old proverb, and a more ancient form of it, which comes I suppose from before the word “pants” was invented, says, “She wears the breeches.” It was the feminist movement that broke down that distinction, and it's the devil that's behind it. These poor feminists are just pawns in the devil's hand.

Now what does that have to do with us? You may say, “I'm not sure that when it says in Deuteronomy that a woman should not put on that which pertains to a man, I'm not absolutely sure that that means that it is always wrong, in every place and age and circumstance, for a woman to wear a pair of slacks.” And you know what? Neither am I! But I am sure that women wearing slacks in our day has been brought about by the working of Satan to destroy the distinction between the sexes, and I will have nothing to do with it. I want to be on the safe side, and I think if we're going to stand for that which is of God, and stand for Bible Christianity, we'd better get off the world's side, and get off the world's side all the way. With me it's a simple matter of keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. I know where this stuff came from. I know where women wearing slacks came from. It came from exactly the same place as gay pride. It came from the devil. It came from exactly the same place as women wearing short hair. It came from exactly the same place as women demanding equality with the man. It came from exactly the same place as this modern movement which destroys marriage and teaches alternate life styles. It came from the devil.

Now the fact that you grew up wearing slacks is all beside the point. You might have grown up in a home where divorce was acceptable too, but it's not acceptable to God. You may have grown up in a home where the parents weren't even married. That's beside the point. It's not acceptable to God. It's of the devil. It's part of the devil's over-all purpose to destroy everything that comes from God. It's just one small facet of that purpose. With me it's a simple matter of being on the safe side. I know where this feminist movement comes from, I know what its goal is, and I know who the spirit is that energizes the movement. I know that his reason for it is to destroy and oppose everything that comes from God, and his primary purpose in getting women to wear slacks is to destroy the distinction between male and female, because it's something that God created.

You say, “Well, I'm not sure of that.” Don't worry about being sure of it, but take this ground: say, “I would rather give up too much for Christ's sake than not enough.” We have got a testimony that we need to stand for. The times in which we live are desperately wicked, and the need is desperately urgent, and we had better give up too much for Christ rather than not enough. It isn't going to hurt you to give up slacks. It isn't going to hurt the testimony of the church. But it might hurt you to keep them. It might hurt the testimony of the church. This business of women wearing slacks is only one small facet of the devil's over-all program and purpose, and if you don't view it that way, then you don't see it in its true light. You may think that it's not an evil thing. You grew up wearing slacks, and you didn't intend any evil by it----but the devil did.

And you know, the devil isn't done yet. He's got a great deal more to do on this than he's done yet. I'm not a prophet, but if I were a betting man I might be willing to bet that before long you're going to see men wearing skirts. You already see them wearing necklaces and earrings. You already see men with long hair, and it wasn't very long ago when no red-blooded man would have been caught dead with earrings or long hair. They don't have anything to gain by it. They're biting on the devil's bare hook. Women had something to gain by it, and therefore they did it first, a long time ago. And therefore because women have been wearing slacks for 80 or 100 years already, you grew up with it, and because you're familiar with it, and it's not something new like men wearing skirts, therefore you're comfortable with it. But I'll tell you, if you had lived a hundred years ago, and you had seen the first woman that wore slacks, you would have been just as offended by that, and it would have been just as revolting to you, as it would be now for you to see a man wearing a skirt.

By the way, what's the difference between a man wearing a skirt and a woman wearing slacks? There isn't any difference at all! When women started wearing slacks it was inspired by the devil----it was to undermine and destroy something that God created, the difference between male and female. When women started cutting their hair short it was exactly the same thing, inspired by the same devil, and for the same purpose. And when men started wearing their hair long, which is in my memory, it was inspired by the same devil. When men started wearing earrings and necklaces, it was inspired by the same devil, and when men start wearing skirts, it will be inspired by the same devil, and it will be part of the same purpose and program of the devil that put slacks on women. Of course when it happens you'll be offended. You'll be revolted by it. You'll say it's of the devil. Then it's of the devil for women to wear slacks, too.

Of course the devil started putting slacks on women long before he could even dream of putting skirts on men, for the simple reason that he had a bait to give to the woman. He had something to offer her so that she would take a bait and follow out his program. He doesn't have anything to offer to a man. When a man starts wearing long hair or earrings and necklaces or skirts, he's biting on the devil's bare hook. The devil had nothing to offer him. Therefore of course he started with the woman----started making the woman like the man first, before he could dare to make the man like the woman. But it's all part of the same program.

Now you may contend that slacks as such and dresses as such have no divine sanction----it's just a matter of culture----and I won't even argue that point with you. But listen: slacks on men and dresses on women are one of the most obvious distinctions between men and women, and have been for hundreds of years, recognized by the whole world. I mean in our society now; I'm not talking about China or Turkey or some place. I don't know what they wear over there, but in our society this is a distinction that's recognized by the whole world. If you go today to the most liberal place in the state of Wisconsin (I'm talking about the University of Wisconsin), you can find there on the bathroom doors a little figure of a human being wearing a dress on the women's bathroom, and a little figure of a human being wearing pants on the men's bathroom. No words----doesn't say “men” or “women”----just a little figure wearing a dress or a little figure wearing pants, and everybody knows that DRESS means WOMAN and PANTS means MAN. The devil is determined to suppress and break down and destroy and obliterate the distinction between the sexes, and this distinction in clothing, this distinction between pants and dresses, is one of the most obvious distinctions, one of the things that appears to the eye at first glance, and we would be FOOLS to contribute to the devil's purpose in that. We've got a business to do for God here, and we had better be on the safe side, and keep altogether away from anything the devil has a hand in. Give up too much for Christ rather than too little. Stay too far away from the devil's purpose and program rather than getting too close to it. Keep yourselves unspotted from the world!


Uncle John Vassar

“Soul Winner Rare, Oh, So Rare”

Compiled by the editor

The above subtitle is John R. Rice's description of “Uncle John Vassar,” as he was commonly called. He was a soul-winner extraordinary, and in his bold, direct dealing with individuals he has left an example to which men would do well to pay heed in this day of “friendship evangelism” (which generally means “no evangelism worth the name”) and “lifestyle evangelism” (which means “no evangelism at all”). Vassar adopted a method which was the very reverse of the soft and easy methods of the modern church, and pursued it with vigor throughout his life, and with such unparalleled success as to convince even those who were wary of his bold and tenacious pertinacity----and certainly with such success as will never be approached by those who use the soft methods of modern times.

The rest of this article will consist of extracts from his biography, describing and illustrating his manner of dealing with souls. The first is from the pen of A. J. Gordon, prominent Baptist of a century ago, who wrote the introduction to the book:

It was I think in the work of personal conversation with the unconverted that Mr. Vassar did his greatest work, and exhibited the most remarkable power. The intensity and boldness of his appeals, the tenderness and pathos of his entreaty, the tireless patience of his struggle for conquest was something which I never saw approached, and which I now remember with the greatest admiration. That old Puritan phrase, “Closing in with the sinner,” expresses what he invariably did when he approached the unconverted. He grappled with the soul like a spiritual athlete. His whole bearing was that of one who knew himself to be wrestling, “not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers.” He had every weapon at instant command, and used each in turn as with the sharpest insight he saw what was needed. It was now the “terror of the Lord” and now “the love of Christ,” now the freeness of salvation, now the certainty of “the wrath to come,” all brought to bear with such tearful tenderness that the effect was often perfectly overwhelming. And I do not exaggerate, when I say that his subjects generally had to surrender or to flee, such was the vehemency of his approaches. What always struck me as most remarkable in his personal conversations was their absolute abruptness. In scores of interviews of the sort which I have witnessed, I never once remember his introducing his subject with any preliminary remarks. He came at once to the theme. His first question, after the ordinary salutation, was generally the vital question, “My friend, will you kindly permit me to ask, have you been born again?”

This method I think he adopted deliberately, as having been proved by years of experience the wisest. Noticing the shock and revulsion which this abrupt approach sometimes produced, I used to regret that he was not more circuitous in his advances. But I confess that with larger experience I have changed my mind and come to the conclusion that this directness is one of the most vital conditions of success in personal conversation. It does not require long experience to teach one the danger of starting a train of general conversation when dealing with the unconverted. For such a current once started the tide may easily become so strong that it will be found exceedingly difficult to divert it into the desired channel. Indeed, if the person addressed desires to avoid the subject, he will often do his best to prevent this result, by keeping up a strain of rapid and distracting talk and even leading on if possible into light and trivial discussion, to turn aside from which into the subject of personal salvation will be far more abrupt and difficult than it would have been to strike the subject at the outset.

We must remember that this personal dealing with men is often a duel of wills. And in this duel the strongest and most athletic will be likely to conquer, other things being equal. Hence it is a fair question with the spiritual gladiator, how to get the advantage of his antagonist. He should adopt the best possible strategy, and aim to effect by his alertness and skill what he might fail to accomplish by main force. Hence John Vassar's method was to strike a man at once with the most direct and vital question which could be brought to bear. Instead of hinting by a lengthened introduction what he proposed to do, he did it before his subject had time to gather himself up or brace himself against the attack. And no sooner was the battle opened than it was followed up with the intensest rapidity, by appeal, and argument, and warning, and entreaty, all ending in a most fervent and melting plea at the throne of grace that the Spirit would seal his words to him who had heard them.

The results were various, of course. The person addressed was always stunned and startled, sometimes made angry; but in multitudes of cases wounded into life. There was never the slightest tinge of severity, mark you, in the abruptness. If there was a tremendous grappling with the soul, it was a battle in which tears and entreaties were the prevailing weapons; and no rebuffs or abuse could ever draw from him a single impatient utterance. It was not his harshness but his intense earnestness that so roused men. Indeed you can well imagine what would be the result for a man of this sort to go through some street in proud, cultivated, aristocratic Boston, ringing every doorbell and confronting every household with the greatest question of the new birth. And this is what he did repeatedly when he labored with me. I generally heard from his visits, and sometimes in anything but complimentary terms. But he left an impression which could not be shaken off, and from which fruit, in some cases, was gathered years after. In a very appreciative notice of him by a well-known minister he speaks of the habit of going from house to house with his inevitable question, and says, “I have known him to set a whole town in an uproar by this spiritual census-taking. But when his sub-soil ploughshare had turned a community upside down, then was the time for fruitful work.” And that is true. The very offence which he so frequently gave, was often the open door into hearts hitherto hopelessly closed.

I must refer again to the method of direct and immediate approach in dealing with souls, in order to emphasize its importance. I believe it to be the first and almost the highest condition of success in the work.

Once in trudging along a snowy road he was overtaken by a gentleman in a sleigh, who was personally a very estimable man, but not a Christian. He knew Uncle John by sight, and like many others did not admire him, but rather regarded him as fanatical or half insane. Whether to ask him to ride or not was the question in his mind. Courtesy said “Yes;” prejudice said “No.” Courtesy carried the day, however, and the invitation was given. An opportunity like that never was allowed to slip. The ride was not accounted of so much consequence, but there would be such a chance to press home truth as the Master had that day at the well of Jacob. It was embraced to the uttermost, and one man heard that hour salvation urged as he certainly never had heard it urged before. What the immediate effect was is not known, but a few months later this wayside hearer, then in the very prime of life, came to know experimentally the meaning of those words, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” Immediately after old things had passed away the two men met at church, and, deeply moved, clasped hands as brothers in the Lord. The circumstances must be very, very peculiar if they ever hindered him from pressing religion on the mind. He was not indelicate, or rude, or blustering in approaching men, but he remembered that one divinely inspired had said, “In season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort,” and so he could not stand “on the proprieties,” as many do. Near Fishkill he once made a call that seemed at first inopportune. A young man had just entered the house, who was soon to be married to an excellent Christian daughter in the home. The prospective husband claimed no hope in the Saviour. Either accidentally or purposely, we know not which, Uncle John was shown into the room where the parties were. He took in the situation at a glance, but, not in the least disconcerted, pressed on one of his two hearers the claims of God, and finding him more than half persuaded to accept of Christ, he closed the interview by proposing that the lady should herself then and there kneel and present the case of her friend to God. For a moment maidenly delicacy led her to hesitate; then seeing his evident concern they all bowed together, and she pleaded for the salvation of the man whith whom she was to walk the pathway of life. He was soon a partaker of her faith and trust, and stood beside her a fellow-labourer in the Church of Christ.

On one occasion, I cannot say whether I was more amused to see the familiar yet respectful assurance, or gratified to witness the startling directness with which he interrogated a brave colonel whom he had never seen before. A meeting had been concluded in front of the headquarters tent, and Uncle John had conversed and prayed with a young man who had shown deep conviction and anxiety regarding his sins. Utterly unconscious of human presence, and with a simplicity and earnestness which rose above all influences of time and place, and surrounded themselves with their own proprieties----silence, solemnity, and attention----he knelt with the lad in the midst of a crowd of bystanders, and prayed for him, for his comrades, for the officers of the regiment, and for the whole army. The vigorous colloquial language of the prayer, and its particularizing petitions, in which names and places and circumstances were freely mentioned, interested and impressed the hearers of it.. Conventionalities plainly had little to do with Uncle John's religion. The young man went away comforted, and trusting in God; and the crowd dispersed.

When going on what others regarded as “a forlorn hope,” he would go into the closet and beg for a special anointing, an enduement of power from on high, and then with a deepened confidence start out. “One day he went to call on a lady whose husband was a skeptic and a bitter opposer of religion. The man saw him entering the gate, and stepping to the door, said, `You are coming here to pray with my wife, I presume. Now let me tell you I don't allow any prayer in this house. Leave at once, and never show your face here again.' Uncle John hesitated a moment, then left, and going to his stopping place plead long and earnestly for help to reach that case. Rising from his knees, and `nothing doubting,' he went straight back to the house from which he had been less than an hour before repulsed. The man again met him, and after a moment's parleying told him that if he would not pray he might come in. Uncle John refused to make any such promise, but nevertheless got in. An urgent message from God was soon ringing in the unbeliever's ears, and before the interview ended, humbled and subdued he was bowing by the side of Uncle John listening to supplications for his own salvation.”

Again and again, when assured that a contemplated effort would be fruitless, that it would be the sinking of a bucket in a dry well, and the bringing of nothing up, he would beg the privilege of trying. He would get a church or a school-house open, and then explore the region to invite the people out. Almost invariably a revival would commence. Often God would triumph gloriously. Converts would be multiplied. Dull churches or dull Christians would get aglow. There would be apostolic work because it was underlaid and pushed with apostolic faith.

While laboring with me a few years since in Boston, he wished to call on a Christian gentleman who was living at one of our fashionable boarding-houses. A young friend of mine who went with him to show him the place reported what occurred. While waiting in the parlor to be shown to the gentleman's room, he opened conversation with a very fashionable and proud-looking lady who was sitting in the room. With great concern he began to urge the necessity of the new birth and immediate acceptance of Christ upon her. She was thunderstruck, and protested that she did not believe in any of those things. Then followed a most fervent appeal, texts of Scripture, warnings against rejecting Christ, the certainty of a wrath to come for any found in impenitence, till at last my friend said he was fairly alarmed at the boldness of the assault. Suddenly the gentleman came in for whom he was waiting and called him out. The friend sat watching from behind his newspaper for the effect of the interview. In a moment the lady's husband came in. “There has been an old man here talking with me about religion,” she said. “Why did you not shut him up?” he asked gruffly. “He is one of those persons you can't shut up,” was her reply. “If I had been here,” he said, “I would have told him very quickly to go about his business.” “If you had seen him you would have thought he was about his business,” was her answer. No truer tribute could be paid to him than that. Never did I see one who could “close in with a soul,” as the old Puritans used to phrase it, like him.

Uncle John's tenacity was wonderful. It was hard to shake him off. We entered a house of our congregation with him one day where we met a young man from Virginia who had come North to attend school. The others present being Christians, Uncle John soon fastened all the conversation upon him. We never saw him so press and push a soul. He had found a lost sheep, and seemed determined, “shepherd's dog” that he was, to keep at it till he had worried it home. Again and again we feared that he was crowding too hard and too far. But he had been out on many such a service before, and what he was about he knew very well. Before the house was left, a sincere penitent was on his knees pleading for mercy, and was soon rejoicing in Christ as his portion. Three or four years have gone since then, and the one so wrestled with, a useful and earnest Christian now, has many a time blessed the Lord that he was not given up that day.

----Uncle John Vassar, by his nephew, T. E. Vassar; New York: The American Tract Society, Twelfth Thousand, [enlarged edition], pp. 10-13, 75-76, 93-94, 192-193, 196-197, 200.


The wyse (soch as haue taught other) shal glister, as the shyninge of heauen: and those that haue instructe the multitude vnto godlynesse, shalbe as the starres, worlde without ende. ----Dan. 12:3, Coverdale Bible, 1535.

Forsoth thei that ben tau3t, schulen schyne as the schynyng of the firmament, and thei that techen many men to ri3tfulness, schulen schyne as sterres in to euerlastynge euerlastyngnessis.
----Dan. 12:3, Wycliffe Bible, c. 1388.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

George Whitefield

For some years all that I could get my hands on by or about George Whitefield were a little paperback biography of him by J. R. Andrews, and a modern paperback edition of his journal----revised by the publisher!----both of which I have since given away. The first real treasure I was able to find by him was the Memoirs of Rev. George Whitefield, by John Gillies, “Revised and Corrected, with Large Additions and Improvements [by whom I know not], to which is Appended an Extensive Collection of his Sermons and Other Writings.” This is an old leather-bound volume published in 1838 by Hunt & Noyes of Middletown, Connecticut. I found it in the “sermons” section upstairs in the old Baker Book House on Wealthy Street, and paid $9.00 for it. It is a book of 648 pages, divided about evenly between the biography and the sermons. This is a good popular biography, and the spirit of Whitefield and of early Methodism shines forth abundantly in this book. In recent years I have seen a reprint of this----alas, in paperback! Very recently I found a copy of the biography only (1812 edition), at a yard sale in a small town in Massachusetts, and paid $4.00 for it.

Whitefield is generally regarded as the greatest preacher of modern times, and from all accounts I suppose this to be the real fact. He lived in an era of great preachers, such as the Wesleys, Howell Harris, and Daniel Rowlands, and yet is said to have far exceeded them all. Knowing this, we are naturally eager to read his printed sermons. But they are generally a great disappointment. As an expositor or teacher he is poor, and I must say shallow. In exhortation he excels, and his printed sermons occasionally preserve some glimpses of this power----especially the short-hand reports of his extemporary preaching. But the printed page preserves only what is said, and that is by no means all there is to preaching. Whitefield's power was in his burning heart and his flowing tears. He moved men, made them weep, and made their hearts burn, by a power which cannot be put on paper. Those who attempt to find his power in his printed sermons will be baffled as well as disappointed. Several volumes of his sermons have been published, and I was fortunate to find his Sermons on Important Subjects, a large volume of 800 pages, containing seventy-five sermons, published in 1867 by William Tegg. I found this at Kregel's, and gladly paid $25 for it. His sermons, along with his letters and tracts, were published just after his death in The Works of George Whitefield, in six volumes.

A very good edition of George Whitefield's Journals is published by The Banner of Truth Trust; but one thing should be understood here: “Truth” in this publisher's name means “Calvinism” (just as it does in old John Gill's The Cause of God and Truth), and they must insert in their table of contents a statement from Arnold Dallimore which makes Whitefield the real founder of Methodism, and the Methodism which he founded a totally new movement from the original Methodism under the Wesleys. Such sentiments flow from the blindness of bigotry, and are ridiculous to men who can see.

In 1976 The Banner of Truth also published the first volume of Whitefield's letters, enlarged by the addition of many letters taken from Luke Tyerman's lives of Whitefield and Wesley, and also some worthwhile notes. To date they have never followed through with the publication of the other two volumes. But I thank God that years ago a friend gave me a photocopy of all three volumes, these being some of the very few books I have ever obtained without my own labor and expense.

One of my most valued possessions is The Life of George Whitefield, by Luke Tyerman. During the time that I lived in Grand Rapids, Kregels made several trips to England (where books of this sort are much easier to find than in America), and brought back thousands of books. I always kept a close eye on these proceedings, and as soon as the books were unpacked and shelved I was combing through them. It was thus I found this set by Tyerman, and willingly paid the high price of $40 for it, though I was very poor. This set is a great storehouse of information, in chronological order. Unfortunately, only the proper names are indexed, but according to my usual habit I noted down hundreds of items in reading each volume. Tyerman (who died in 1889) was one of Methodism's real historians, but he lived at a time when Methodism was very much on the decline spiritually, and he did not have the spirituality always to understand Whitefield, but he faithfully portrays him, leaving scarcely any detail untouched. The verbal accuracy of his quotations is not always to be depended upon. This cannot be due to carelessness, for there was nothing careless about Tyerman. The slight verbal revisions were no doubt made on purpose----a practice which I deplore.

It is painful but necessary to have to mention George Whitefield by Arnold Dallimore, published in 1970 and 1980 in two large volumes. It is disfigured by frequent insinuations against the character and motives of John Wesley. By this unworthy means he endeavors to aggrandize Whitefield (and Calvinism), and he does so with a great show of learning, continually quoting from original sources and documents. But the thinking reader will easily distinguish between the actual facts and the author's conclusions, opinions, and insinuations. Though these volumes contain much excellent information, I would discourage those who do not know both Whitefield and Wesley from ever opening them. Arminians have always loved and honored Whitefield as he deserves: why cannot Calvinists accord the same to Wesley? Some Calvinists indeed do so. The highest praise which can be given to one mortal by another has been given to John Wesley by C. H. Spurgeon, and by George Whitefield himself. If Dallimore had been a Calvinist of their stamp, he might have been fit to write a life of George Whitefield.

I am seldom content to read about any man of God, but remain unsatisfied until I can read what he himself has written. George Whitefield is certainly no exception to this, and yet I must allow that it is generally more edifying to read what others have written about him, than to read what has come from his own pen. As a writer he did not excel, and he rarely appears to advantage on paper. Neither his letters nor his tracts are any way to be compared to Wesley's. Wesley's style is terse and masculine, lucid and cogent. Whitefield's is weak and diffuse. He was primarily a man of action, whose constant motto was, “No nestling this side of eternity.” C. H. Spurgeon wrote of him, “Often as I have read his life, I am conscious of a distinct quickening whenever I turn to it. He lived. Other men seem to be only half-alive; but Whitefield was all life, fire, wing, force.” The first thing to be sought, therefore, in books on George Whitefield is a good popular biography, such as that by Gillies mentioned above. Other popular biographies are Life and Times of George Whitefield, by Robert Philip (1837), and George Whitefield, by Joseph Belcher (1857). Another popular work is The Prince of Pulpit Orators (1871), subtitled “A Portraiture of Rev. George Whitefield,” by J. B. Wakeley. The author was one of the tireless historians of Wesleyan Methodism who lived during the nineteenth century. He was, however, a mere collector of facts and incidents, which he usually published without any organization. But some of those facts and incidents happen to be of great historical value, and many of them are not likely to be found elsewhere.





Written in the Year M DCC LV.


[It is necessary to an appreciation of Charles Wesley's poetry to understand that he pronounced a number of words differently than we do. His meter is sometimes rough, but not nearly so rough as it would appear to a modern reader who is unaware of this difference in pronunciation. Examples which appear in the following poem are “Phi-lis-tines,” the verbs “per-fect” and “ce-ment,” “in-dis-sol-u-ble,” and “join” and “joined,” which he always pronounced as “jine” and “jined,” rhyming with “fine” and “find.” ----editor]


COME on, my WHITEFIELD! (since the strife is past,

And friends at first are friends again at last,)

Our hands, and hearts, and counsels let us join

In mutual league, to' advance the work Divine,

Our one contention now, our single aim,

To pluck poor souls as brands out of the flame;

To spread the victory of that bloody Cross,

And gasp our latest breath in the Redeemer's cause.

Too long, alas! we gave to Satan place,

When party-zeal put on an angel's face;

Too long we listen'd to the cozening fiend,

Whose trumpet sounded, “For the faith contend!”

With hasty blindfold rage, in error's night,

How did we with our fellow-soldiers fight!

We could not then our Father's children know,

But each mistook his brother for his foe.

“Foes to the truth, can you in conscience spare?

“Tear them, (the tempter cried,) in pieces, tear!”

So thick the darkness, so confused the noise,

We took the stranger's for the Shepherd's voice;

Rash nature waved the controversial sword,

On fire to fight the battles of the Lord;

Fraternal love from every breast was driven,

And bleeding charity return'd to heaven.

The Saviour saw our strife with pitying eye,

And cast a look that made the shadows fly:

Soon as the day-spring in His presence shone,

We found the two fierce armies were but one;

Common our hope, and family, and name,

Our arms, our captain, and our crown the same;

Enlisted all beneath Immanuel's sign,

And purchased every soul with precious blood Divine.

Then let us cordially again embrace,

Nor e'er infringe the league of gospel-grace;

Let us in Jesus' name to battle go,

And turn our arms against the common foe;

Fight side by side beneath our Captain's eye,

Chase the Philistines, on their shoulders fly,

And, more than conquerors, in the harness die. }

For whether I am born to “blush above,”*

On earth suspicious of electing love,

Or you, o'erwhelm'd with honourable shame,

To shout the universal Saviour's name,

It matters not; if, all our conflicts past,

Before the great white throne we meet at last:

Our only care, while sojourning below,

Our real faith by real love to show:

To blast the aliens' hope, and let them see

How friends of jarring sentiments agree:

Not in a party's narrow banks confined,

Not by a sameness of opinions join'd,

But cemented with the Redeemer's blood,

And bound together in the heart of God.

Can we forget from whence our union came,

When first we simply met in Jesus' name?

The name mysterious of the GOD UNKNOWN,

Whose secret love allured, and drew us on

Through a long, lonely, legal wilderness,

To find the promised land of gospel peace.

True yokefellows, we then agreed to draw

The' intolerable burden of the law;

And jointly labouring on with zealous strife,

Strengthen'd each other's hands to work for life;

To turn against the world our steady face,

And, valiant for the truth, enjoy disgrace.

Then, when we served our God through fear alone,

Our views, our studies, and our hearts were one;

No smallest difference damp'd the social flame:

In Moses' school we thought, and spake the same:

And must we, now in Christ, with shame confess,

Our love was greater when our light was less?

When darkly through a glass with servile awe,

We first the spiritual commandment saw,

Could we not then, our mutual love to show,

Though fire and water for each other go?

We could:----we did:----In a strange land I stood,

And beckon'd thee to cross the' Atlantic flood:

With true affection wing'd, thy ready mind

Left country, fame, and ease, and friends behind;

And, eager all heaven's counsels to explore,

Flew through the watery world and grasp'd the shore.

Nor did I linger, at my friend's desire,

To tempt the furnace, and abide the fire:

When suddenly sent forth, from the highways

I call'd poor outcasts to the feast of grace;

Urged to pursue the work by thee begun,

Through good and ill report I still rush'd on,

Nor felt the fire of popular applause,

Nor fear'd the torturing flame in such a glorious cause.

Ah! wherefore did we ever seem to part,

Or clash in sentiment, while one in heart?

What dire device did the old Serpent find,

To put asunder those whom God had join'd?

From folly and self-love opinion rose,

To sever friends who never yet were foes;

To baffle and divert our noblest aim,

Confound our pride, and cover us with shame;

To make us blush beneath her short-lived power,

And glad the world with one triumphant hour.

But lo! the snare is broke, the captive's freed,

By faith on all the hostile powers we tread,

And crush through Jesus' strength the Serpent's head. }

Jesus hath cast the cursed Accuser down,

Hath rooted up the tares by Satan sown:

Kindled anew the never-dying flame,

And re-baptized our souls into His name.

Soon as the virtue of his name we feel,

The storm of strife subsides, the sea is still,

All nature bows to His benign commmand,

And two are one in His almighty hand.

One in His hand, O may we still remain,

Fast bound with love's indissoluble chain;

(That adamant which time and death defies,

That golden chain which draws us to the skies!)

His love the tie that binds us to His throne,

His love the bond that perfects us in one;

His love, (let all the ground of friendship see,)

His only love constrains our hearts to' agree,

And gives the rivet of Eternity! }


Who Is the Father of Methodism?

by Glenn Conjurske

“John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.” These words appear on page two of The Great Awakening, by Joseph Tracy (a Calvinist), published in 1841, and reprinted in 1976 by the Calvinist publishing house The Banner of Truth Trust. In calling John Wesley the founder of Methodism Tracy is only incidentally stating an obvious fact, but that fact has been denied in recent years by Arnold Dallimore, author of a large biography of George Whitefield, and by Iain Murray, of the Banner of Truth Trust.

In the interests of Calvinism, these men have sought to thrust George Whitefield into John Wesley's place as the father of Methodism. In the interests of truth, I desire to set the record straight, by setting before the reader such facts as will establish beyond cavil who is the real father of Methodism.

John Wesley was the father of Methodism as early as 1729, when George Whitefield was an ungodly youth in pursuit of the pleasures of the world. The “holy club” had taken its rise at Oxford while John Wesley was at Epworth, but when John returned to Oxford in 1729, he of course became the head of it, and it was John who made Methodism what it was. “Charles Wesley paid the utmost deference to his brother, and all the Methodists acknowledged his fitness to be their chief director.” The Methodists were then serving God with all their might, with more zeal than knowledge, 'tis true, but they feared God and worked righteousness, endured the reproach of Christ, sought to be Christians indeed in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and thus established the spirit of the movement, though as yet ignorant of some of its important doctrines.

Whitefield was yet pursuing the pleasures of sin, but in the course of time he also began to have thoughts of being a Christian. He ignorantly engaged in a round of religious duties for a year before going to Oxford in 1732. The Methodists “were then much talked of at Oxford. I had heard of, and loved them before I came to the University; and so strenuously defended them when I heard them reviled by the students, that they began to think that I also in time should be one of them.” Yet it was a full year before he became one of them---through the zeal of Charles Wesley rather than by his own choice. His early Journal relates at length how the Methodists, especially the Wesleys, led him forward in the knowledge and the fear of God. Clearly, then, Whitefield was neither father nor founder of anything here.

None of the Methodists at this time had any clear understanding of salvation by faith, nor any clear assurance of the forgiveness of their own sins. Whitefield describes them thus: “Never did persons, I believe, strive more earnestly to enter in at the strait gate. They kept their bodies under even to an extreme. They were dead to the world, and willing to be accounted as the dung and offscouring of all things, so that they might win Christ. Their hearts glowed with the love of God, and they never prospered so much in the inward man, as when they had all manner of evil spoken against them falsely without.” Thus they were seeking salvation, but did not profess to have obtained it.

Though Whitefield was the first of the Methodists to enter into the knowledge of present salvation (in 1735), he yet regarded John Wesley as his spiritual father. In 1739 he wrote concerning his conversion, “From time to time he [John Wesley] gave me directions as my various and pitiable state required; and, at length, by his excellent advice and management of me, under God, I was delivered from those wiles of Satan.”

Some time after he had found peace with God, he wrote to Wesley, who had gone to Georgia, “At length I have an opportunity of writing to my spiritual father in Christ.”

At the close of 1740, in his letter of opposition to Wesley's Arminian doctrines, he yet says, “I love and honour you for his sake; and when I come to judgment, will thank you before men and angels, for what you have, under GOD, done for my soul.”

Of the rest of the Methodists he wrote in 1739, “The world, and not themselves, gave them the title of Methodists, I suppose, from their custom of regulating their time, and planning the business of the day every morning. Mr. John and Charles Wesley were two of the first that thus openly dared to confess Christ; and they, under God, were the spiritual fathers of most of them.”

Plainly thus far, then----at least in Whitefield's estimation----Wesley was the father of everything, including Whitefield himself. But to evade the force of this, Murray and Dallimore declare that the revival which began to awaken the nation in 1737 was a totally new movement from the earlier Oxford Methodism. This assertion is absurd, and proves only to what lengths men will go when they have a doctrinal ax to grind. We readily grant that Methodism made advances from the early Oxford days, in both doctrine and experience. This is just as we would expect, for “unto every one that hath shall be given.” (Matt. 25:29). The “one that hath” in this parable is the one that hath and makes a proper gain by the zealous use of what he hath----and this was the character of Methodism from the beginning. But the advances which Methodism made did not affect the spirit or the essential character of the movement. From the outset (under John Wesley) it was devoted to the zealous pursuit of vital Christianity, by taking up the cross, denying self, serving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and, as a consequence, bearing the reproach of Christ and the offense of his cross. In all of these things Methodism never changed, though both Whitefield and the Wesleys advanced in both experience and doctrine----or, as we might state it, grew in both grace and knowledge. To say that Whitefield's Methodism of 1737 was a “totally new movement” is directly in the teeth of the facts of history. But men who view everything in relation to a pet doctrine often incapacitate themselves from seeing or understanding such facts.

Whitefield himself certainly did not view the case so. Though he was the first of the Methodists to rise to renown among the general populace, this no more makes him the founder of Methodism than it makes him the founder of Christianity. He was the first to gain the assurance of his own salvation, and he was the first to make a deep impression upon the general population, but all the while he acknowledged John Wesley as his own spiritual father. And of the Medthodist movement he wrote (two years after Dallimore's “totally new movement” supposedly began): “Mr. John and Charles Wesley were two of the first that thus openly dared to confess Christ; and they, under God, were the spiritual fathers of most of them. They had the pleasure of seeing the work of the Lord prosper in their hands before they went to Georgia. Since their return, the small grain of mustard-seed has sprung up apace. It has taken deep root. It is growing into a great tree. Ere long, I trust, it will fill the land, and numbers of souls will come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and lodge under the branches of it.” This is indisputable. Whitefield regarded Methodism as one movement from the beginning. Still later he wrote, “My dear and honoured friends the Reverend Messrs. John and Charles Wesley, being now for some time embarked for Georgia, and one or two more having taken Orders, the interest of Methodism, as it was then and is now termed, had visibly declined, and very few of this reputed mad way were left at the University.”

Thus it plainly appears that some years after Murray and Dallimore's “totally new movement” is supposed to have begun, with Whitefield at the head of it, Whitefield himself certainly regarded Methodism as one and the same movement from the beginning. That “in the popular view” Whitefield may have been regarded as the father of the movement is not surprising, but it is nothing to the purpose. The popular mind may not have known that Methodism existed until they were introduced to it by the preaching of George Whitefield, and they first saw him already prepared for his great life work, without any knowledge of the man and the movement which had made him what he was. But in spite of all of the facts, some will yet persist in believing that the “popular view” was the correct one, and that Whitefield himself was wrong in regarding Methodism as one movement from the beginning, with John Wesley at its head. In support of this they contend that the original Methodism was legal, while the “new movement” which Whitefield inaugerated in 1737 was evangelical. But it is doubtful that in 1737 Whitefield had any better understanding than Wesley did of doctrines which could be termed evangelical, and it is certain that what he preached at that time was not the evangelical message which characterized Methodism at a later date. The staple of Whitefield's preaching in 1737 was, “Ye must be born again,” but his ideas as to how this was to be brought about would hardly be called evangelical by anyone today.

“On the 2nd of October”----1738, almost two years after his initial successes in England----“he wrote a long letter `to the inhabitants of Savannah,'

----a sort of pastoral epistle----in which he strongly insists upon that which had so often been the subject of his sermons----`the new birth in Christ Jesus----that ineffable change which must pass upon our hearts before we can see God.' `The author of this blessed change,' says he, `is the Holy Ghost; and the means to attain this Holy Spirit, you know, and the way you know.' It is a remarkable fact, however, that, whilst specifying the means, as 1. Self-denial; 2. Public Worship; 3. Reading the Scriptures; 4. Secret Prayer; 5. Self-examination; and 7. Receiving the blessed Sacrament,----there is not a word about faith in Christ; and, further, it is equally remarkable that, until after this, the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ only, is never even mentioned in any of Whitefield's published sermons, nor in any of his private letters to his friends.”

On this let two observations suffice:

1. It would be difficult to say wherein the terms of salvation preached here by Whitefield differ from those of the early Oxford Methodists.

2. If any man were to come preaching such means of salvation today, Murray and Dallimore would doubtless be among the foremost in condemning him as legal.

Whitefield's own statements seem to present some discrepancy. A little sense and wisdom, however, should be able to sort the facts out of them.

On the one side, writing in 1739 of his experience in 1735, he says: “About this time God was pleased to enlighten my soul, and bring me into the knowledge of His free grace, and the necessity of being justified in His sight by faith only. This was more extraordinary, because my friends at Oxford had rather inclined to the mystic divinity; and one of them, a dear servant of the Lord, lately confessed he did not like me so well at Oxford as the rest of his brethren, because I held justification by faith only.”

“What is meant by this?” asks Luke Tyerman. Dallimore echoes the same question, and plainly acknowledges that these words could not then have meant to Whitefield what they did in 1739.

Of his early preaching (1737) Whitefield wrote: “The doctrine of the new birth and justification by faith in Jesus Christ (though I was not so clear in it as afterwards) made its way like lightning into the hearers' consciences.” Yet we have seen already Tyerman's statement as to the absence of this doctrine from the actual content of his sermons at this time, and a contemporary account tells the same story: “Whitefield was young and modest, but an earnest preacher. He said little, however, of justification through the Saviour, but forcibly insisted on the necessity of being born again. In this way, he arrested the attention of many, particularly of the young, and led them to seek the salvation of their souls. They fasted, they wept, and they strove; but how salvation was to be effected they knew not.”

And observe, Whitefield clearly states here that he was not so clear then in the doctrine as he was “afterwards.” Further, it was “afterwards” (and later than “afterwards”) when he wrote this account, and we must bear in mind that the memory often superimposes our present views upon our past experiences. The facts which we have already considered, along with some others I am about to present, practically require us to believe that this was the case in these statements of Whitefield.

I turn to another statement of his, of great importance, and the more so because it was written at the very time the events were transpiring, and not months or years “afterwards.” Be it remembered that in his letter of instruction on the new birth, as late as October of 1738, Whitefield made no mention of justification by faith. The Wesleys had been preaching it with all their might for at least four months before this. It was in October of 1738 that Whitefield left Georgia to return to England. In December of the same year he met the Wesleys, and wrote, “The old doctrine of justification by Faith only, I found much revived, and many letters had been sent concerning it to me, all which I providentially missed; for now I come unprejudiced, and can the more easily see who is right. And who dare assert that we are not justified in the sight of God merely by an act of faith in Jesus Christ, without any regard to works past, present, or to come?” The part of this statement which concerns justification by faith Dallimore fails to quote, though he culls from all around it. Why would he omit so important a statement as this? It militates against his view of the subject, no doubt, but what of that? An impartial historian would certainly have quoted this, and Dallimore here gives us proof enough that he is not an impartial historian, even if he did not prove it abundantly elsewhere. There is no way we can arrive at a true view of the subject while we ignore or suppress a statement like this one. Taking all of Whitefield's statements together, along with such other facts as we know, I believe we may safely conclude thus:

Some time after Whitefield himself found peace with God, he came to understand the fact that we are saved by faith, though at that time he had very little understanding of the meaning of that fact. His early preaching contained little reference----none, if his surviving sermons and letters are to determine the matter----to salvation by faith, and certainly manifest no clear understanding of the matter. While Whitefield was in Georgia, John Wesley learned the doctrine of justification by faith from the Moravians, entered into the heart-felt experience of it, and began to preach it with such consistency and forcefulness that Whitefield, on his return from Georgia, found it “much revived.” The revivers of it were the Wesleys, who had learned it from the Moravians, and with all of this George Whitefield had nothing to do. Many had written to him concerning the doctrine thus revived, but he had received none of the letters, and therefore, “providentially,” was able to come on the scene “unprejudiced,” and weigh the matter to see “who is right”

----the preachers or the opposers of the doctrine. Having arrived, he no doubt received a full and satisfactory explanation of the doctrine from the Wesleys, and----having been inclined to this doctrine for some time already----immediately embraced the fuller light, and took his place with the Wesleys as the preacher of it.

To sum up all:

John Wesley was the father of the Oxford Methodists, and it was he who gave it its original character of zealous commitment to serve God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and be an altogether Christian in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. This was the soul of Methodism, which was one movement from beginning to end, George Whitefield himself being judge.

John Wesley was the spiritual father of George Whitefield----so regarded by Whitefield himself----whose wise counsels conducted him safe through the snares of Satan to the salvation of his soul.

John Wesley revived and indelibly stamped upon the movement the doctrine of salvation by faith, while Whitefield was absent in Georgia, and had only vague conceptions of the doctrine. The full light he received from the Wesleys in December of 1738.

We readily grant that George Whitefield preceded John Wesley in some things, and exceeded him in others, but the fact remains that John Wesley was the father not only of Methodism, but of Whitefield himself----and it is much to be doubted whether we would ever have heard of George Whitefield, had it not been for the influence upon him of John Wesley. We have no desire at all to detract anything from George Whitefield: we only write to counteract that bigotry which labors to detract from John Wesley.


George Whitefield's Tomb

Readers of old Christian biographies often meet with the singular fact that the remains of George Whitefield were open to view for many years after his death. Jesse Lee saw and handled them in 1790, and carried off a piece of the gown in which Whitefield was buried. David Marks saw them in 1834, J. B. Wakeley in 1870 (at the centenniel of Whitefield's death), and George Müller in 1877. Since the completion of the rest of the contents of this issue, the editor was privileged to visit the tomb of Whitefield, which is under the pulpit in the Old South (Presbyterian) Meeting House in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The crypt containing his remains (and those of Jonathan Parsons and Joseph Prince) is in the basement, which is reached by a rough wooden stairway. The whole scene is primitive and unostentatious, resembling the cellar of an old farm house. This is as it should be. The top of the crypt is an arch of brickwork, open at the end, resembling a cave in the wall. The three bodies lie in the bottom, Whitefield's in the middle. About 60 years ago they were covered over with engraved slate slabs, and are no longer open to view. The original cover of the head portion of Whitefield's coffin leans against one side of the crypt. I and the friend with me knelt on the steps before the crypt and prayed to the God of Whitefield, who still lives, and is able to do again what he did two centuries ago. Around the building are various relics and mementos of Whitefield, including a copy of his life and sermons, 1838 printing, identical to mine, wasted in a glass case, open to the title page. The house in which Whitefield died still stands, three doors down from the meeting house, and is still a private dwelling. ----editor.

Editorial Policies

Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts articles by other writers if they are judged profitable for scriptural instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own views are to be taken from his own writings.