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
----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
And by the way, the liberal political machine is the tool of the devil
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
----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
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
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
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
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.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----
TO THE REVEREND
MR. GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
Written in the Year M DCC LV.
By CHARLES WESLEY
[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
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----
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 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
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
----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
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
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
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
----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
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
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.
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.