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1739: Methodist preacher tells of his conversion

The front page of a 1739 Belfast News Letter

The front page of a 1739 Belfast News Letter

A copy of a private conversation of Mr. Whitfield’s taken down in writing after his leaving the room and brought to him by the rev. Mr. T-ck-r [sic], minister of All-Saints in Bristol, author of the Queries in the last week’s miscellany.

A copy of a private conversation of Mr. Whitfield’s taken down in writing after his leaving the room and brought to him by the rev. Mr. T-ck-r [sic], minister of All-Saints in Bristol, author of the Queries in the last week’s miscellany.

BEFORE I went to the university, I led, as I thought, a very religious life, I constantly attended the publick service of the church, received the sacrament, gave alms, fasted frequently fix and thirty hours, and in short, practised every moral and christian duty, insomuch that all that knew me look’d upon me as a saint. I then went to the university, where I began my studies in the usual manner, applying myself to mathematicks, and classical learning; and as God had given me a fruitful genius, a ready wit, and great sagacity, the college conceived great hopes of my making a pretty scholar, I also dedicated proper seasons to the reading of the sermons of our best divines, Sharp, South, Calmy, and some of Tillotson’s I have read since; M. Vesley has read him more; but his works I now look on only as a system of moral ethicks; but think he knew no more of true christianity than Mahomet. During this time I knew nothing of true christianity, nor was I inform’d what it was, till I had read a book, entitled, the life of God in the soul of man, a book worth its weight in gold. I now began to see the Necessity of new birth, and immediately changed my manner of Life; and as I had before made the dry sciences the chief of my study, I now applied myself wholly to the scriptures, and read other books only by the bye: the college seeing my course of life thus changed, began to dispair of me as a person disordered in my senses. For two years I underwent a series of temptations, and continual buffetings of the devil, which have in a high degree qualified me for the Ministerial office, in that I have experimentally tried all things, and having suffered every sort of temptations, can fruit my advice to the different states and conditions of other peoples souls, not to mention my being better qualified than other people for the composing of sermons, for I Have never preach’d any thing but what I have experimentally felt. [George Whitefield was a famous British preacher]

• This excerpt is as it appears including spelling in the May 22 1739 News Letter (June 2 modern calendar)

 

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