A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE WHITEFIELD

By Tim Lambert

George Whitefield was a famous preacher in the 18th century. George was born on 16 December 1714 in Gloucester. His father was an inn keeper. Whitefield was educated in local schools but in 1732 he went to Oxford University. While there he joined a 'Holy Club' led by John Wesley. Whitefield left university in 1736 and he became a deacon in the Church of England. In 1738 he sailed to Georgia. He spent 4 months in the colony before returning to England. Whitefield was ordained a priest in January 1739 and he began to preach in the open air.

However Whitefiled disagreed with John Wesley about predestination (the idea that God chooses who will go to Heaven). Whitefield believed in the idea but Wesley did not. In 1739 Whitefield returned to North America to preach. He traveled through the colonies sometimes preaching to crowds of thousands. Whitefield became a key figure in a religious revival in the colonies known as The Great Awakening.

In 1741 Whitefield returned to Britain where he continued to preach. In November 7141 he married a woman named Elizabeth but she died in 1768. Meanwhile in 1744 Whitefield went back to North America. He supported slavery. Whitefield said 'As for the lawfulness of keeping slaves, I have no doubt'. During his ministry Whitefield strongly disapproved of public entertainment such as concerts, dances and the theater (although heas a great showman himself.

In 1748 he returned to Britain. He returned to North America in October 1751 but he stayed only 6 months. Whitefield went to the colonies again in 1754 but he returned to England in 1755. He did not return to North America until 1763. He preached there until 1765. However by 1769 Whitefield was prematurely aged and unwell. He went to New England for the last time in 1770. George Whitefield died on 30 September 1770 aged 55. He was buried in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

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