The Christian Life In The Thought Of George Whitefield -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 18:2 (Summer 2014)
Article: The Christian Life In The Thought Of George Whitefield
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin

The Christian Life In The Thought Of George Whitefield1

Michael A. G. Haykin

Michael A. G. Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also Adjunct Professor of Church History and Spirituality at Toronto Baptist Seminary in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Haykin is the author of many books, including “At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word”: Andrew Fuller As an Apologist (Paternoster Press, 2004), Jonathan Edwards: The Holy Spirit in Revival (Evangelical Press, 2005), and The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction to Biblical Spirituality (Evangelical Press, 2007), and Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church (Crossway, 2011).

The final decades of the seventeenth century witnessed a distinct decline in public manners and morals in England. Attestation of this fact is found in both public documents and private testimonies. Here is the witness of one author, the London Baptist theologian Benjamin Keach (1640-1704), writing in 1701:

Was ever sodomy so common in a Christian nation, or so notoriously and frequently committed, as by too palpable evidences it appears to be, in and about this city, notwithstanding the clear light of the gospel which shines therein, and the great pains taken to reform the abominable profaneness that abounds? Is it not a wonder the patience of God hath not consumed us in his wrath, before this time? Was ever swearing, blasphemy, whoring, drunkenness, gluttony, self-love, and covetousness, at such a height, as at this time here?2

Despite the presence of a number of gospel-centered ministries like that of Keach and various societies which had been created to bring about moral

reform, homosexuality, profanity, sexual immorality, drunkenness and gluttony were widespread. And the next three decades saw little improvement.

The moral tone of the nation was set in many ways by its monarchs and leading politicians. The first of the Hanoverian monarchs, George I (r. 1714-1727), was primarily interested in food, horses, and women. He divorced his wife when he was thirty-four and thereafter consorted with a series of mistresses.3 Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), prime minister from 1722 to 1742, lived in undisguised adultery with his mistress, Maria Skerrett (d. 1738), whom he married after his wife died.4 As J. H. Plumb has noted of aristocratic circles in the early eighteenth century, the wom...

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