Benjamin Franklin on the Preaching of George WhitefieldJuly 6, 2023
There may never have been before or after a preacher with the oratorical gifting that can match that of George Whitefield. He preached to thousands in the open air during the revivals of the mid- 18th century. Obviously, he had no amplification, other than the power of his own vocal cords. It is reported that when he preached in the church of Jonathan Edwards, the latter wept openly at the truth of what he heard.
Benjamin Franklin did not share Whitefield’s theology or devotion to Christ, but he was himself moved to generosity at the sound of his voice. In his Autobiography, Franklin describes what happened at one of Whitefield’s services:
“I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded, I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me asham’d of that, and determin’d me to give the silver; and he finish’d so admirably, that I empty’d my pocket wholly into the collector’s dish, gold and all.”
If I may be permitted to quote someone, I know not whom, Whitefield clearly preached the gospel better than I can. But he cannot preach a better gospel!