George Whitefield, 1714-1770

1714 Born in Gloucester, England, December 16.

1716 Father, Thomas, dies.

1722 Mother, Elizabeth, marries Capel Longden, an ironmonger, who seizes control of the family tavern (The Bell Inn).

1726 George enrolls at St. Mary de Crypt grammar school, where he enjoys reading plays and acting. Later drops out to help his mother with the inn.

1728 George’s mother leaves her husband. Family conflicts cause George to leave the Bell Inn and cease “drawing wine for drunkards.”

1730 Returns to his studies at St. Mary’s. On Christmas, receives the Lord’s Supper for the first time and determines to be more watchful over his thoughts, words, and actions.

1732 Enrolls at Pembroke College, Oxford University. Pays expenses by working as a servitor (errand boy for other students). Begins praying three times a day and fasting weekly.

1733 Invited to breakfast by Charles Wesley and introduced to the Holy Club’s 10 or 11 earnest members. Borrows from Wesley The Life of God in the Soul of Man by Henry Scougal, which “showed me that I must be born again, or be damned!”

1734 Like his Holy Club friends, seeks salvation through severe discipline and good works, which causes a breakdown of his health from which he never fully recovers.

1735 Following five years of penitence, Whitefield becomes first of the Oxford methodists to experience “a full assurance of faith broke in upon my disconsolate soul!” Begins evangelizing, with converts organized into a society.

1735 Leads the Holy Club (the Wesleys had become missionaries to Georgia). Completes his degree, is ordained a deacon in the Church of England, and preaches his first sermon. Returns to Oxford to pursue graduate studies, but then leaves to substitute preach for various friends. ...

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