A letter by Sarah Edwards, wife of the famed New England pastor, Jonathan Edwards, written to her brother, James Pierpoint of New Haven. Her letter is about the visit of the English evangelist, George Whitefield, who came to Northampton in October, 1740.
October 24, 1740
Dear Brother James,
I want to prepare you for a visit from the Rev. Mr. Whitefield, the famous preacher of England. He has been sojourning with us, and after visiting a few of the neighbouring towns, is going to New Haven, and from thence to New York.
He is truly a remarkable man, and during his visit, has, I think, verified all we have heard of him. He makes less of the doctrines that our American preachers generally do and aims more at affecting the heart. He is a born orator. You have already heard of his deep-toned yet clear and melodious voice. It is perfect music.
It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible. I have seen upwards of a thousand people hang on his words with breathless silence, broken only by an occasional half-suppressed sob.
He impresses the ignorant, and not less, the educated and refined. It is reported that while the miners of England listened to him, the tears made white furrows down their smutty cheeks. So here, our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day-labourers throw down their tools, to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected. A prejudiced person, I know, might say that this is all theatrical artifice and display; but not so will anyone think who has seen and known him.
He is a very devout and godly man, and his only aim seems to be to reach and influence men the best way. He speaks from a heart aglow with love, and pours out a torrent of eloquence which is almost irresistible. I wish him success in his apostolic career; and when he reaches New Haven, you will, I know, show him warm hospitality.
Yours in faithful affection,
George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, Arnold A. Dallimore, Cornerstone Books, volume 1, 1970, pp. 538-39.