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Largely forgotten today, George Whitefield was probably the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century. Newspapers called him the "marvel of the age." Whitefield was a preacher capable of commanding many thousands through the sheer power of his oratory. In his lifetime, he preached at least 18,000 times to perhaps 10 million hearers.
Whitefield was the main carrier of revival fire in America and England during the great Awakening. He met the Wesley brothers at Oxford and joined their 'Holy Club' where he was provoked to go deeper with God and was the first in the group be truly converted.
Encouraged by the Wesleys to assist in the care of an Orphan House in Savannah, Georgia, he sailed to America in 1737, aged 23. It was the first of seven visits during which he held open-air preaching meetings where remarkable scenes accompanied his ministry. Tens of thousands flocked to hear his irresistible eloquence and engaging fervour and thousands were converted as they listened.
He preached all over England, took fifteen trips to Scotland, two to Ireland, and one each to Bermuda, Gibraltar and the Netherlands. In each place the vast crowds were spellbound and there were scenes of uncontrollable distress. Whitefield stands head and shoulders above all other preachers of the gospel. His dramatic oratory, tear-bathed preaching and extemporaneous style appealed to the emotions of the crowds, wooing them into willing submission to the Saviour of men's souls.