Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Beaten but Stronger

"George Whitefield was the most famous man of his day...and among the most hated. In a crude and spiteful age, the barrage against him was particularly venomous He was accused of all the usual misdeeds with money, women and fame. But there was so much more. The strange squinting of the eyes that childhood measles left him caused the hostile press to call him, 'Dr. Squintum.' There was even a play by that name, written to expose him to a jeering public. If he gained weight he was a glutton. If he bought property for an orphanage, he was selfishly building an estate for himself. It was open season on Whitefield and all England seemed to take aim...
Then of course, there was the uniquely 'Christian' kind of attack. For some believers, a man cannot simply be wrong about a few things; he must be evil, possibly even controlled by a spirit. Certainly, he is part of a broader conspiracy of darkness, perhaps in league with the anti-Christ. He then becomes an enemy to drive out rather than a brother to restore. So it was with Whitefield, who surely heard the words, 'You have a devil' as often as he heard the word, 'Hello.'
None of this surprised Whitefield...yet had he been a lesser man, he might have been crushed and embittered by the barrage against him. The pain might have driven him from the ministry early, leaving him a broken, angry man. But Whitefield had acquired that condition of soul for which criticism becomes an enobling force. He had learned that criticism is like pain in the human body, giving needed information for healthy change. One can receive it as a blow and angrily nurse the wound. Or, one can regard the words as an eagle does a gust of wind -as a force upon which to fly still higher."
Stephen Mansfield, Forgotten Founding Father, the heroic legacy of George Whitefield, p.143-145...get the book!

1 comment:

EWZ said...

Thanks for the encouraging post... I recently enjoyed reading the first of two volumes in Dalliamore's Whitfield biography. I still need to do the second.

This post encourages me both to be careful how I evaluate those with whom I disagree, and to seek that "condition of soul for which criticsm becomes an enobling force" - I'm not quite there yet.

Eric Zeller