Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Elegies for Whitefield

We had a very good meeting at the Evangelical Library last night. Dr Andrew Atherstone took us through some of the many elegies composed and sermons preached at the time of George Whitefield's death in New England in 1770. These appeared first in New England and then in England when the news reached there. Sermons came first then poems, not all of the best quality.
This material has been rather neglected but is worth examining it was argued. Dr Atherstone highlighted the way they focus on five main things. They all lament the loss of such a great man. They note his powerful preaching and his ecumenical spirit. They also often give an evangelistic call and often contemplate life without Whitefield.
Dr Atherstone gave copious examples without being at all tedious and the printed paper will be worth seeing.
Here by way of example
1. Lament
"He died like a hero on the field of battle. Thousands in England, Scotland, and America have great reason to bless God for his ministrations." (Edward Ellington)
"Shall I a momentary loss deplore. Lamenting after him that weeps no more? What though, forbid by the Atlantic wave, 1 cannot share my old companion's grave, Yet, at the trumpet's call, my dust shall rise. With his fly up to Jesus in the skies. And live with him the life that never dies." (Charles Wesley)
2. Preaching
"What an honour it pleased God to put upon his faithful servant, by allowing him to declare his everlasting gospel in so many various countries, to such numbers of people, and with so great an effect on so many of their precious souls! Have we read or heard of any person since the apostles, who testified the gospel of the grace of God through so widely wended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world? Have we read or heard of any person, who called so many thousands, so many myriads of sinners to repentance!" (John Wesley)
"fired with a flaming zeal for his Lord and Master; filled with bowels of tender compassion to immortal souls; and favoured with more than Ciceronian eloquence - he soon became the wonder of
the world as a preacher." (James Sproat)
3. Ecumenism
Preachers of many different denominations praised him and many picked up on this.
"Though long by following multitudes admired
No party for himself he e'er desir'd.
His one desire to make the Saviour known,
To magnify the name of Christ alone" (Charles Wesley) 
This emphasis meant that Calvinism was downplayed. The one exception here was a sermon by Richard Elliott.
4. Evangelistic call
5. A future without Whitefield
"O had he dropped his mantle in his flight!
O might his spirit on all the Prophets light!" (Charles Wesley)

No comments: