Thursday, October 29, 2015

In a Class All Their Own.......

The Printer and the Preacher. That would be Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield, of course, Written by Randy Petersen and published by Thomas Nelson Books, it's good to be reminded that these two busy men shared a surprising but close friendship for over 30 years. And Randy thinks they "invented America." I don't know if I can go that far, but they certainly jumped in and had important parts in all that was going on. Franklin sparked so many important "social structures" in Philadelphia: the library, a fire brigade, a hospital, the militia, the college, and more. And Whitfield saw hundreds, maybe thousands of people listen to his preaching and come to believe in Jesus.

Ben Franklin grew up in Boston but moved to Philadelphia with his printing business. George Whitfield was from England, but he was so enthusiastic about America that he crossed the ocean 13 times. A well-known preacher in both nations, Whitfield traveled up and down our east coast, preaching indoors or outside, wherever he was invited.

When Franklin and Whitfield first met, it was over a business project and eventually Ben became the "primary printer" for Whitfield's sermons, articles, and books. Ben was already known and appreciated for his popular Poor Richard's Almanac as well as his newspaper called the Philadelphia Gazette. These two busy men kept in touch with each other, as Randy writes: "meeting on both sides of the Atlantic." Whitfield often encouraged Ben Franklin to "believe in Jesus," but Franklin was not interested. He said he believed in God, that was enough. But they did support each other often. As George traveled, Ben provided coverage in the Gazette for the news of what was happening where George was preaching. They were both finding success with what they wanted to do.

During some of his visits through New England, George was invited to Northampton, a guest of the pastor-scholar Jonathan Edwards. In the 1660s and 70s there were "glimmers of revival in the American colonies." In the 1740s the so-called "Great Awakening" spread throughout New England. Cotton Mather was one of the early preachers, followed by George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards. and John and Charles Wesley. All of them had a place in those important years. I found it a pleasure to read and find out more detail about their lives and circumstances. Maybe you would like it, too.

Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks