Monday, January 7, 2008

George Whitefield's Proposal to Elizabeth

My dad quoted this at the dinner table last night and I thought... Wow! How different a proposal from today! :)

The letter for Elizabeth reads as follows:

April 4, 1740

Be not surprised at the contents of this: - The letter sent to your honoured father and mother will acquaint you with the reasons.
Do you think you could undergo the fatigues, that must necessarily attend being joined to one, who is every day liable to be called out to suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ? Can you bear to leave your father and kindred's house, and to trust Him, (who feedeth the young ravens that call upon Him) for your own and children's support, supposing it should please Him to bless you with any? Can you undertake to help a husband in the charge of a family, consisting perhaps of a hundred persons? Can you bear the inclemencies of the air both as to cold and heat in a foreign climate? Can you, when you have a husband, be as though you had none, and willingly part with him, even for a long season, when his Lord and Master shall call him forth to preach the Gospel, and command him to leave you behind?
If after seeking to God for direction, and searching your heart, you can say, 'I can do all those things through Christ strengthening me,' what if you and I were joined together in the Lord, and you came with me at my return from England, to be a help meet for me in the management of the orphan-house? I have great reason to believe it is the divine will that should alter my condition, and have often thought that you was the person appointed for me. I shall still wait on God for direction, and heartily entreat Him, that if this motion be not of Him, it may come to nought.
I write thus plainly, because, I trust, I write not from any other principles but the love of God. - I shall make it my business to call on the Lord Jesus, and would advise you to consult both Him and your friends - For in order to attain a blessing we should call both the Lord Jesus and His disciples to the marriage- I much like the manner of Issac's marrying with Rebekah, and think no marriage can succeed well unless both parties concerned are like-minded with Tobias and his wife - I think I can call the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, to witness that I desire 'to take you my sister to wife, not for lust, but uprightly;' and therefore I hope He will mercifully ordain, if it be His blessed will we should be joined together, that we may walk as Zachary and Elizabeth did, in all the ordinances of the Lord blameless.
I make no great profession to you, because I believe you think me sincere. The passionate expressions which carnal courtiers use, I think, ought to be avoided by those that would marry in the Lord. I can only promise by the help of God, 'to keep my matrimonial vow, and to do what I can towards helping you forward in the great work of your salvation'. If you think marriage will be in any way prejudicial to your better part, be so kind as to send me a denial. I would not be a snare to you for the world. You need not be afraid of speaking your mind. I trust, I love you only for God, and desire to be joined with you only by His command and for His sake. With fear and much trembling I write, and shall patiently tarry the Lord's leisure, till He is pleased to incline you, dear Miss--, to send an answer to,

Your affectionate brother, friend and servant in Christ,
G. W.

She wrote a reply and so did her parents, and Whitefield waited nearly four months before these letters reached him. Of their contents we know nothing, except what may be gleaned from Whitefield's few remarks about them. In writing to William Seward he said:

I find from Blendon letters that Miss E-- D-- is in a seeking state only. Surely that will not do. I would have one that is full of faith and the Holy Ghost. Just now I have been weeping and much carried out in prayer before the Lord. My poor family gives me more concern than everything else put together. I want a gracious woman that is dead to everything but Jesus... I wait upon the Lord every moment... and He assures me He will not permit me to fall by the hands of a woman... looking back upon the workings of my heart in this affair, I am more and more convinced it is of God, and therefore know that He will order things for me as will best promote His own glory. So that my dear Lord's honour does not suffer, I care not what trouble in the flesh I under go.

Despite these statements, the letter that Whitfield received may not have contained an outright rejection.

-George Whitefield, Arnold Dallimore, p.p 471-474

No comments: