It was on this day in 1736 that George Whitefield preached his first sermon before a small Anglican congregation in England. A member of the Holy Club, to which John and Charles Wesley also belonged, he took as his topic the need for Christians to care for one another. At first his speech was awkward, for his mother, his brothers and sisters, and many who had known him as a youngster were in the audience. But as he proceeded, he later recalled, the Spirit filled him. Those who came to listen were so moved by the authority of his words that a few parishioners complained to the bishop that some of them had actually gone "mad." Whitefield himself wrote in his diary, "Glory! Glory! Glory! be ascribed to an Almighty Triune God."
Of course, he went on to become one of the greatest evangelists in the history of the church--preaching thousands more powerful sermons in England, Scotland, and throughout the widespread colonial settlements across the Atlantic. He became the driving force in the Great Awakening which brought fresh life to America's cities and churches. His last sermon was preached in 1770 while on his seventh tour of the colonies. He was desperately ill but, mounting a barrel, urged his listeners to examine themselves whether they were in the faith. To be saved, they must be born again, he urged--as he had so many times before. That night he went to sleep in America and awoke in Heaven.