George Whitefield on the Doctrine of Election

In the volume 1 of Arnold Dallimore’s 2 volume biography of George Whitefield, Dallimore writes of Whitefield’s belief in the doctrines of God’s grace in election. Below are a few of the striking quotes, that I came across in my reading today:

The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great conficence in God my Saviour (Works, p. 79).

I hope we shall catch fire from each other, and that there will be a holy emulation amongst us, who shall most debase man and exalt the Lord Jesus. Nothing but the doctines of the Reformation can do this. All others leave freewill in man and make him, in part at least, a Saviour to himself. My soul, come not thou near the secret of those who teach such things . . . I know Christ is all in all. Man is nothing: he hath a free will to go to hell, but none to go to heaven, till God worketh in him to do of His good pleasure (Works, pp. 89-90).

Oh, the excellency of the doctrine of election and of the saint’s final perseverance! I am persuaded, till a man comes to believe and feel these important truths, he cannot come to himself, but when convinced of these, and assured of their application to his own heart, he then walks by faith indeed! . . . Love, not fear, constrains him to obedience (Works, p. 101).

After giving the above quotes on p. 407 of the first volume of his biography of Whitefield, Dallimore comments that for Whitefield these doctrines of grace “were not separate tenets, to be accepted or rejected one by one, but a series of truths so joined together as to compose a great system of theology” and that “Whitefield looked upon these doctrines as the foundation of a most fervent, soul-winning ministry.”


  1. Thanks Steve. I pray to be much more of an evangelist. I am reading a very good biography on Edwards called “Jonathan Edwards : A Life by George M. Marsden” It is very good biography. It goes into some details between Whitefield and Edwards. He was very impressed with Edwards, however I wouldn’t consider them close friends, but they learned a bit from each other

  2. Pastor Steve,
    Much to chew on here. Some of these great men of God saw the importance of holding to the “Doctrines of Grace” and not compromising their stand.

    The question is, should we hold to these great truths on a personal level and not be as forthright as these men were in order to maintain unity in the body, or should we be bold in our convictions and let the chips fall where they may. I wrestle with this myself.


  3. Mark,

    For what it’s worth, I believe the above quotes were from personal correspondence with friends. He was proclaiming these truths at a pastor’s fellowship of various denominations (not that he wouldn’t, I just don’t know).

    I believe we must stand firmly on what we believe the Bible to teach on these areas. However, we must realize that Christians have disagreed on this same areas throughout history. This should cause us to pause to realize that one musn’t be a Calvinist to be a Christian. Therefore, we should show Christian charity to those who differ with us on these matters, as long as the necessity of faith and repentance are stressed along with the exclusivity of Christ as the way of salvation.

    I think we can both be firm in our convictions and be tolerant of those who differ with us. If we all believed the same thing, what need would there be for tolerance?

    P.S. I mean tolerance in the old use of the word as the agreement to disagree, not the belief that all beliefs are equally true!

  4. We must be patient for if God does not bring our brothers and sisters to this realization then it will only be of our intellectual persuasion. If you look back…Did you believe in election or did God have to flip you upside down and thoroughly convince you without any doubt.

    I know he did me. We must pray and be patient. Somehow contend with a degree of boldness, but not endlessly argue.

    Having said that…I am still learning on this, so this is advice given to myself.


    I appreciate this good sound table of exposition that you provide for us. You have good balance here and are gifted of the Lord with a good measure of Love…as well as humour to break the ice.

    We can all learn from you.

    But dont get a big head or else you will no longer be a level head.

    Perhaps it is good that you have Doxo in order to keep you in your place or you to he.

    WE must encourage one another as well as goad one another as we know the weakness of our flesh.

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