He moved the masses as no-one before him and hardly anyone since. His life is filled with instruction for Christians today." He spoke to some ten million people, and it is said his voice could be heard a mile away. It is estimated that throughout his life, he preached more than 18,000 formal sermons and if less formal occasions are included, that number might rise to more than 30,000. In addition to his ministry in Great Britain (for 24 years) and America (for 9 years), he made 15 journeys to Scotland, 2 to Ireland, and one each to Bermuda, Gibraltar, and The Netherlands (Armstrong 9, 22).
He may have been the best-known Protestant in the whole world during the eighteenth century. Certainly he was the single best-known religious leader in America of that century, and the most widely recognized figure of any sort in North America before George Washington (Noll 91).
Early years in England. George Whitefield was born in the Bell Inn where his father, Thomas, was a wine merchant and innkeeper. It was the largest and finest establishment in town, and its main hall had two auditoriums, one of which was used to stage plays. But when he was only two tragedy struck this young prosperous family, George's father died (Dallimore I 17-19; Armstrong 12).
When the lad was 8 years of age his mother remarried, but the union was tragic, and the inn was almost lost due to ...