For more than two centuries, George Whitefield has been considered the most brilliant and popular preacher the modern world has ever known. He began preaching at an early age of twenty-two and his voice startled England like a trumpet blast. He boldly preached the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and was attacked by clergy, the press, and even mobs. Most of His preaching was in the open air to crowds of twenty to thirty thousand people. Yet for all his popularity and impact he remained a man of humility and deep spirituality. He died at the age of 55 and had preached an estimated 30,000 sermons. His penetrating comments are as wise and relevant today, as they were when he first preached them. His sermons have been consistently recognized, and their usefulness and impact have continued to the present day, even in the outdated English of the author’s own day.
Why then should expositions already so successful and of such stature and proven usefulness require adaptation, revision, rewrite or even editing? The answer is obvious. To increase its usefulness to today’s audience the language in which it was originally written needs updating.
Though his sermons have served other generations well, just as they were preached in the eighteenth century, they still could be lost to present and future generations simply because, to them, the language is neither readily nor fully understandable.
My goal, however, has not been to reduce the original writing to the vernacular of our day. It is designed primarily for you who desire to read and study comfortably and at ease in the language of our time. Only obviously archaic terminology and passages obscured by expressions not totally familiar in our day have been revised. However, neither Whitefield’s meaning nor intent have been tampered with. – Tony Capoccia
SATAN’S SCHEMES BY GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770)
“In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]
These words were spoken by the Apostle Paul to the church of Corinth. In that church there was an unhappy person, one who had committed the sin of incest, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: The man had taken his father’s wife; but either on account of his wealth, power, or for some other reason, like many notorious offenders today, he had not been exposed to the discipline of the church. The Apostle Paul, therefore, in his first epistle, severely reprimands the church for this neglect of discipline, and commands them, “When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord,” that is, they should solemnly excommunicate him; which back then was commonly followed with some bodily disease.
The Corinthians, being obedient to the Apostle, as soon as they received this reproof, like dear children, submitted to it, and cast the offending party out of the church. But while they were endeavoring to amend one fault, they unhappily ran into another; and as they formerly had been too mild and negligent, so now they behaved towards him with too much severity and resentment. The Apostle, therefore, in this chapter, reproves this, and tells them, that “The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him:” that he had now suffered enough; and that, therefore, lest he should be tempted to say with Cain, “My punishment is more than I can bear;” therefore, “Forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”
Now that he had given proof of his repentance, you now needed to forgive him, to confirm your love towards him, and to restore him in the spirit of meekness; “In order that Satan, (who is trying to tempt him to despair) might not outwit you.” Satan wants the church to be unforgiving and to be the vehicle that drives the repentant sinner to despair, thereby representing you, the church, as being merciless and cruel, and to cause the Holy Name of Christ to be blasphemed, by which you are called; “for we are not unaware of his schemes:” we know very well how many subtle ways Satan has to distract and deceive unguarded and unthinking men.
Thus, as Satan has many schemes, and as his quiver is full of other poisonous darts, besides those which he shoots at us to drive us to despair, I shall, this morning, discuss the following,
I. First, I will briefly attempt to help you understand who Satan is.
II. Secondly, I will point out to you the principal schemes, he generally uses, to lead astray new converts to Christ, and also prescribe some remedies against them.