In 1739, George Whitefield sailed for the American Colonies. He was headed back to the colony of Georgia, having just concluded a great ministry in London, Gloucester, Bristol and points in-between. He had returned to England to raise funds for an orphan home he planned to establish in Georgia. While raising these funds, finding the pulpits of many Church of England congregations closed to him, Whitefield began to preach in the open air.
He didn’t invent the practice, but he certainly implemented it with unparalleled effect. Whitefield regularly drew crowds in the thousands in the fields. As he made ready to return to Georgia, Whitefield handed the reigns of this ministry over to John Wesley, who had recently returned to England in disgrace from a failed missionary post in Georgia. With this new task, Wesley finally came into his own. However, his doctrinal differences with Whitefield accelerated greatly as he took leadership of this ministry and Whitefield sailed over the horizon for the new world.
In 1739, after casting a lot to determine whether he should preach and publish his views on predestination, Wesley received a favorable result and thus preached a message entitled Free Grace. In it, he attacked the doctrines of grace with passion.1 His sermon is below: