Lady Huntingdon used to say she was “saved by an M,” pointing out that I Corinthians 1:26 did not say “not any noble,” but rather that “not many noble” after the flesh are called. She rejoiced to be counted among those called.
Lady Selina Shirley Huntingdon lived in England in the time of John Wesley and George Whitfield in the 1700s. Though a member of the Church of England as the Wesleys were, she came to trust completely in Christ alone for salvation around age 32 through the influence of a sister-in-law. Her husband died a few years after her conversion, and she lived her remaining years helping to establish 64 “meeting-houses,” supporting George Whitefield and other clergy, opening chapels attached to her residences, opening a college to train men for the ministry, and supporting the Bethesda orphanage in Savannah which George Whitfield willed to her. It was her desire that the orphanage become a launching ground for missionary work in Georgia.
Lady Huntingdon also tried to reach her own friends for the Lord, who did not always appreciate her efforts. The Duchess of Buckingham wrote, “I thank your Ladyship for information on the Methodist preaching. Their doctrines are strongly tinctured with impertinence toward their superiors… It is monstrous to be told you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches who crawl the earth.” The Duchess of Marlborough replied: “Your concern for my improvement and religious knowledge is very obliging and I hope I shall be the better for your excellent advice…women of wit, beauty and quality cannot bear too many home truths… I am forced to the society of those I detest and abhor. There is Lady Sanderson’s great rout tomorrow night-I do hate the woman as much as I hate a physician, but I must go if only to mortify and spite her…I confess my little peccadilloes to you; your goodness will lead you to…forgiving. “
A Sunday School teacher once commented that God needs and uses people at all economic levels, all classes, all types, to reach those within their influence. Lady Huntingdon certainly used her influence for the Lord and followed after Joanna, Susanna, and others in the Bible who “ministered unto Him of their substance.” (Luke 8:2-3) A good book about her life and ministry is Lady Huntingdon and Her Friends by Helen Knight.
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)