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We must add, above all, a contagious fervour of enthusiasm, which, like a resistless torrent, bore down every obstacle. His voice was sometimes choked with tears; he stamped vehemently on the pulpit floor; every nerve was strained; his whole frame was convulsed with passion. It was their main object, by gesture, by look, by the constant use of the singular pronoun, to preach so that each member of the congregation might imagine the whole force of the denunciations or of the pleadings of the preacher was directed individually to himself.

In this art Whitefield especially excelled, and he sometimes carried it to strange lengths, and employed it with strange effects. He delighted in strokes of dramatic oratory, which with an ordinary man would have appeared simply ludicrous or intolerably tawdry, but to which his transcendent power of acting never failed to impart an extraordinary power.

And shall he ascend and not bear with him the news of one sinner among all this multitude reclaimed from the error of his way? Sometimes he would visit a Court of Justice, and afterwards reproduce the condemnation scene in the pulpit. With his eyes full of tears, and his voice trembling with pity, he would begin, after a momentary pause: Sinner, I must do it.

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I must pronounce sentence upon you. Hume describes almost the whole assembly as weeping, and though himself one of the most delicate of critics and one of the coldest and most sceptical of men, he pronounced Whitefield the most ingenious preacher he had ever heard, and declared that it was worth going twenty miles to hear him. The account which Franklin has given of the effects of the eloquence of Whitefield, though well known, is too characteristic to be omitted. Franklin, strongly disapproving Edition: I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold.

As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all.

At this sermon there was also one of our club, who being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had by precaution emptied his pockets before he came from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong inclination to give, and applied to a neighbour who stood near him to lend him some money for the purpose. The request was made to perhaps the only man in the company who had the firmness not to be affected by the preacher.

The effect of this style of preaching was greatly enhanced by an extreme variety of gesture, intonation, and manner. Considering the very small number of his ideas, it is a remarkable proof of the oratorical talents of Whitefield that his sermons were never charged with monotony. He frequently interspersed the more serious passages with anecdotes or illustrations.

Often, when the audience had been strung to the highest pitch of excitement, he would suddenly make a long, solemn and dramatic pause. He painted scenes as if they were visibly present to his eye, with all the fire and the animation of the most perfect actor. But what means this sudden lowering of the heavens, and that dark cloud arising from beneath the western horizon? Don't you see those flashes of lightning? There is a storm gathering! Every man to his duty! How the waves arise and dash against the ship!

The air is dark! Our masts are gone! The ship is on her beam-ends! A very great part of his influence depended no doubt upon the matter of his discourses. He avoided all abstract reflections, all trains of reasoning, everything that could fatigue the attention, or rouse the intellect to question or oppose. His preaching was based upon the most confident assertions, and it dealt almost exclusively with topics which, if firmly believed. The utter depravity of human nature—the eternal tortures which are the doom of every unconverted man—the free salvation by Christ—the imminence of death—the necessity to salvation of a complete, supernatural change of character and emotions, were the subjects upon which he continually dilated.

It is easy to understand that such topics, urged by a great orator, at a time when some of them were by no means familiar, should have exercised a far deeper influence than any dissertation upon the duties of man or the authority of revelation. Besides this, Whitefield was perpetually changing his audience. His style was never suffered to pall upon his hearers. The same sermon was again and again repeated, and at every repetition passages which appeared ineffective were retrenched, and a greater perfection of emphasis and intonation was acquired.

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Garrick and Foote declared that he never reached his highest perfection till the fortieth repetition. The picturesque scenes and the striking contrasts which out-of-door preaching furnished added to the effect, and the great multitude who were attracted by his eloquence gave in turn to that eloquence an additional power. A contagion of excitement was aroused, and an irresistible wave of sympathetic feeling rolled through the mighty host. I have dwelt at some length upon the preaching of Whitefield, for it was of vital importance to the religious revival of the eighteenth century.

But for the simultaneous appearance of a great orator and a great statesman, Methodism would probably have smouldered and at last perished like the very similar religious societies of the preceding century. Whitefield was utterly destitute of the organising skill which could alone give a permanence to the movement, and no talent is naturally more ephemeral than popular oratory; while Edition: The institution of field-preaching by Whitefield in the February of carried the impulse through the great masses of the poor, while the foundation by Wesley, in the May of the same year, of the first Methodist chapel was the beginning of an organised body capable of securing and perpetuating the results that had been achieved.

Dissensions, however, deep and lasting, speedily arose. In Methodism was merely an offshoot of Moravianism, but several causes combined to detach it from its parent stem. Wesley revolted against the more than episcopal authority which Count Zinzendorf exercised over the Brethren, and the Moravian teachers refused to acknowledge the supernatural character of the hysterical convulsions that now continually accompanied the preaching of Wesley. An Alsatian enthusiast, named Molther, whose mind was very uncongenial to that of Wesley, obtained great popularity among the Moravians, and led the sect into the wildest extravagances of mysticism and Antinomianism.

But there are only two such ministers in London, Bell and Molther. He preached openly against it, and taught that there were degrees of justifying faith. He protested against a kind of amorous, mystical, and sensuous language, Edition: Above all, he protested strongly against the Antinomianism which was rapidly springing out of their doctrine that we are justified by faith alone, and that conversion is accomplished by an instantaneous supernatural process in which we have no part.

For believers it was said the ordinances of religion were not a matter of duty, necessity, or injunction, but only of choice, while for those who were not believers in the Moravian sense of the word, it was criminal to partake in them. These extravagances do not appear to have formed part of the original teaching of the Moravians, and a few years later they were greatly qualified, but in they were at their height, and they precipitated the inevitable division. Wesley preached strongly against them. He was excluded from the Moravian pulpit in Fetter Lane.

He then, accompanied by eighteen or nineteen followers, seceded from the society which he had himself founded, and which had been the centre of the movement, and formed, at a place called the Foundery, a new society, in July A fortnight later he addressed a long letter to the Moravian leaders in Germany enumerating and protesting against the Edition: From this time the breach between Methodism and Moravianism was complete.

Shortly before this schism a Calvinist had, it is said, been excluded by order of Charles Wesley from the society meeting on account of his assertion of the doctrines of election and reprobation, and the differences between Wesley and Whitefield on this ground were rapidly deepening. The Calvinism of Whitefield was much strengthened by connections he formed in America, and he at the same time grew more and more hostile to the doctrine of perfection, to which Wesley appeared more and more attached.

Both Wesley and Whitefield appear to have sincerely desired to avoid a rupture, but each had many friends who urged them on, and neither of them was very capable of reticence or forbearance. Wesley, galled by an anonymous letter accusing him of withholding a portion of the Gospel in his sermons, submitted the question whether he should preach and print on election, to the decision of a lot, and the answer being in the affirmative he delivered and subsequently published that sermon on free grace which is probably the most powerful production of his pen.

Whitefield, though he had at one time promised not to preach on the contested point, thought that this resolution was a sinful one. He told Wesley that the Gospels they believed in were different ones, and he both wrote and preached in favour of his views. A subordinate, but zealous and devoted preacher named Cennick took a still more decided course, and Wesley, having discovered that he was introducing disputes into the society and continually accusing the Wesleys of mutilating the Gospel, expelled him from the society.

About fifty seceded with him. The Calvinistic Methodists were subsequently organised chiefly under the influence of the Countess of Huntingdon, but after the Edition: While Whitefield lived the rupture was never complete, and it was not until that a controversy broke out between the two sections, which was so virulent that it rendered reunion impossible. Whitefield to the last spoke of Wesley with a touching affection. These internal dissensions, however, had but little effect upon the immediate prospects of the movement.

Its success depended upon the zeal and abilities of its leaders, upon the evangelical doctrines which they had revived and which were peculiarly fitted to exercise a deep influence upon the people, and upon the institution of field-preaching, which brought those doctrines before vast multitudes who had scarcely before come into any contact with religion.

The great difficulty was the small number of the teachers and the general hostility of the clergy, but this was remedied in the beginning of by the institution of lay preachers. Nelson and Maxfield were the two earliest. They had begun preaching in the preceding year without authorisation and apparently without concert, under the impulse of an overpowering missionary enthusiasm; and it was only very reluctantly, and chiefly in obedience to the Edition: From the time of the institution of lay preachers Methodism became in a great degree independent of the Established Church. Its chapels multiplied in the great towns, and its itinerant missionaries penetrated to the most secluded districts.

They were accustomed to preach in fields and gardens, in streets and lecture-rooms, in market-places and churchyards. On one occasion we find Whitefield at a fair mounting a stage which had been erected for some wrestlers, and there denouncing the pleasures of the world; on another, preaching among the mountebanks at Moorfields; on a third, attracting around his pulpit 10, of the spectators at a racecourse; on a fourth, standing beside the gallows at an execution to speak of death and of eternity.

Wesley, when excluded from the pulpit of Epworth, delivered some of his most impressive sermons in the churchyard, standing on his father's tomb. In one of their preachers named Seward, after repeated ill-treatment in Wales, was at last struck on the head while preaching at Monmouth, and died of the blow. In a riot, while Wheatley was preaching at Norwich, a poor woman with child perished from the Edition: At Wednesbury—a little town in Staffordshire—then very famous for its cock-fights—numerous houses were wrecked; the Methodists were stoned, beaten with cudgels, or dragged through the public kennels.

Women were atrociously abused. The leaders of the mob declared their intention to destroy every Methodist in the county. Wesley himself appeared in the town, and the rioters speedily surrounded the house where he was staying. With the placid courage that never deserted him in danger, he descended alone and unarmed into their midst. His perfect calmness and his singularly venerable appearance quelled the most noisy, and he succeeded by a few well-chosen words in producing a sudden reaction.

His captors, however, insisted on his accompanying them to a neighbouring justice, who exhorted them to disperse in peace. The night had now fallen, and Wesley was actually returning to Wednesbury protected by a portion of the very crowd which had attacked him, when a new mob poured in from an adjoining village. He was seized by the hair and dragged through the streets. Some struck at him with cudgels. Many cried to knock out his brains and kill him at once. A river was flowing near, and he imagined they would throw him into the water.

Yet in that dreadful moment his self-possession never failed him. He uttered in loud and solemn tones a prayer to God. He addressed those who were nearest him with all the skill that a consummate knowledge of the popular character could supply, and he speedily won over to his side some of the most powerful of the leaders.

Gradually the throng paused, wavered, divided; and Wesley returned almost uninjured to his house. To a similar courage he owed his life at Bolton, when the house where he was preaching was attacked, and at last burst open, by a furious crowd thirsting for his life. Again and again he preached, Edition: The fortunes of his brother were little different. At Cardiff, when he was preaching, women were kicked and their clothes set on fire by fireworks.

Ives and in the neighbouring villages the congregation were attacked with cudgels, and everything in the room where they were assembled was shattered to atoms. At Devizes a water-engine played upon the house where he was staying. His horses were seized. The house of one of his supporters was ransacked, and bull-dogs were let loose upon him.

At Dublin Whitefield was almost stoned to death. At Exeter he was stoned in the very presence of the bishop. At Plymouth he was violently assaulted and his life seriously threatened by a naval officer. Scenes of this kind were of continual occurrence, and they were interspersed with other persecutions of a less dangerous description. Drums were beaten, horns blown, guns let off, and blacksmiths hired to ply their noisy trade in order to drown the voices of the preachers.

Once, at the very moment when Whitefield announced his text, the belfry gave out a peal loud enough to make him inaudible. On other occasions packs of hounds were brought with the same object, and once, in order to excite the dogs to fury, a live cat in a cage was placed in their midst. Fire-engines poured streams of fetid water upon the congregation. Stones fell so thickly that the faces of many grew crimson with blood.

At Hoxton the mob drove an ox into the midst of the congregation. At Pensford the rabble, who had been baiting a bull, concluded their sport by driving the torn and tired animal full against the table on which Wesley was preaching. Sometimes we find innkeepers refusing to receive the Methodist leaders in their inns, farmers entering into an agreement to dismiss every labourer who attended a Methodist preacher, landlords expelling Edition: The magistrates, who knew by experience that the presence of a Methodist preacher was the usual precursor of disturbance or riot, looked on them with the greatest disfavour, and often scandalously connived at the persecutions they underwent.

These facts represent a serious and formidable persecution, directed against men who, whatever may have been their faults, were at least actuated by motives of the purest philanthropy. It is not, however, difficult to discover the causes of the antipathy they aroused. Bitter, but not unprovoked, denunciations from the pulpit were the origin of the riots at Wednesbury and of nearly all the savage outbursts in Cornwall; and not a few of those Edition: The example of the bishops encouraged the assaults. Gibson, indeed, wrote against the Methodists like a Christian and a gentleman, but Warburton and Lavington assailed them with the coarsest and most scurrilous invective.

The fierce fervour of Methodist devotion was as uncongenial to the spirit then prevailing in Dissent as it was to the spirit of the Established Church; and the Dissenters were at this time negotiating with a view to obtain full political privileges, and were therefore peculiarly indisposed to ally themselves with so unpopular a body as the Methodists.

Watts, it is true, showed some courtesy to Whitefield, and Doddridge once admitted him to his pulpit, and preached himself once in Whitefield's tabernacle, but his conduct was severely and authoritatively censured by the leaders of his sect. Another and very common charge was that of Popery. This accusation probably arose from the fact that Catholicism was of all forms of religion the most hated, and, at a time when Jacobitism was still formidable, Edition: His language, indeed, about Catholics often forms a striking contrast to the usual tone of his followers, 1 and it is a somewhat curious fact that one of his strongest and most persistent historical convictions was the innocence of Mary Stuart, and the eminent nobility of her character.

The accusation was frequently brought from the pulpit, and it sank deeply into the popular mind. Other charges, however, were brought against the Methodists which were far more reasonable. A more appalling system of religious terrorism, one more fitted to unhinge a tottering intellect and to darken and embitter a sensitive nature, has seldom existed. His favourite tenet was that according to the Christian creed a harmless and useful life, an orthodox belief, and a constant attendance on the ordinances of religion, were together utterly unable to save men from an eternity of torture.

With the most impassioned tone and gestures, with every artifice that could heighten the dramatic effect of his words, he expatiated upon the certainty of death, upon the terrors of judgment, upon the undying agonies of hell, upon the lost condition of mankind. These were the almost constant subjects of his preaching, and he dwelt upon them till he scared his hearers to the verge of insanity, and engendered a nervous disease, which propagated itself rapidly through the congregation. Many fell to the ground convulsed with paroxysms of agony. Some lay without sense or motion; others trembled exceedingly, or rent the air with piercing screams, which continued for hours without intermission; others imagined that they were possessed by demons, shouted, clapped their hands, or burst into wild fits of hysterical laughter.

One of the eldest, a girl of ten or twelve years old, was full in my view, in violent contortions of body, and weeping aloud, I think incessantly, during the whole service.

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The most general was a loud breathing, like that of people half-strangled and gasping for life. And, indeed, almost all the cries were like those of human creatures dying in bitter anguish. I stood on the pew seat, as did a young man in an opposite pew—an able-bodied, fresh, healthy countryman. But, in a moment, when he seemed to think of nothing less, down he dropped with a violence inconceivable.

The adjoining pews seemed shook with his fall. I heard afterwards the stamping of his feet, ready to break the boards as he lay in strong convulsions at the bottom of the pew. His face was red as scarlet: His face at first turned quite red, then almost black. He rose and ran against the wall till Mr. Keeling and another held him. What shall I do? Oh for one drop of the blood of Christ! A few of them cried out with the utmost violence and little intermission for some hours; while the rest made no great noise, but continued struggling as in the pangs of death.

I observed besides these, one little girl deeply convinced, and a boy nine or ten years old. Both these, and Edition: But in a short time their cries increased beyond measure, so that the loudest singing could scarce be heard. Some at last called on me to pray, which I did, and for a time all was calm. But the storm soon began again. Upon the whole I remark that few ancient people experience anything of this work of God, and scarce any of the rich. These generally show either an utter contempt of, or enmity to it. The agony he was in was even terrible to behold.

Some were torn with a kind of convulsive motion in every part of their bodies, and that so violently that often four or five persons could not hold one of them. Five others sank down in half an hour, most of whom were in violent agonies. One, indeed, continued an hour in strong pain, and one or two more for three days.

But the rest were greatly comforted. It was frequently observed by Wesley that his preaching rarely affected the rich and the educated. It was over the ignorant and credulous that it exercised its most appalling power, and it is difficult to overrate the mental anguish it must sometimes have produced. Timid and desponding natures unable to convince themselves that they had undergone a supernatural change, gentle and affectionate natures who believed that those who were dearest to them were descending into ever-lasting fire, must have often experienced pangs compared with which the torments of the martyr were insignificant.

The confident assertions of the Methodist preacher and the ghastly images he continually evoked poisoned their imaginations, haunted them in every hour of weakness or depression, discoloured all their judgments of the world, and added a tenfold horror to the darkness of the grave. Sufferings of this description, though among the most real and the most terrible that superstition can inflict, are so hidden in their nature that they leave few traces in history; but it is impossible to read the journals of Wesley without feeling that they were most widely diffused.

Many were thrown into paroxysms of extreme, though usually transient, agony; many doubtless nursed a secret sorrow which Edition: On one occasion Wesley was called to the bedside of a young woman at Kingswood. I found her on the bed, two or three persons holding her. It was a terrible sight. Anguish, horror, and despair above all description appeared in her pale face.

The thousand distortions of her whole body showed how the dogs of hell were gnawing at her heart. The shrieks intermixed were scarce to be endured. But her stony eyes could not weep. But it is past. I am the devil's now … I will go with him to hell. I cannot be saved.

Will you not break? What more can be done for stony hearts? I am damned that you may be saved! Come, good devil, come!

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At last the paroxysms subsided and the patients joined in a hymn of praise. A few days later a similar case occurred in Bristol. It was not easy for three or four persons to hold her, especially when the name of Jesus was named. We prayed; the violence of her symptoms ceased, though without a complete deliverance. She was filled with peace, and knew that the son of wickedness was departed from her. On another occasion, while Wesley was conducting the public devotions, a poor woman, who was known to be no dissembler, attracted the attention of all.

Sometimes she laughed till almost strangled, then broke out into cursing and blaspheming, then stamped and struggled with incredible strength, so that four or five could scarce hold her. O that I had no soul! O that I had never been born! I will never read or pray more. Upon our beginning to pray she raged above measure, but soon sank down as dead. In a few minutes she revived and joined in prayer. We left her for the present in peace.

In these instances the paroxysms proved transient, but such was not always the case. Religious madness, which, from the nature of its hallucinations, is usually the most miserable of all the forms of insanity, was in this, as in many later revivals, of no unfrequent occurrence.

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He has recorded three cases in which persons were placed under medical supervision, or in lunatic asylums, on account of phenomena which Wesley regarded as simply the consequences of conversion. He read the office with great emotion and many tears, so as to astonish the whole congregation. But going home from church he behaved in so strange a manner that it was thought necessary to confine him.

After seven or eight days he grew much worse, though still with intervals of reason; and in about a fortnight, by a judgment mixed with mercy, God took him to Himself. Then she said it was in her mouth. Quickly after she complained of her head. From that time she wept continually for four months, and afterwards grew outrageous, but always insisted that God had forsaken her, and that the devil possessed her body and soul.

I found it availed nothing to reason with her; she only blasphemed the more, cursing God and vehemently desiring, yet fearing, to die. However, she suffered me to pray, only saying it signified, not, for God had given her up. It is easy to understand the opposition which a preaching attended by such consequences must have produced. Not only the peace of parishes, but also the harmony of households, was continually destroyed.

Men were made morally, and sometimes even physically, incapable of discharging their ordinary duties, and were often thrown for long periods into a condition of religious despondency that made life almost unendurable. For forty hours he never closed his eyes, nor tasted meat or drink. He was utterly incapable of any business, so that he was obliged to shut up his shop. Thus he wandered up and down in exquisite torture for just eighteen months.

In the midst of this, without any discernible cause, such a cloud overwhelmed her that she could not believe her sins were forgiven her at all, or that there was any such thing as forgiveness of sins. In the intense religious enthusiasm that was generated, many of the ties of life were snapped in twain.

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Children treated with contempt the commands of their parents, students the rules of their colleges, clergymen the discipline of their Church. The whole structure of society, and almost all the amusements of life, appeared criminal. The fairs, the mountebanks, the public rejoicings of the people, were all Satanic. It was sinful for a woman to wear any gold ornament or any brilliant dress. Theatres and the reading of plays were absolutely condemned, and Methodists employed all their influence with the authorities to prevent the erection of the former.

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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV in Four Volumes, Volume 1 by Justin McCarthy

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