«by LIAM IWIG-O’BYRNE Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Arlington in Partial Fulfillment of the ...»
HOW METHODISTS WERE MADE: THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE AND
SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION IN THE
TRANSATLANTIC WORLD, 1778-1803
Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of
The University of Texas at Arlington in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements
for the Degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTONMay 2008 Copyright © by Liam Iwig-O’Byrne 2008 All Rights Reserved
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank my committee for their work on my behalf, especially those serving who were not as familiar with the overall subject of Methodism, particularly Dr. Stanley Palmer for agreeing to chair my committee. I especially want to thank Dr. William Abraham, the Albert Outler Chair of Wesleyan Studies at Perkins Theological Seminary in Dallas for adding his expertise so important for this work.
My research was dependent upon the resources of Bridwell Library at Perkins Theological Seminary. I want to thank the staff members, who were always extremely helpful, often going to great lengths. When I could not locate microfilm for the Arminian Magazine, they searched until they found it not yet properly cataloged and shelved. They prepared several rolls for me in short order.
My special (and sadly, posthumous) thanks go to my good friend Debbie Ragland, who spent hours helping me copy and catalog materials and by babysitting so I could have additional hours to work. I want to thank my parishioners, who endured minimal pastoral care during this task, yet continue to be supportive.
Most of all I want to thank my wife, whose seemingly unending supply of patience and support surely must be nearly drained after nine years! She has endured vast expense, constant mess, additional responsibilities and my constant preoccupation.
Finally, I want to thank my son Cian for his patience and support as well.
May 2, 2008 iii
HOW METHODISTS WERE MADE: THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE AND
SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION IN THETRANSATLANTIC WORLD, 1778-1803 Liam Iwig-O’Byrne, PhD.
The University of Texas at Arlington, 2008 Supervising Professor: Stanley Palmer This dissertation examines the spiritual autobiographies and biographies in The Arminian Magazine (later The Methodist Magazine) first published by John Wesley in
1778. The study will cover such narratives through the year 1803, thus covering the transatlantic movement of early Methodism from the American Revolution up to the Napoleonic Wars. A brief background in the field of transatlantic history is provided, followed by descriptions of anthropologist Victor Turner’s theory of ritual transformation and cognitive structuralist James Day’s understanding of narrative strategies as frameworks for examining these narratives. Methodism’s theoretical construct behind the transformations sought by Methodists, namely John Wesley’s
awakening and conviction as first, preliminal to the transformation of pardon and new birth, and secondly, preliminal to entire sanctification; both received through the limen of faith. Puritans in the seventeenth century offered similar narratives with which early Methodist had some familiarity, and these are examined briefly first. The role of reading and writing within Methodism is then discussed, as well as common initial reactions to Methodism in the narratives and the extensive use of the motif of supernatural communications in dreams, visions and scripture verses being strongly impressed on the mind of a subject. Each basic element of the early Methodist transformation process is discussed at length, using many examples. The final part of the research is that relating to Methodist expansion. First attention is given to the Yorkshire revivals that led to some controversy regarding various aspects of transformation. These issues are revisited in the extensive reports on revivals in the United States, revivals that would later be called the Second Great Awakening. These reports included many from Presbyterian ministers so prominent early on in the revivals as well as many accounts of Methodist revivals in the United States. Special attention is given to the issue of race, particularly the attitudes reflected toward slavery and toward Africans and African Americans in general. This is especially true in the examination of the narratives from the West Indies. The study concludes with relevant conclusions and areas for further study.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LIST OF TABLES
1.3 The Wesleyan Synthesis
1.4 Scope of the Study
2. THE WRITTEN NARRATIVE
3.2.1 Faith: Entering the Liminal
3.2.2 New Birth: The Moment of Liminality
3.2.3 The Witness: Confirmation of the New Status
3.2.4. Watchfulness: Establishment in the New Status
3.3 The Second Transformation: Perfected
3.3.1 Discovery of the Limits of the New Status
3.3.2 Faith: Entering the Second Limen
3.3.3 In a Moment: The Second Liminality
3.3.4 The Witness: Confirming the Second New Status................. 169 3.3.5 Watchfulness: Establishing the Second New Status............... 177
4. METHODIST EXPANSION: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
4.1 New Revivals in British Methodism
4.2 Race and North American, Caribbean and African Methodist Narratives
4.2.1 North American Revivals
4.2.2 Race and North American Methodists
4.2.3 Methodism in the Caribbean and in Africa
A. PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE,1778-1803, BY DATE
C. PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE,1778-1803, BY SUBJECT
2.1 Wesleyan Stages of Transformation
4.1 Location of Methodist West Indies Missions, 1780-1800
2.1 Literacy by Sex in England
4.1 Methodist Membership Overview, 1792
4.2 Methodist Membership in the Americas, 1792
4.3 Colonel Paterson’s Report on Kentucky Camp Meetings
4.3 Methodist West Indies Missions, 1778-1803
While early Methodism has been studied from many angles, it would be difficult to avoid studying the movement without reference to the transatlantic context in which it thrived. Bernard Bailyn has written a historical overview of the development of transatlantic history as a distinct field of history. In Bailyn’s view, transatlantic history was not an outgrowth of imperial history or of the history of discovery, both of which had become well-established by World War II, offering little room for further development. Instead, Bailyn traces the rise of transatlantic history to a 1917 editorial in The New Republic by Walter Lippmann, who believed that the United States was driven to intervene in World War I to preserve the “profound web of interest which joins together the western world.” The second world war inspired further development of what had appeared to be the moribund ideas of Lippmann’s editorial.
Forrest Davis published The Atlantic System in 1941, a detailed study of the “Atlantic Charter.” Lippmann followed by publishing U.S. War Aims in 1944, suggesting that soon the world would be structured according to “great regional constellations of states which are... of the historic civilized communities,” primary the Atlantic community.1 1 Bernard Bailyn, Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 5-8.
Bailyn outlines how political events continued to give impetus to the development of the field of transatlantic history. The Marshall Plan, Truman Doctrine and NATO all made the reality of transatlantic interconnection apparent. The nature of these connections, however, was not so obvious. In 1955 Jacques Godechot and Robert Palmer presented a paper suggesting that while Atlantic culture was neither static nor monolithic, it was largely one culture rather than several cultures. They further suggested that Atlantic culture of the Americas and Europe was closely united during the eighteenth-century revolutions, but had been drifting apart since. Many historians immediately expressed strong disagreement at the time, some suggesting the paper was merely a Western apologetic. Nonetheless, Bailyn catalogs many examples of creative areas of study for individual aspects of Atlantic culture that arose from the investigation of new sources and the asking of new questions. In Bailyn’s opinion transatlantic historians should not limit themselves by seeing transatlantic history as simply a sum of the history of several European empires and certain West African and American Indian cultures. Transatlantic history is more than the sum of these parts. Secondly, transatlantic historians should resist the temptation to think that “formal, legal structures reflect reality,” structures such as specific mercantilist economies, government institutions or organized religions. Rather, it is “beneath the formal structure” where one may find “the informal actuality, which has patterns of its own.” There are no characteristics that are present throughout the Atlantic world for all three centuries of the early modern era.2 2 Ibid., 9, 24-56, 60-1.
Bailyn further suggests that the first stage of Atlantic history was the unfolding of new “marchlands” of European civilization. Following the turmoil in establishing these marchlands was a long period of development and integration, involving vast informal networks in a wide variety of areas. Bailyn discusses the role of religion in forming and maintaining these networks. While he dwells on Puritanism, Anglicanism and German Pietism, Bailyn does not mention Methodism specifically. The final phase of Atlantic history was that of the rise of various Creole cultures and their ideas of reform, equality and freedom.3 Methodism plugged into various existing networks stretching across the Atlantic, including the network of evangelical revivalism, to form its own growing transatlantic network. The story of early Methodism is not essentially about their numbers, structures and statements of belief. Rather, this study will investigate the underlying reality of Methodism, its process of personal transformation. The time period of the study (1778-1803) reflects a fairly early example of Bailyn’s third stage of transatlantic history, occurring during the vast transatlantic war that included the American Revolution and the equally vast set of transatlantic wars of the French Revolution. While Methodism was clearly an extension of Anglo culture (part of a European “marchland”), it would be particularly successful as “Creole” Methodism in North America and the West Indies. Methodism’s process of transformation, and the eclectic doctrinal system underlying it, fit well, up to a point, with the revolutionary values of various newly independent nations, such as democracy, freedom and equality.
3 Ibid., 62-111.
informal networks, have often dwelt on contact between cultures, races, classes and genders. Naturally, such studies have often reflected quite badly on Europeans, prone as they have been to imperialism, colonialism and slavery. European religious movements have not fared well in many of these studies. An example of this is Frederick Turner’s Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness.
Turner divides religions between those with a timeline (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and those with a cyclical approach to time, including not only Hinduism and Buddhism, but the indigenous religions of West Africa and the Americas. This, Turner believes, partially explains how Europeans became so aggressive, patriarchal and exploitative.
While most historians do not paint as one-sided and negative a picture of European spirituality as Turner does, yet the facts themselves have contributed to a very negative view of transatlantic Christianity. There can be no denying, for example, the role of both the Catholicism and Anglicanism not only in condoning slavery, but, in the case of Anglicanism, actively defending it in order to gain access to preach to the slaves.
Bailyn himself details how Anglican Virginians and Puritan New Englanders were just as brutal to the Indians as the Catholic conquistadors were.4 It is not my intent to defend transatlantic Christianity in general or transatlantic Methodism in particular. However, transatlantic history has done what other disciplines have so often done when examining religion, proceeding from a set of assumptions that almost inevitably leads authors to negatively assess the beliefs and practices of any 4
Frederick Turner, Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness (New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers University Press, 1994) and Bailyn 64-5.
study will employ models more useful in taking seriously the statements of believers without sharing their beliefs. Early Methodism is a particularly useful subject of such a study because its initial substantial transatlantic growth happened at such a critical time in the transatlantic world, the last quarter of the eighteenth century. During this time period the United States completed its revolution, adopted a constitution and began the Jeffersonian Era just as the Second Great Awakening was getting under way. The West Indies was being bitterly contested by European powers and, in 1795, witnessed several Creole or Indian revolutions. I will use anthropologist Victor Turner’s theory of ritual transformation and cognitive structuralism James Day’s approach to narrative strategies as frames of reference to study early Methodist narratives in an effort to avoid functionalism and reductionism.