How Methodists Were Made: The Arminian Magazine And Spiritual Transformation In The Transatlantic World, 1778-1803
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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 covers 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 theology and his regimen of transformation, is presented next. This regimen began with 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 relates 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.