Research material

Rapture and reason: Accounts of evangelical conversion in Georgian Britain

The University of Manchester Library has digitised a collection of 153 manuscript conversion narratives written during the 18th century Evangelical Revival. These testimonies provide a vivid insight into a dynamic and sometimes disturbing spirituality that fuelled an explosion in popular religion and created one of the building blocks of the modern world. This previously unpublished collection, part of the official archive of the Methodist Church of Great Britain, is now made available to scholars as well as members of faith communities interested in the roots of some of the world's leading denominations.

Approximately one third of the collection has been transcribed and these copies can be accessed on the library website with the digital images of the original documents.

The testimonies document the grassroot response to revival meetings held across the British Isles during the middle decades of the 18th century. The preaching of charismatic evengelists of the calibre of George Whitfield and the Wesley brothers had a shocking impact on audiences and wider public opinion. The testimonies report cases of physical and emotional collapse with long-term effects on the mental and emotional state of converts.

From humble and controversial beginnings, the Revival came to exert huge influences across the English-speaking world. Progressive causes in the 19th century were often championed and led by evangelical Christians including the movements for the abolition of slavery, working class education, factory reform and temperance.

This collection provides a unique insight into the birth of modern evengelical Christianity and assciated charasmatic movements.

To access the collection click HERE.

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