Posted by Captain Everett on March 15, 1998 at 02:14:59:
In response to Hi!, written by Caroline on March 12, 1998 at 20:52:40
I'm not a Church Historian, and it's been twenty years since I studied this period at University, but here's my stab at the question:
This would also depend whethe you wanted to become a member of the "Established" Church clergy (Church of England or Anglican), or one of the Dissenting or Nonconformist sects. What Caroline said is essentially true of the former (cf "Vicars" thread below). One might be called to enter the C of E clergy, but it was not a necessity. Being a "gentleman," with a gentleman's education, was often the most important consideration of being chosen.
Dissenters tended to be of the more radical, fervant branches of religion. The Nonconformists' main interest was often to be left alone. If one chose either of these, monetary gain and an elevated social position would not be a major consideration. However, these groups often displayed a greater degree of knowledge of the Scriptures, and an higher ability to argue religious questions. In part this was due to well organized academies to train their preachers. They also had an important role for "lay preachers" who essential took on that role on a part-time basis in addition to their regular occupation. (While money was not much of a consideration, it should be said these preachers had a great deal of status within their social group.)
The Methodists, despite their "radical" Wesleyian roots, were (by JA's time) quite conservative. They had also become much more structured and organized (but not bureaucratic) as they continued to grow. They also had little desire to antagonize the "Establishment" by radical dogma. They put a great emphasis on "Grace" based upon: service to the church; cultivation of the soul; and discipline in all aspects of life. Many historians argue that Methodism effectively rechanneled social forces in England, thereby preventing a revolution to occur as it did on the Continent. There was also a view that one could, by this discipline and hard work "get ahead." Ironically, this lead to desertions from the Methodist Church to the Church of England as families chose the latter religion to advance their social standing.
Dissenters were a much more varied lot. There was much less deference here to religious and secular authority. Education was not always a priority, one need not even be literate to preach. Some had very emotional tent-revival style meetings. One of the most extreme was the cult (in the traditonal, rather than modern sense) of Joanna Southcott. Whatever the form, they shared the power of preaching "by" the poor, rather than "at" the poor.
I think I've rambled on enough, and it may not really answer the question, but I trust it was of some benefit, and may spark someone more knowledgable to counter my arguements.
I remain, etc.
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.