Cries of Anguish - Shouts of Praise: The Development of Wesleyan Revivalism 1739-1818

Charles Godwin, Originally published as Merlin Methodist Monograph No2, at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire 1994; republished by the Wesley Fellowship, 1999, pp62, £3.50.

This fascinating study of revivalism in early Methodism begins in 1739. In that year John Wesley read Jonathan Edwards’ account of the revival then in progress in New England in America and commented, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.” Very soon afterwards there were similar signs of the Spirit at work through the preaching of John and Charles Wesley. Dr Goodwin argues convincingly that John Wesley’s revival ministry began in London, and the surrounding areas, late in 1738, some months before his open-air preaching began in Bristol on 2 April 1739. The progress of the revival is traced for the next half century, carried on by John Wesley and his many itinerant preachers. Some attention is also given to the rise of Primitive Methodism in Staffordshire in 1807, directly the result of revival praying and preaching and the particular revival ethos of ‘Camp-meetings.’ As well as the prominence of soul-saving preaching in revival, this evaluation also demonstrates the place and power of revival praying in any great work of the Spirit. This analysis finishes in 1818, the year that marked the death of William Bramwell, arguably the last of the great Wesleyan revivalists. Dr Goodwin writes a very practical and pressing epilogue to his engaging study of Wesleyan revivalism with these telling words: “ … the one clear lesson that does emerge [from this study] is that, ideally, revivalism should be the work of the whole church – pastors and people, preaching and praying, working in partnership for the salvation of sinners.”