"Be Not Righteous Overmuch,"
This was what Dr. Joseph Trapp preached to his audience including Whitefield (a famous Methodist preacher). What was it about Methodism that made it a target of ridicule throughout the 18th century. The attacks on Methodism came from everyone from every angle. Most of the people who attacked it, however, were the clergy. Calvinists were the most violent in their language of attack, and they were probably the most common of the besiegers. Whatever calumny, whatever injustice, whatever violence of language was displayed by the enemies of Methodism they never equalled the ferocity exhibited by the saints in their internal quarrels (Lyles 18). Toward the end of the century it did seem to grow more respectable, but that did not mean it was necessarily safe from criticism. The peaks for mocking Methodism seem to be the years 1739, 1760, 1772, and 1778.
A rector from St. Michael, John Downes, wanted all Methodist Preachers barred from the pulpit because he did not believe that high-flown expressions of piety counted because they were against common sense (23). A little like we scoff at the extremist and high-flown natures of people who preach in public, Methodists were also mocked for their equally disturbing strength of language. However, Methodists were not proud of the extremist picture that much of the English public would make of them. Most of them would argue correctly that they actually believed in the same basic doctrines as the Church of England. Many would also counter with the argument that the fact that they were targeted for so much mockery was a sign of the times; it just proved that religion was not what it used to be. The satirists of Methodism focused on five main dangers: they believed it offered an easy and false way to salvation, they "caused dissension and schism in the Church (an argument one can see Jonathan Swift making) they were deliberate hypocrites, were reviving religious fanaticism that was previously associated with Catholicism or Puritanism, they were in fact Papists and Jacobites in disguise.
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