Historians have been concerned about the issue of Methodism and politics since Lecky and Halevy suggested that revolution in Britain in the 1790s was averted by the influence of Methodism. For Halevy, Methodism was a stabilising influence in British society, making Jacobin propaganda unpopular and unacceptable to the people. Methodism not only taught religious doctrines of loyalty and submission to the State, but also inculcated the idea that the liberties of Englishmen were in direct opposition to revolutionary principles. From the French Revolution onwards and through the wars that followed, asserted Halevy, Nonconformity — and especially Methodism — caused ‘an uninterrupted decline in revolutionary spirit’.1 The Halevy thesis found support in most subsequent works but found its strongest and most recent supporter in E. P. Thompson.
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