THREE YOUNG CLERICS WHOSE ENTHUSIASM SHOCKED THE CHURCH

THE greatest Anglican churchman of the eighteenth century was Bishop Berkeley, a conscientious Irish prelate, whose great work, Principles of Human Knowledge, was an unanswerable demonstration of the immateriality of the world of sound and sense. More significant socially were the group of Methodists led by John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, three young clergymen who desired to revivify the Church of England and carry religion to the hordes of miners, slum dwellers, and rustics whom the Church was ignoring. The Church either shook its head at such enthusiasm (the eighteenth century still used-and deprecated-" enthusiasm" in its original sense of frenzy) or incited mobs to attack the Methodists. The Methodists ended by establishing independent chapels and instituting clergy of their own.

John Wesley was an indefatigable traveller, who for many years averaged fifteen miles a day on horseback and daily preached three or four sermons. His brother Charles wrote five thousand hymns, many of which are still sung. The Methodist Church became the largest Protestant denomination in the world, and its social influence was considerable: it tended towards conservatism among the middle class, and against what was to be the atheistical French Revolution, and it helped the coming change in morals and manners and the Evangelical movement which restored the vigour of the Established Church.