Francis Asbury imposed a rigorous discipline and strict episcopacy on early American Methodists, and he envisioned a universal faith that would overwhelm the sectarian spirit that he saw prevalent in Baptist and Presbyterian churches. Following the precedents of Methodist founder John Wesley, Asbury promoted an experiential religion and holiness, accepting individual expressiveness in conversion, but demanding complete commitment from participants who were expected to pursue an ideal of perfection. They received support in class and society meetings where they could share concerns, shortcomings, and successes, and they could find models of their ideals in the selfless work of circuit riders whose example of openness and effort would trump particularity and smug complacency, Methodists hoped.
Keywords: circuit riders; class meetings; conversion; discipline; Francis Asbury; holiness; John Wesley; Methodist Societies; Methodists; universal faith
Chapter. 11064 words.
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