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John Wesley (1703—1791) Church of England clergyman and a founder of Methodism

David Hume (1711—1776) philosopher and historian



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Term used pejoratively, especially in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for irrational and disturbed states of religious fervour, especially as found among Puritans, evangelicals, and low-church born-again zealots. Hume gives the definitive Enlightenment verdict: ‘A gloomy, hare-brained enthusiast, after his death, may have a place in the calendar; but will scarcely ever be admitted, when alive, into intimacy and society, except by those who are as delirious and dismal as himself’. Hume distinguishes enthusiasm from superstition, which is associated more with high-church and Catholic practice.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) — Philosophy.

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