Wesley’s Britain in the 1700s - Ignorance
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Ignorance is not bliss, it produces both fear and unwise action and one key to banishing ignorance is being able to read. Wesley believed in education, and was perpetually in search of new material for the ‘approved’ education of his followers. By the end of his long life, he had been responsible for the publication of some 371 titles.
The Wesleys, inspired by Susanna Wesley [their Mum}, earned a reputation as pioneers in education. John Wesley wrote, edited or abridged some 400 publications. As well as theology, he wrote about music, marriage, medicine, abolitionism and politics. Wesley was “a logical thinker and expressed himself clearly, concisely and forcefully in writing”.
He became the human dynamo behind a publishing mill that produced inexpensive editions of books and tracts for Methodist society libraries [itself an innovation] and interested individuals. The array of subjects was vast. His medical book Primitive Physic was the most popular medical book in the 1700s and by 1768 had already appeared in 13 editions.
In Scotland in 1700 around 45 percent the population could read, and by the end of the 1700s it would rise to 85 percent. England's literacy rate in this same period is described as having risen from 45 to 63 percent.
Wesley's legacy is also preserved in Kingswood School, which he founded in 1748 in order to educate the children of the growing number of Methodist preachers.