Australian Revivals and Overseas Missions: The John Watsford Experience
By Mark Walker
Paper Delivered at the Pentecostal Heritage Conference, Heritage 2003: Revival, Southern Cross College, July 2003.
John Watsford became part of a missionary tradition which had been envisioned by some of the leading evangelicals in England in the months before British settlement of Australia. When the First Fleet was being prepared to sail to Botany Bay, men like John Newton and William Wilberforce, seeing the potential for the new colony to become a base for Christian missions to reach the southern world, and in particular the nations of the South Pacific, used their influence with the British government to have an evangelical Anglican minister appointed as chaplain.1 By the time Watsford was born in 1820, the Australian Wesleyan Methodists were about to become prominent among those who worked to fulfill the vision. Australia’s first Wesleyan minister, Rev. Samuel Leigh, established their first mission in New Zealand in 1822,2 and Rev. Walter and Mary Lawry went to Tonga in the same year.3 Whether he received it from them or not, Walter Lawry certainly shared the vision of the Eclectic Society members. In 1818 he wrote,
From us, in a few years, I expect to see missionaries sallying forth to those numerous islands, which spot the sea on every side of us – the Friendly islands, the Fijis, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, New Zealand, New Guinea, New Ireland, & c… I am fully persuaded that this is the key of the Southern Hemisphere…4
This vision was still alive in 1853 when Rev. William Boyce, soon to become the first Chairman of the Australasian Conference,5 addressed a deputation from Britain.
From Sydney the work has spread… Hence, our city may claim to be… the spiritual Jerusalem of Australia, New Zealand, and Polynesia. It is our desire, both as a city and as a church, to retain this distinguished honour, by afresh and more zealously identifying ourselves with the cause of God… also with its Missionary work among the numerous islands of the Pacific.6
By 1926, the same vision was still before Christians from various denominations gathered at the Australian Missionary Conference. In the foreword to the conference’s report, however, it was not from Wilberforce and his friends that inspiration was drawn, but from a more recent British political figure; “Lord Rosebury, in conference with a group of Australian statesmen forty years ago, said: ‘The destiny of Australia is to become the trustee of the Pacific.’”7 Although this may originally have been spoken with imperial undertones, the report’s authors had no difficulty employing it as inspiration for Christian missions. The same report shows 758 Australian workers currently engaged in overseas missions, and one speaker made the point that in terms of financial support, “Australia was the third largest contributor toward missionary work” behind the United States and Canada (combined) and Great Britain.8 Indicative of the continuing vision, “The Commission felt that Australia’s share could be largely augmented.”9
After Tonga other missions were soon begun by the Wesleyans, including Fiji where the first European missionaries arrived in 1835, and by the time John Watsford arrived as the first Australian-born missionary in August 1844, eight missionaries and their wives had served in Fiji, although most of these had little relationship with Australia.10 Mary Anne Lyth, who with her husband Richard had been in Fiji for some five years by then, expressed her delight at the arrival of the two missionaries from New South Wales, Watsford and David Hazlewood. She ventured the opinion that they appeared, “very suitable for their work – both young men of Education”,11 although it’s unlikely they had received much in the way of specific education for their missionary vocation.12 Although both men were able to make a major contribution in translation and linguistic work,13 Watsford did not match the intellectual prowess of Hazlewood.14 Anyway, it was to be their spiritual qualities perhaps more than their education that would prove their suitability.
If such a vision for overseas missions was embedded in its spiritual DNA, then it might reasonably be expected that whenever Australian evangelical Christianity experiences revival the vision for missions would be similarly revived.15 Indeed, Stuart Piggin has contended that the modern missionary movement worldwide is a product of revival,16 and that the links between the two are not merely strong, but essential.17 He observed earlier that
It is significant that evangelicalism was born of revival … Evangelicalism cannot rise higher than its source, and when the dimension of revival drops out of the thought and experience of evangelicals, their movement devolves into something less than evangelicalism.18
On the same principle, when the dimension of Overseas Missions drops out of revival, it devolves into something less than Australian evangelical revival. Much work remains to be done to thoroughly investigate this correlation in an Australian context, but this paper will make a start by examining the experience of one Wesleyan Methodist minister and missionary who experienced revival, or in his words “glorious gospel triumphs” both in Fiji and Australia, Rev. John Watsford.19 British Wesleyan leader Hugh Price Hughes said of Watsford, “He had, in fact, that greatest of all gifts which the early Methodist preachers, amid all their shortcomings and infirmities, so richly enjoyed, namely, the unction of the Holy Ghost.”20 That quality, and the availability of his autobiography, makes him a suitable starting point.
Hilary Carey has described the evangelical religion of which Methodism was a part as having come to Botany Bay, along with other types of Christianity, as “part of the cultural baggage of the first fleet”.21 However true this may be, Methodism certainly brought with it a heritage of revival. Historians, however, have not been united in interpreting Methodism as a revival movement, and a brief survey of several examples is helpful.
In his nineteenth-century history of Methodism, George Smith confidently interpreted Methodism as a glorious revival from God, and nothing less than “a GREAT REFORMATION”.22 Admittedly, in common with most early histories of Methodism, Smith’s was an authorized work which the author described as a “friendly but faithful narrative”,23 designed to be appreciated by the Methodist Connexion,24 Given such a desire to please those who had commissioned his work, it is hardly surprising that a contemporary reviewer found it to be “as fair an account . . . as could be expected from a partisan”.25 Apparently sensitive to such criticisms of religious history, Smith felt the need to defend this charge of partisanship, insisting that despite his personal approbation of Methodism he had not “sacrificed truth to partiality”.26 Smith exhibited a commendable Rankean hunger for primary sources and verifiable facts,27 and claimed it was from these he could justify equating Methodism with glorious revival.28
Similarly, contributors to A New History of Methodism,29 which appeared early in the twentieth century, had in common their love of Methodism.30 In his introduction, Herbert Workman interpreted Methodism, and indeed all ecclesiastical history, as a work of the Spirit of God, claiming for Methodism a special place in the divine plan31 by virtue of Wesley’s emphasis on experience.32 He interpreted this as a reaction to Deism,33 and suggested that Methodism was akin to monasticism in its use of lay preachers since not all monks were priests.34 Workman also held that Methodism was very close to the structure of the early church,35 actually leading the way in the restoration of both the apostolate, at least in terms of poverty and itinerancy,36 and the role of women.37 The New History, then, interpreted Methodism as a restoration to the church of New Testament vitality and practice, continuing and developing the best of earlier renewal movements, thus echoing Smith’s emphasis on Methodism as revival.
Later, a very different view is presented by secular historians, for example in Edward Thompson’s classic The Making of the English Working Class, first published in 1963,38 which includes a “pungent Marxist interpretation of Methodism”.39 Thompson’s vituperation reaches a fever pitch as he attempts a psycho-sexual analysis of Methodist worship, sermons and hymns,40 concluding that the movement involved “a ritualized form of psychic masturbation”,41 which released energies and emotions that may otherwise have been directed into social change. Methodists’ “Sabbath orgasms of feeling”42 he claims, left its adherents more submissive and single-minded in their weekday labour. This forms part of his thesis that deep tensions within Wesleyanism led to an enervating oscillation between negative and positive poles such as hope and despair,43 religious revivalism and radical politics,44 and authoritarianism and libertarianism.45 Thus he claims that Methodism disorganised human life, reversing every spontaneous impulse so that joy became sinful and suffering was associated with goodness and love,46 and producing “a generation of ‘religious invalids’” whose weakness had allowed them to be changed from independent people to submissive, mindless, industrial workers.47 This, at least in part, is what Thompson understood by “the transforming power of the cross”,48 as effected through Methodist theological tenets of “submissiveness and the sanctification of labour”.49 Thompson assumes that English workers were ‘victims’ rather than willing participants in Methodism, and expresses anger that people could allow themselves to be manipulated in such a manner.50
However Thompson and others would interpret Methodism later, it seems clear that Wesleyan Methodists arriving in the Australian colonies brought with them a strain of evangelical Christian religion they believed was given by God, as a revival of the best features of early Christianity and of renewal movements throughout the Church’s history.51 Their religion emphasised personal experience52 and proclaimed that salvation was available to all, even if it was not so egalitarian in its leadership structure.53 Those who imported Wesleyanism into New South Wales brought with them a faith which was to become a significant factor in early Australian history as the largest non-Anglican Protestant denomination, and because of its prominent social involvement.54 It was also to become the denomination which most commonly experienced revival in colonial Australia.55
In their definitive study of Methodism in New South Wales,56 which covers its beginnings through to the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977, Don Wright and Eric Clancy depict Wesleyan Methodism as struggling to take root in “hardly congenial soil”,57 an assessment of colonial society’s moral climate they share with the Methodist laymen who first requested that a minister be sent.58 But by mid-century, and particularly following its 1855 “independence” from the English Connexion,59 it became the colony’s “fastest growing denomination”.60
General histories of the Australian churches naturally, therefore, give considerable space to Methodism. Ian Breward characterises Methodists as being concerned for evangelism, highlighting their efforts to reach children, mainly through Sunday Schools in which women taught in large numbers,61 and stresses the Methodists’ intense desire for revival, particularly in the mid-nineteenth century.62 However, Breward is careful not to interpret Methodism too narrowly, emphasising also its concern for social involvement and reform.63 He alludes to the latter-day decline of Methodism, along with other denominations, from the 1950s, and finds reasons in the wider context of Australia’s developing multi-culturalism.64 Iain Murray agrees with this interpretation generally, although his assessment is narrower, and may be summed up in the words of one of Australian Methodism’s great Victorian leaders; “a revival movement that gathered such force and then subsided”.65 According to Murray, though, this decline was already happening in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was due to the entrance of doubt over the “definite truths” of the gospel rather than any external factors.66 Writing from an evangelical perspective,67 and describing the best tradition of evangelical historiography as that which “makes the heart glow, nerves the will, and stores the mind with useful truth”,68 Piggin calls Methodists “the most Pietistic of Australia’s evangelicals”69 and not only recognises that they expected and experienced more revivals than other denominations,70 but sees a series of revivals as the most likely, but not the only, explanation for this growth.71
Being a Wesleyan in nineteenth-century Sydney meant far more than attending Sunday services with their focus on preaching, uninhibited singing and fervent praying, or even the class meetings where people shared their spiritual experiences.72 It meant regular personal and family devotions, which were encouraged by Wesleyan ministers and literature.73 It also meant attending occasional larger outdoor preaching and worship events, called camp meetings even though they usually lasted only one day, and involvement in revivals – at least in the sense of a series of evangelistic meetings, sometimes held over several weeks.74 There were love-feasts, usually held quarterly, at which the emphasis was on the love, which took the form of fellowship, singing, prayer and testimony, rather than the feast which consisted simply of bread and water.75 Whether by design or not, this illustrated the balance in Wesleyan living where the spiritual consistently took precedence over the natural. Yet Wesleyans were not disengaged from the world, and even becoming wealthy was acceptable so long as it was achieved through hard work – provided their work did not take priority over their religious observance. Recreation and entertainment were allowed provided they tended to advance the participants’ spiritual lives and could be considered optimal use of time.76 In nineteenth-century New South Wales, a Methodist life was a life of holiness and devotion expressed in the family and church, with a schedule of activities which reflected the common concern of evangelicals with the full and proper use of time. Such was the milieu into which John Watsford was born at Parramatta on December 5, 1820.77
Watsford’s first experience of revival was in his birthplace, Parramatta, in 1840. Although he had been raised from birth in a Wesleyan home,78 he testified to having experienced conversion in 1838, and being “baptized with the Holy Ghost” shortly after.79 In July 1839 he had been accepted, on trial, to join “a band of earnest local preachers”,80 some of whom he described as “men of great spiritual power, men who believed in prayer and fasting.”81 Yet Watsford was able to describe the state of “religion” as low just before the 1840 revival began, a condition which he attributed to the “old and nearly worn out” condition of the Circuit’s minister.82 Watsford attributes the breakthrough to focused prayer and fasting over a four-week period by himself and two other local preachers. Specifically, their prayer was for “the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the revival of God’s work”.83 This first experience became paradigmatic for Watsford, as he often associated revival with similar pleas by “praying men”.84 The Parramatta revival was followed by others in the Windsor Circuit,85 which Watsford described as “true revivals” because of the fruit produced; changed lives, earnest service and cheerful giving – notably to missions.86
Before proceeding to an analysis of Watsford’s experience of and attitude to revival, it will be profitable to review another ‘first revival’ for Watsford, his first in Fiji. Watsford’s heart had been stirred by a period of contact with Rev. James Watkin, who wrote the appeal, Pity Poor Fiji.87 This stirring was enhanced by the visit of Rev. John Waterhouse, then General Superintendent of the Wesleyans’ Polynesian Missions. Watsford recalls the impact of that occasion.
Mr. Waterhouse had the soul of a true missionary. He had just come from Tonga and Fiji, and preached to us on the Sunday from ‘They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’ I never saw a congregation melted as that was. Old and young, ministers and laymen, wept like children. The sobbing of the people sometimes almost stopped the preacher in his sermon.88
That Watsford was one of those ‘melted’ becomes obvious in that he allowed Rev. John McKenny to offer him as a candidate for Fiji. Waterhouse declined because of Watsford’s youth, but told him to be ready next time he came. He died before he could return, however, and Watsford had to be content to be part of the answer to Waterhouse’s dying prayer for “More missionaries, more missionaries!”89 In a sequence of events which was to become common among Wesleyan missionaries, Watsford and his bride of less than a month,90 Elizabeth,91 sailed for Fiji with another newlywed couple, David and Jane Hazelwood, on the missionary brigantine Triton, described as a “wretched old tub”.92
At Viwa in 1848, Watsford first experienced revival in Fiji, after weeks of private prayer by the missionaries and special prayer meetings “for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit” on those who had become nominal Christians.93 Finally,
The mighty power of God came in a remarkable manner upon the people, and there was a great cry for mercy from hundreds bowed in deep distress. The floor of the church was wet with the tears of the penitents. When the wave of power first broke upon us… The distress of some was very great, and so was the joy of others who were trusting in Jesus… Oh, what a meeting that was! How many were saved I know not. Many left the church, and went to their homes weeping aloud, and all through that night there was distress all over the town. We could get no sleep, for again and again we were sent for to pray for some who refused to be comforted until Jesus came and saved them. Day after day the good work went on. The people were so affected that they neglected to prepare their food; nothing was thought of but salvation.94
Reflecting on this revival many years later, Watsford felt moved to make the point that, “Some Christians are very anxious to have all men saved in a very quiet way, free from all excitement; but I think their view is very unreasonable, and certainly unscriptural.”95 Such reflection by Watsford, on this and the many other revivals he experienced,96 in terms of the relationship between revival and conversion, believers, revivalism and overseas missions, will be the focus of the rest of this study.
It is clear from Watsford’s recollections of his first revivals in both Australia and Fiji, that he saw the conversion of sinners as a very important part of revival. In fact, he was adamant that true revival would not be contained within the company of believers, but would always result in conversions. The conversion of sinners was the expected result of the ministers and members being filled with the Spirit,97 a view which he stated succinctly; “A revival of holiness in the Church means an awakening among the unsaved.”98 As to his understanding of conversion, Watsford could come within the scope of Louis Bouyer’s complaint, against an early Pietist, that he “set up his own experience as a norm”.99 Certainly Watsford’s descriptions of the conversion of others, especially in times of revival, contain the same pietistic and Wesleyan elements as his own; a period of distressing conviction, a cry for mercy, and a release of great joy upon the realisation of forgiveness.100
Along with the criticism of too much noise and excitement levelled at conversion in revival, people questioned the lasting quality of these conversions. Watsford’s answer was simple. Not only did he argue from Scripture,101 and contend that most Australian Methodists had been converted in revivals,102 but he also pointed out that many among those who were converted quietly also backslid. Therefore, if backsliding was a valid criticism of excited conversions it was just as much a criticism of those which were quiet and dignified.103
Although noise and crying under conviction of sin were features of Watsford’s revivals, he was not looking for supernatural phenomena beyond the saving of souls. When he said “the power of the Lord will be present to heal”, he meant the Lord was working to convert sinners – first wounding them with conviction of sin and then healing them with gospel balm.104
However, as has been noted above, the marks of a true revival, for Watsford, included changes in the lives of believers, such that they became cheerful givers and earnest workers for Christ.105 His report of the first Fijian revival also reveals his understanding that in revival nominal Christians would be similarly transformed, experiencing “the life and power of godliness”.106
A feature of the revivals described by Watsford was that the people wanted to meet more often than at other times. For example, in Adelaide’s Pirie Street church meetings were held “night after night for weeks” while midday prayer-meetings were attended by as many as two hundred.107 An interrupted schedule, including late nights, was a feature of these revivals, even among hard-working people in country Circuits.108 The transformation of the church’s workers was clearly gratifying to Watsford as he reported that they “were all baptized with the Holy Spirit, and heartily entered into the work”.109 It is important to note, though, that here, as everywhere, Watsford saw the appropriate work for these revived believers as evangelism.110
Of course, Watsford was not alone in his views. In 1894, British Methodist evangelist Thomas Cook toured Australasia, and said of his first meetings in Albany, Western Australia,
Our mission commenced with a service to Christians, because we believe a revived Church is the first great need… All filled with the Spirit, and consequently with holy all-absorbing enthusiasm to save the lost, and all “workers together with Him,” is the secret of a real and genuine revival… “Until the Spirit be poured out,” saints are neither quickened nor sinners saved.111
Watsford’s assessment of his peers in Parramatta as “men of great spiritual power” has been noted above, but his attitude to revivalism comes into focus as he further describes them as men who
did not depend upon a stranger coming now and then to hold special services and bring sinners to Christ. They believed in the Holy Ghost, and pleaded for His coming in connection with the ordinary services. As a result, there were “showers of blessing,” glorious revivals… no matter who was conducting the service.”112
Later, he spoke disparagingly of series of special “revival missions” which allowed the church to experience a little refreshing and a few conversions, and then revert to their “cold dead way”.113 Wright and Clancy have pointed out features which would have met with Watsford’s approval in a spate of Methodist revivals in New South Wales near the end of the nineteenth century, where, “with very rare exceptions, they were all local efforts, the result of local prayer and of preaching by the circuit minister and the local preachers. Often revival was not even the result of special services...”114
There are times, though, when Watsford seems almost to endorse the repetitious application of practices in order to produce revival. For example, speaking of his work in South Melbourne from 1874, Watsford said,
I consecrated myself wholly to the Lord… met the local preachers, leaders, and other earnest workers in my study to talk about God’s work and pray for his blessing… began to preach on Entire Sanctification… visited all our people… I had found these means succeed elsewhere, and I believed they would succeed here.115
However, this is Methodism rather than revivalism, and illustrates Watsford’s consistently preferred alternative to revivalism, the outpouring of the Spirit on the ordinary work of the church.
Considering Watsford’s rhetoric against revivalism, particularly his opposition to special series of meetings using an evangelist imported into a circuit for the purpose, it is perhaps surprising to see him call the one man who did more than any other to move Australian Wesleyans in that direction a “great and good man… the grandest evangelist that ever visited Australia”.116 It is not, however, unusual to find Australian Methodists and other evangelicals speaking positively of the character and ministry of that man, William “California” Taylor.117 Watsford was able to distinguish between revivalists (or evangelists), whom he could endorse, and revivalism which he eschewed. At the same time as he could say, “There are no doubt some men who are peculiarly fitted for revival work, and when God sends them to us we ought to be thankful”,118 he could warn that a revivalistic dependence on special meetings and evangelists would “weaken, if not destroy, the Church.”119
Again, Thomas Cook is in agreement with Watsford:
No help from outside is useful which tends to release ministers and people from a full sense of personal responsibility… no real good can result… to allow the work of conversion to cease with the departure of the missioner is as wrong as it is unwise.120
In typical style, Watsford expressed his vision of Methodism’s need at the end of the nineteenth century:
What we want is a great movement in all our Circuits in connection with the usual means of grace – ministers and officers and members of the Church all baptized with the Holy Spirit, all living the Christlike life, and all labouring to win souls for Jesus. Then would God, our own God, bless us, and Methodism to-day would be stronger and more successful than ever it was in the past.121
The link between revival and overseas missions in Watsford’s thinking can be seen in that when he had opportunity to speak of the Fijian mission at Rome, his approach was to tell the story of the first revival he had seen there. The immediate effect was that six students volunteered to go to Fiji as missionaries, while in other places the story inspired Christians who were praying for missionary success.122
His removal from the Fijian mission field, forced by his wife’s failing health, in no way dampened Watsford’s enthusiasm for missions. He expressed his delight at being able to assist in “most enthusiastic and successful” missionary meetings in various circuits.123 He was also happy, in 1887, for his daughter Emma to marry Rev. Benjamin Danks, a Wesleyan missionary to New Britain, despite its “unhealthy climate”.124 Watsford was also happy, on his only visit to England, to be a missionary speaker at a crowded missions conference in Leeds where, as he “told the story of one of the most glorious pages in missionary annals”, the crowd was “overwhelmed with emotion and Divine influence”.125 Watsford expressed a very explicit and direct link between revival and missions:
“We need to-day the Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit on all our Churches. Then we should have all the missionaries we require – missionaries full of the Holy Ghost, and fully equipped for their work.” 126
Although leading its readers to the unavoidable conclusion that Watsford saw revival as an essential factor in fulfilling the church’s mandate for mission, both at home and overseas, his autobiography does not provide a record of which missionaries could actually trace their call to an experience of revival in Australia. That will have to be found from other sources, and the task may be all the harder simply because revival was so often an intensification of the work of the Spirit in the ordinary services of the church. These ordinary services included regular missionary meetings, designed to fan the flames of missionary vision, raise contributions, and encourage volunteers. Records of these meetings, where they can be found, may prove helpful. Another hopeful avenue for further investigation is the practice of Wesleyan ministry candidates offering themselves either for service in the Australian colonies only or for broader service including overseas missions.127 If records of these preferences exist, it may be possible to ascertain whether, as may perhaps be expected, there is a higher proportion of missionary volunteers among those who have experienced revival. The extent to which such investigations, and others along similar lines, will prove fruitful remains to be seen. But the experience and theological reflections of John Watsford strongly suggest that they should be undertaken.
Australian Missionary Conference, Australia Facing the Non-Christian World: Report of the Australian Missionary Conference, together with Addresses by Dr. John R. Mott, held at Melbourne, April, 1926, (Melbourne: Alpha, 1926)
Benson, C. I., A Century of Victorian Methodism (Melbourne: Spectator, 1935)
Bouyer, L., A History of Christian Spirituality (Burns & Oats: London, 1969) Vol. 3
Breward, I., A History of the Australian Churches (St Leonards NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993)
Carey, H. M., Believing in Australia: a Cultural History of Religions (St. Leonards NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1996)
Claughton, S. G., ‘Lawry, Walter (1793-1859)’, in Pike, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 2 pp. 95-96
Cole, K., A History of the Church Missionary Society of Australia (Melbourne: Church Missionary Historical Publications, 1971)
Colwell, J., The Illustrated History of Methodism: Australia; 1812 to 1855, New South Wales and Polynesia; 1856 to 1902 (Sydney: William Brooks and Co., 1904)
Cook, Thomas, Days of God’s Right Hand: Our Mission Tour in Australasia and Ceylon (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1896)
Doust, R. H., ‘Leigh, Samuel (1785-1852)’, in Pike, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 2 p.105
Evans, R., Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia, (Hazelbrook: The Author, 2000)
Halévy, E., A History of the English People in 1815 (A History of the English People Vol. 1; London: Ark Paperbacks, 1987; French orig., 1912)
Harman, N. B. [ed.], Encyclopedia of World Methodism Vol. 1 [Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1974] pp.185-187
Hempton, D., The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion c. 1750-1900 (London: Routledge, 1996)
Hutchinson, M., E. Campion and S. Piggin (Eds.), Reviving Australia: Essays on the History and Experience of Revival in Australian Christianity (Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1994)
Hutchinson, M. and G. Treloar, (Eds.), This Gospel Shall Be Preached: Essays on the Australian Contribution to World Mission. (Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1998)
Luker, D., ‘Revivalism in Theory and Practice: The Case of Cornish Methodism’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 37,4 (1986): 603-619
Macintosh, N. K. Richard Johnson: Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1978)
Murray, I. H., Australian Christian Life from 1788: An Introduction and an Anthology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1988)
Piggin, S., ‘Introduction: Revival, Revivalism and Australian Christianity’, in Hutchinson, M., E. Campion and S. Piggin (Eds.), Reviving Australia: Essays on the History and Experience of Revival in Australian Christianity (Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1994), pp.6-12
Piggin, S., Evangelical Christianity in Australia: Spirit, Word and World (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996)
Piggin, S., ‘Introduction: The Reflex Impact of Missions on Australian Christianity’, in Hutchinson, M. and G. Treloar, Eds., This Gospel Shall Be Preached: Essays on the Australian Contribution to World Mission. (Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1998), pp.7-26
Piggin, S., Firestorm of the Lord: The History of and Prospects for Revival in the Church and the World (Carlisle: Paternoster 2000)
Pike, D. (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol. 2 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1967)
Semmel, B, The Methodist Revolution (London: Heinemann, 1974)
Smith, G., History of Wesleyan Methodism Volume 1, Wesley and His Times (London: Longman, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 5th ed., 1866)
Smith, G., History of Wesleyan Methodism Volume 2, The Middle Age (London: Longman, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 5th ed., 1872)
Sugden, E. H., ‘In Australasia’ in Townsend, W. J., Workman, H. B., and Eayrs, G. [eds.], A New History of Methodism (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909), Vol 2 pp.237-265
Thompson, E. P., The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth: Penguin, Rev. ed., 1980)
Tippett, A. R., Growth of the Church in Fiji – ‘It becometh a tree’ feature article of the Souvenir of the First Fiji Methodist Conference (Suva: Methodist Church Press, 1964) pp 11-31
Townsend, W. J., Workman, H. B., and Eayrs, G. (eds.), A New History of Methodism (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909), 2 Vols.
Watsford, J., Glorious Gospel Triumphs as seen in my life and work in Fiji and Australia. (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1900)
Wearmouth, R. F., Methodism and the Working-class Movements of England (London: Epworth, 1937)
Wood, A. H., ‘Australia’ in Harman, N. B. [ed.], Encyclopedia of World Methodism Vol. 1 (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1974)
Wood, A. H., Overseas Missions of the Australian Methodist Church Vol. 2 Fiji. (Melbourne: Aldersgate Press, 1978)
Workman, H. B., ‘Introduction: the Place of Methodism in the Life and Thought of the Christian Church’, in Townsend, et al, New History Vol. 1, pp.3-73
Wright, D. and E. Clancy, The Methodists: a History of Methodism in NSW (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1993)
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1. While the view is sometimes held that the Clapham Sect or Elland Society were responsible for Richard Johnson’s appointment, Cole claims it was members of the Eclectic Society, founded in 1783 by John Newton (Cole, K., A History of the Church Missionary Society of Australia [Melbourne: Church Missionary Historical Publications, 1971], p.6). It is clear that several men were members of more than one of these groups, including William Wilberforce on whose advice Cole claims that the Prime Minister accepted Johnson (ibid., p.4-6). Macintosh builds a particularly strong case for Newton’s involvement, and that responsibility lay with the Eclectic Society rather than the Clapham Sect or the Elland Society (Macintosh, N. K. Richard Johnson: Chaplain to the Colony of New South Wales [Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1978], pp.20-29).
2. Doust, R. H., ‘Leigh, Samuel (1785-1852)’, in Pike, D. (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol. 2 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1967), p. 105
3. Claughton, S. G., ‘Lawry, Walter (1793-1859)’, in ibid., pp. 95-96, p.95
4. Tippett, Alan R., Growth of the Church in Fiji – ‘It becometh a tree’ feature article of the Souvenir of the First Fiji Methodist Conference published at the Methodist Church Press, Suva, 1964. pp 11-31, p13 (Tippett Collection, St Mark’s Library, Canberra, TIP 70/7/18).
5. A minute from the Wesleyan Conference, Birmingham, Aug 9th, 1854, reads “The Revd. William Binnington Boyce is hereby appointed the first President of the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Conference. John Farrar, President, John Hannah, D.D., Secretary” (Box 523, WMMS collection, SOAS, London)
6. Young, R., The Southern World. Journal of a deputation from the Wesleyan conference to Australia and Polynesia: including notices of a visit to the gold fields (London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1854), p.96. This was a one-man delegation, Rev. Robert Young.
7. Australian Missionary Conference, Australia Facing the Non-Christian World: Report of the Australian Missionary Conference, together with Addresses by Dr. John R. Mott, held at Melbourne, April, 1926, (Melbourne: Alpha, 1926) p.3
8. Ibid., p.6
9. Ibid., p.7
10. Wood, A. H., Overseas missions of the Australian Methodist Church Vol. 2: Fiji (Melbourne: Aldersgate Press, 1978), p.389. Wood’s list has eight names above Watsford’s, and the name after his is David Hazlewood, who arrived on the same vessel as Watsford. Five of these missionaries were still serving at the time of Watsford’s arrival.
11. Letter from Mary Anne Lyth, Somosomo, Feejee to Mrs John Jackson, Friargate, York, England, July 4th 1845, National Library of Australia, Canberra. MS 6658 f53 p3. Watsford had been one of the early students at The King’s School, Parramatta, and “became the first of the old boys to be appointed to the teaching staff at Kings” (The Biographical Index, www.relativelyyours.com/dalrymple/1403Biographies.htm#2612 accessed 7-7-2003).
12. In addition to experience in Australia they had, at least, undergone three months of on-the-job-training in Tonga with Rev. John Thomas (Watsford, John, Glorious Gospel Triumphs as seen in My Life and Work in Fiji and Australasia, [London: Charles H. Kelly, 1900], p31)
13. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, pp.37, 102-103
14. Wood, Overseas Missions, pp78-79
15. Stuart Piggin (‘Introduction: The Reflex Impact of Missions on Australian Christianity’, in Hutchinson, M. and G. Treloar, Eds., This Gospel Shall Be Preached: Essays on the Australian Contribution to World Mission. [Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1998], pp.7-26, p.12) has recognized the interaction between revival and cross-cultural missions, and in particular Methodist missions in Fiji, and shows that there is two-way impact between the sending and receiving countries.
16. Piggin, S., Firestorm of the Lord: The History of and Prospects for Revival in the Church and the World (Carlisle: Paternoster 2000), p57
17. Ibid., p58
18. Piggin, S., ‘Introduction: Revival, Revivalism and Australian Christianity’, in Hutchinson, M., E. Campion and S. Piggin (Eds.), Reviving Australia: Essays on the History and Experience of Revival in Australian Christianity (Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity, 1994), pp.6-12, p.7
19. Watsford, Glorious Gospel
20. Ibid., p.xii
21. Carey, H. M., Believing in Australia: a Cultural History of Religions (St. Leonards NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1996), p.xvi
22. Smith, G., History of Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 1 (London: Longman, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 5th ed., 1866), Vol. 1, p.672
23. Smith, Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 2, (1872), p.vii. Writing of himself in the third person, he says “He deeply regrets having had to investigate the troubles and collisions which followed the death of Wesley. They could not, however, be avoided, and he has not shrunk from his duty, but prosecuted the inquiry in all candour and honesty”.
24. He stated that his intention was “to respond to the call in a way which he hopes will be appreciated by the Methodist Connexion” (Smith, Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 1, p.xi). Smith is described as “the connexial historian” in Luker, D., ‘Revivalism in Theory and Practice: The Case of Cornish Methodism’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 37,4 (1986): 603-619, p.607
25. Smith, Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 1, p.viii
26. Smith, Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 3, (1870), pp. vii-ix
27. Ibid, pp. vii-ix. Documents were apparently made freely available by the Methodist Connexion, and here he claims to have “spared neither labour nor cost in obtaining the best information”. This is an early example of at least partial adoption of Ranke’s principles, and although direct influence from Ranke here is possible, it is uncertain as English translations of his works only began to be published in the 1840s.
28. Ibid., Vol. 1, p.672
29. Townsend, W. J., H. B.Workman and G. Eayrs, (eds.), A New History of Methodism (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909), 2 Vols.
30. Ibid., Vol. 1, p.vii
31. Workman, Herbert B., ‘Introduction: the Place of Methodism in the Life and Thought of the Christian Church’, in Townsend, et al, New History Vol. 1, pp.3-73., pp.5-6
32. Ibid., p.27
33. “Wesley destroyed Deism, not by his pen, but by his deeds. . . In place of a frozen theology he gave us a living experience, in which God was not hidden, neither far off, but very nigh.” (Ibid., p12)
34. Ibid., pp.41-42. The suggestion is also made here that Methodism is similar to Monasticism in renunciation of the world, helping each other in developing spiritual life under leadership and a rule, a non-sacerdotal attitude to holiness, and immediate fellowship with God without a mediating priesthood.
35. Ibid., p.68
36. Ibid., pp.70-71
37. Ibid., pp.71-72
38. Thompson, E. P., The Making of the English Working Class (Harmondsworth: Penguin, Rev. ed., 1980)
39. Hempton, D., The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion c. 1750-1900 (London: Routledge, 1996), p.168
40. Thompson’s reading of sexual symbolism into Wesleyan hymns, for example, is unconvincing as he claims that “Christ, the personification of ‘Love’ to whom the great bulk of Wesleyan hymns are addressed, is by turns maternal, Oedipal, sexual and sado-masochistic” (Thompson, Working Class, p.407). A thorough critique of this aspect of his work is outside the scope of this paper, but Hempton (Religion of the People, p.3) points out that many felt “a great religious tradition had been immolated on the altar of the sexual faddism of the 1960s”.
41. Thompson, Working Class, p.405
42. Ibid., p.406
43. Ibid., p.427
44. Ibid., p.429
45. Ibid., p.430. Similar polarities had been identified earlier. Wearmouth, R. F., Methodism and the Working-class Movements of England (London: Epworth, 1937) pp.271-273, for example, notes dualism between individualism and collectivism, together with autocracy and democracy.
46. Thompson, Working Class, p.409
47. Hempton, Religion of the People, p.169
48. Thompson, Working Class, pp.385-440. This is the title of chapter 11.
49. Ibid., p.437
50. Hempton, Religion of the People, p.170. Specifically, “. . . he assumed too easily that English workers were ‘victims’ of Methodist indoctrination when most were willing participants in a voluntary association which offered them tangible benefits . . . he failed to answer the question why such large numbers should find his unattractive Methodism so attractive and answered instead the more angry question of how could they submit to such ‘religious terrorism’?”
51. Smith, Wesleyan Methodism Vol. 1, p.672; Workman, ‘The Place of Methodism’, p.37
52. Workman, ‘The Place of Methodism’, p.7; Hempton, Religion of the People, p.13
53. Semmel, B, The Methodist Revolution (London: Heinemann, 1974), pp,8, 26-27; Halévy, E., A History of the English People in 1815 (A History of the English People Vol. 1; London: Ark Paperbacks, 1987; French orig., 1912), p.379
54. Carey, Believing in Australia, p.88
55. Piggin, Firestorm, p64
56. Wright, Don, and Clancy, Eric, The Methodists: a History of Methodism in NSW (St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1993)
57. Ibid., p.3
58. Colwell, J., The Illustrated History of Methodism: Australia; 1812 to 1855, New South Wales and Polynesia; 1856 to 1902 (Sydney: William Brooks and Co., 1904), p.36. Colwell quotes an official letter from Thomas Bowden and J. Hosking which says of Sydney society in 1814, “All those ties of moral order, and feelings of decency, which bind society together, are not only relaxed, but almost extinct”.
59. Wright and Clancy, The Methodists, pp.xvii, 30-32. The “Australasian Wesleyan-Methodist Connexion” was actually constituted by the British Conference in 1854, with its first Conference held in Sydney in January 1885. (Wood, A. H., ‘Australia’ in Harman, N. B. [ed.], Encyclopedia of World Methodism Vol. 1 [Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1974] pp.185-187, p.186).
60. Wright and Clancy, The Methodists, p.3
61. Breward, I., A History of the Australian Churches (St Leonards NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993), p.58
62. Ibid., p.61
63. e.g., ibid., p.107
64. Ibid., p.231
65. Alexander Edgar, in Murray, I. H., Australian Christian Life from 1788: An Introduction and an Anthology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1988) p.318
66. Murray, Australian Christian Life, p.335-339
67. Piggin, S., Evangelical Christianity in Australia: Spirit, Word and World (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996), p.vii
68. Ibid., p.xii
69. Ibid., p.xi
70. Ibid., p.40
71. Ibid., p.40
72. Wright and Clancy, The Methodists, p.77
73. Ibid., p.72
74. Ibid., p.75
75. Ibid., p.76
76. Ibid., p.78
77. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.1
78. Sugden describes Watsford as, “Son of James Watsford, one of Leigh’s converts at Parramatta” (Sugden, E. H., ‘In Australasia’ in Townsend et al, New History, Vol 2 pp.237-265 p.248), and Leigh only ministered in Parramatta from 1815 to 1819, departing in the year before John Watsford’s birth. Colwell (Illustrated History, p.69) also calls James Watsford one of Leigh’s first converts.
79. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.16. Watsford’s description of his conversion is typical of Wesleyan Methodists of his time, and is redolent of the earlier pietists: “One day – how well I remember it! – I went into an upper room, and falling on my knees cried, “O God, I cannot live another day like this. The load of sin is crushing me down into hell. Have mercy upon me, and pardon all my sin, for Jesus Christ’s sake, who shed His blood for me.” In a moment I saw all my sins laid on Jesus, and I laid hold of Him as my present Saviour. My chains fell off, and my burden rolled away. Glory be to God! The witness of the Holy Spirit was so clear and distinct, that I thought at the time God really spoke to me from heaven: “Thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.” My joy was very great; it was “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.”
80. Ibid., p.17 He was recommended to the British conference as a ministry candidate in 1841 (ibid., p.19)
81. Ibid., p.20
82. Ibid., p.21
83. Ibid., p.21-22
84. For example, at Bourke St., Sydney (ibid., p.123), and South Melbourne (ibid., p.170)
85. Ibid., pp.23-28
86. Ibid., p.28. Watsford here describes the contribution, at one of their missionary meetings, of forty sovereigns from one woman’s missionary box, and says that at one meeting he and Rev. Lewis had to stop the people giving any more. It is not clear whether this was also a missionary meeting.
87. Ibid., p.19
88. Ibid., p.20
89. Ibid., p.20
90. Ibid., p.29 Although Watsford is very clear about the chronology of these events viz. married February 8, 1844 and departed for Fiji on March 2 of the same year, this conflicts with official records dating his marriage as February 8 1843 (Marriage Certificate V1843150 83/1843, and The Biographical Index, www.relativelyyours.com/dalrymple/1403Biographies.htm#2612 accessed 7-7-2003). Two possibilities present themselves; (1) his autobiography, written by an ageing man, is incorrect, or (2) the official records from the period are inaccurate.
91. (The Biographical Index, www.relativelyyours.com/dalrymple/1403Biographies.htm#2612 accessed 7-7-2003).
92. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.29
93. Ibid., p.51
94. Ibid., pp.51-53
95. Ibid., p.53
96. Evans, R., Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia, (Hazelbrook: The Author, 2000) notes many, e.g. Surry Hills (p.16), Maitland (p.35),Ballarat (p.176), Callington (p.329)
97. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.319
98. Ibid., p.160
99. Bouyer, L., A History of Christian Spirituality (London: Burns & Oats, 1969), Vol 3, p.172. Bouyer was writing about August Franke, whose account of his own conversion is similar to Watsford’s.
100. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.16
101. Ibid., p.53
102. Ibid., p.133
103. Ibid., p.132
104. Ibid., p.319, cf. Piggin, Firestorm, p.151
105. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.28
106. Ibid., p.51
107. Ibid., 127
108. Ibid., p.137
109. Ibid., p.128
110. Ibid., p.128
111. Cook, T., Days of God’s Right Hand: Our Mission Tour in Australasia and Ceylon (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1896) pp.27-28
112. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, pg. 20-21
113. Ibid., p.164
114. Wright and Clancy, The Methodists, p.122
115. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.169, emphasis added
116. Ibid., p.139
117. e.g. Benson, C., I, A Century of Victorian Methodism (Melbourne: Spectator, 1935), p.135
118. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.320
119. Ibid., p.320
120. Cook, Days, p.67
121. Watsford, Glorious Gospel, p.224
122. Ibid., p.54
123. Ibid., pg.112
124. Ibid., p.191
125. Hugh Price Hughes, in ibid., p.xii
126. Ibid., p. 286
127. Young, Southern World, p.124
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