Early Methodist laypeople often described their conversion experiences in terms of seeing the suffering of Christ. This article considers this theme within early Methodist culture by examining the relationship between sight, suffering, and spiritual transformation in the hymns of Charles Wesley. Many of Wesley's hymns depict the suffering of Christ in evocative detail, encouraging the singer or reader to imagine and respond to this suffering in particular ways. I argue that Wesley presents the sight of Christ's suffering as having profound transformative power, at the heart of Christian experience. In doing so he constructs Methodist spirituality in a way that draws upon both the ancient Christian tradition of Passion devotion and contemporary eighteenth-century convictions about the power of the sight of suffering.
Published Online: 21 Aug 2006
Field of Research
220401 Christian Studies (incl Biblical Studies and Church History)