By Michael Farrell (auth.)
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Extra resources for Blake and the Methodists
27 But by 1739, Wesley had already began to form his own society, so that when he withdrew altogether from Hutton’s in 1740, his departure precipitated a mass resignation of nearly all female and a considerable number of male members from Fetter Lane. 28 He believed that a Christian could, in a spiritual sense, strive to be perfect, or free from wilful sin. The Moravians, on the other hand, held that sin was connate and Christians were therefore not perfectible through self-denial and righteous action.
Here, manumission is described in terms of ‘awakening’ which carries with it very specific religious connotations. Evangelical conversions, or what were termed spiritual awakenings, were often narrated using the metaphor of freedom from imprisonment. Wesley habitually published such conversion narratives in his Arminian Magazine whereby, typically, the ‘inchained soul’ is set free through the gift of God’s grace. 35 In America, moreover, Blake’s reference to ‘the linen wrapped up’ is at once a reference to John 20: 5–7,36 and perhaps a subtle allusion to The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where he compares the writings of Swedenborg to Christ’s ‘linen clothes folded up’ (E, 34).
28 At the heart of Blake’s infernal method is the idea of transformation through re-use, repetition, which is also fundamental to Blake’s Christology, Christ as type, an example to be followed, as articulated in Vala: Thus in a living Death the nameless shadow all things bound All mortal things made permanent that they may be put off Time after time by the Divine Lamb who died for all And all in him died. & put off all mortality (E, 383) ‘Time after time’ Christ puts off ‘mortal things’ so that we, following his example, might become everlasting, putting off death and undergoing a spiritual rebirth in a continual rejection of error.