they developed their own forms of religious expression outside the established order in church and state, emphasizing personal conversion, regular Bible study, the formation of conventicles for prayer and devotion, a strict methodical manner of living, and the practice of charity. Some believed that the millennium was imminent, and they lived in the fervent expectation of Christ's return. These Protestant groups became known as Pietists, and their movement spread, assisted by the printing press, networks of correspondence, the migration of Europeans to the New World, and the missionary zeal of one of their groups, the small colony of Protestant Bohemian refugees that had settled on the Saxon estate of Count Zinzendorf and whose members became known as the Moravian brethren. The Protestant awakening reached Britain, initially Wales, in the 1730s, finding support among labouring men and women who were largely outside the established churches. The emotional itinerant preaching of John Wesley and George Whitefield attracted vast crowds, often in great outdoor meetings, while Wesley organized his converts on the model of continental Pietists into Methodist class meetings. At about the same time, a series of revivals swept through the British colonies in North America, transforming and renewing the religious life in what became known as the Great Awakening.
It was not only the Protestant churches that were affected by a heart-felt and experiential faith. Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, the Roman Catholic Church in France also experienced a movement of spiritual renewal known as Jansenism that had some similarities to the Protestant awakenings. Jansenism emerged largely as a reaction against the triumphalist 'Baroque' orthodoxy of the Catholic Reformation - especially as promoted by the Society of Jesus. Profoundly influenced by the writings of St. Augustine, Jansenists sought to revive an emphasis on predestination and individual conversion through the grace of God, and to cultivate an emotional devotional life. They formed communities of the faithful, practised a rigorous morality, elevated the role of the laity, and engaged in acts of charity. Some strands of Jansenism, especially the more popular 'Convulsionaries' of the early eighteenth century, believed in miraculous healings and felt moved by the Holy Spirit to prophesize. When the Catholic establishment and the Bourbon kings sought to repress the movement, Jansenists became increasingly politicized, intensifying both their anticlerical rhetoric and their opposition to the absolute monarchy. In the course of the eighteenth century, despite the condemnation of some aspects of Jansenism by the papacy, the movement spread among Catholics in the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and the north of Italy.
Was this article helpful?