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Bell, George
d.1807

Methodist enthusiast. A former corporal in the Life Guards, he was converted in 1758 and joined the Foundery Society, where he became associated with Thomas Maxfield. In March 1761 he claimed the gift of entire sanctification, including infallibility, and attempted miraculous healings. John Wesley was slow to condemn him or to counteract his influence and he gained the allegiance of many of the London Methodists. Early in 1763 he and Maxfield left the society, along with about one fifth of the members. His prophesy that the Second Coming would occur on 28th February caused widespread consternation and he was arrested and charged with causing public disorder, with John Wesley belatedly speaking out against his enthusiasm. He represents a minor strand in early Methodism which has been largely played down by its historians.

Quotations

April 1765 '[In Newcastle] 'Satan has not been idle. Two [members of the society] were following George Bell, step by step, as to the "not needing self-examination," the "not being taught by man," and most of his other unscriptural extravagancies…'

John Wesley's Journal

Sources

  • W.Stephen Gunter, The Limits of Love Divine (1989), pp.217-20
  • K.G.C.Newport in Methodist History, Jan. 1997, pp.95-105
  • Kenneth G.C. Newport and Gareth Lloyd, 'George Bell and early Methodist enthusiasm...', in Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library, 80:1 (Spring, 1998) pp.89-101
  • Gareth Lloyd, '"A cloud of perfect witnesses": John Wesley and the London disturbances, 1760-1763', in Asbury Theological Journal, 56:2, 576:1 (Fall 2001/Spring 2002) pp.117-36

Entry written by: JAV
Category: Person

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