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Rouse, Nathan
1810 or 1811- post-1881; e.m. 1834

Born at Birstall, he entered the Wesleyan ministry in 1834 and served in a number of circuits, ending with Burslem in 1860. He was married twice and was described as a literary man and an excellent preacher. He came to believe in the doctrine of ‘hereditary holiness’, by which he understood that in the case of children both of whose parents were ‘entirely sanctified’ the ‘entail of original sin was broken’. Although he claimed that this was derived from Wesley’s teaching on Christian Perfection , his book The Humanity of Christ viewed in relation to Theological Sentiment and Religious Life was answered by J.W. Thomas in Letters to the Rev. N. Rouse on his theory of hereditary holiness (1862). The Conference of that year condemned his views as heretical and he left the ministry (although still described as a ‘Wesleyan minister in the 1881 census). In 1865 he published Principles of Biblical Interpretation.


‘[At the Conference of 1862] ... the committee on Rouse brought in their report, recommending his expulsion. The committee being made up of all the big-wigs, I was astounded at the folly of the proposal, and moved an amendment that he have another year allowed for reflection. I commenced by expressing my intense condemnation of the folly and fanaticism of the book, and my gratitude for the purity, unity and positiveness of our doctrines, and the duty of guarding it with sacred sensitiveness... I knew that they were chuckled over in rationalistic coteries, that an eminent rationalist had taunted me with the fact that a Methodist preacher had reduced to the absurd the Doctrine of Original Sin. But I asked, to what do we owe the purity and unity of our doctrine? Certainly not harsh and hasty legislation. I dwelt on the case of Adam Clarke. I showed that his delinquency was immeasurably greater than Rouse’s; that though R. had indulged in risky speculation, which impinged on the Doctrine of Original Sin, yet he professed to believe it, none the less. I said it was plain from R.’s preface that he had set out with the resolution of either being a great doctrinal discoverer or a martyr. I asked what was the severest, safest, and most suitable punishment? To disappoint him. I showed that his book did not entitle him to be the proto-martyr of Rationalism in the History of Methodism. If this were a monomania, to irritate and oppose him was not the way to cure it... I spoke at length. The Conference took my view of the case. Vasey seconded my motion. Even the committee recoiled from their own proposal. Arthur and Waddy professed their complete conversion to my view. When Rouse (who I was convinced wished to be a martyr) found that the lenient view was about to be taken, and he should lose the éclat of martyrdom, he resigned, which took us out of the mess.’

Benjamin Gregory, Autobiographical Recollections (1903) pp.417-8

Category: Person


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