How did the early Evangelicals pass on their beliefs to their children? This book is a study of a strangely neglected part of Evangelical history. But it is not merely, nor even especially, a historian's book - it is of general interest, absorbingly so.
The reader is plunged into the child's world of the late eighteenth century, a world both surprisingly familiar and terrifyingly unknown. Their home life is examined, their schools and Sunday Schools, the sermons preached for them, the books and tracts and magazines they read, the diaries they wrote. Much of the atmosphere is death-haunted and repellent, entirely foreign to educational thought today. And yet ... the final proof of the efficacy of any system must be its fruits. Actual case-histories are considered, and conclusions attempted.
The power of Evangelicalism must have vanished from the earth in a generation, had
the fathers not nurtured the children, believing devoutly in their own educational abilities. Yet their many detractors have called them bigots, fanatics, fools and madmen. How fair is this judgment? And for today, how much of those first beliefs do we retain? What is our debt to those Evangelical fathers?
A fascinating piece of social history is unfolded - often grim, even macabre, sometimes pathetic, occasionally gay but never, never dull.