This article explores the relationship between baptism and conversion in eighteenth-century Methodism through a case study based on sermons and tracts written between 1757 and 1760. Beginning with a sermon preached in 1757 in Norfolk which was deeply critical of John Wesley, the print debate that followed is explored in the wider context of Wesley's writing on baptism up to 1760. The article examines the theological issues posed in early Methodism as it sought to understand orthodox doctrine of baptism in the light of its emphasis on the new birth and conversion. It also offers an interpretation of Wesley's claim to be loyal to the Church of England while developing a network of religious societies that, arguably, observed initiatory practices of its own.

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