2. Loxley Court
Loxley Court is named after Benjamin Loxley, a carpenter who helped build Independence Hall among other places. He lived at #2 Loxley Court, the key for which was used by Ben Franklin in his famous kite flying experiment. The kite and the key have absolutely nothing to do with Methodism though, so let’s move on!
No. 8 Loxley Court is a house number that is no longer in this courtyard, but local historians believe it was the house tucked in the corner furthest to the northeast facing south. This was the second place where Methodists met before they began gathering at St. George’s. (Their first meeting place was on Dock Street to the East.) Number 8 Loxley Court was a tavern or “pot house” that the Methodists took over in 1768. They held prayer meetings on the first floor. Sometimes a preaching service would be held with the preacher in the second story window addressing people gathered in the courtyard and somewhat shielded from the noise of horses, wagons, and people jostling along the cobblestone streets. They didn’t meet here very long because they were growing too fast. In 1769 the Methodists were able to purchase the building which is now St. George’s. Many Methodists also continued to attend local Anglican churches – especially St. Paul’s which was born out of the fervor of revivalism itself in 1761. (We’ll be walking by St. Paul’s later in our tour.)
The home-like atmosphere of Loxley Court is an especially good setting for us to think about what made Methodists tick. The Methodist movement was personal – even intimate – in its expectations that members of a society (what today we might call congregations) hold one another accountable in their pursuit of holy living. One of the things early “class meetings” – small groups of people – would read together was John Wesley’s General Rules which set forth expectations for being a Methodist. The General Rules were crafted by Methodism’s founder John Wesley and are still found in the United Methodist Book of Discipline. With many details for upright Christian behavior left out here’s what it says:
There is only one condition previously required of those who desire admission into these societies: “a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins.” But wherever this is really fixed in the soul it will be shown by its fruits. It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced…[a list follows] Second: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men….[a list follows] Thirdly: By attending upon all the ordinances of God…[a list follows]. And all these we know [God’s] spirit writes on truly awakened hearts. If there be any among us who observe them not, who habitually break any of them, let it be known unto them who watch over that soul as they who must give an account.
People were drawn to this stress on holy living, an emphasis in serious Christian discipleship they sometimes found lacking in other churches.