It was not unusual for the working class of the 19th Century to have very little to no contact with the Church. However to Emanuel Lovekin, religion became a huge part of his life as he grew up. He spent a lot of his spare time, when he was not working, involved with his local Sunday school where he graduated ‘from student to teacher’ and then began to pass on ‘his rather limited skills to the next generation of young men and women who walked through the doors of the Methodist Sunday school each week’. (Griffin, pg.168) Emanuel became so involved with his faith that he wanted to pass down his own knowledge and faith to others who may be, perhaps, in the same position as he had been in through work and through life. Thus the Church and his faith became a significant part of his life.
Emanuel disclosed some personal events in his life such as ‘one time I had my thigh broken, another time I had a narrow escape of being lost into the pit, it took them some time to release me, by going down another shaft and making a way to me I was alone’. He became very thankful towards God for all he experienced in his life, including the bad events, as he felt that they were lessons that God had forced upon him to test him. He says ‘But I know God through Christ can and has forgiven me’ for all the sins he committed which he did not want to discuss as he wanted to move on from that part of his past. Another quote that I found interesting was when he said ‘I have lost a deal in my time in trusting to the honesty of others’ however ‘God had been my helper in days’ and was therefore his ‘only trust.’ Therefore it becomes evident how significant religion was to Emanuel as we can understand that through tough times, he turned to his faith for comfort.
Emanuel discusses his active role in his local Sunday school and as a Primitive Methodist a lot throughout his autobiography. However it is not until the end of his autobiography that he starts to become thankful for his faith. This may be because he was reflecting a lot on his past and, therefore, became grateful for everything that he had gone through. He becomes very thankful to God for his health and for his life that he was blessed with. He says ‘But I am glad and pleased god keep me so I can read things and please him for what I am’. He furthers this by saying ‘we will trust him for the future, we are in good hands.’ Emanuel acts proud and appreciative that God had set him out to work hard for the life that was given to him. He states that through his hard work, he will be rewarded in the after life which may have been a significant reason for why religion held an important role to Emanuel.
Griffin, Emma. Liberty’s Dawn. Hampshire: Yale University Press, 2014. Print.
Lovekin, Emanuel. ‘Some notes of my life’, MS, pp.32 (c.7,000 words). Extract in J. Burnett (ed.), Useful Toil. Autobiographies of working people from the 1820s to the 1920s (Allen Lane, London, 1974), pp.290-6.