|The Way to True Excellence: The Spirituality of Samuel Pearce is a dissertation that seeks to understand why and how the late eighteenth century pastor, Samuel Pearce (1766–1799) was a model for spirituality. Pearce was the pastor of Cannon Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, England from 1790 until death in 1799. Pearce only lived to be thirty-three years old, but he had a very successful ministry in Birmingham, was sought after as a preacher through Great Britain, and was an integral part of the Baptist missionary movement that helped bring about a sea-change in evangelicalism.
For decades after his death, John Ryland and other Baptist leaders referred to Pearce as the “seraphic Pearce.” One year after his death Andrew Fuller published Pearce’s memoirs, Memoirs of the late Rev. Samuel Pearce, and the latter became a model of eighteenth-century Baptist piety. In this thesis, three areas of his piety are examined against the backdrop of eighteenth-century evangelicalism: his preaching as a model for a spirituality of the word, his marriage and friendships as a model for a spirituality of love, and his commitment to the Great Commission as a model for a spirituality of mission. With the examination of these three areas, this thesis seeks to show to what extent Pearce’s spirituality captures the quintessence of late eighteenth-century Baptist spirituality.