It is the mid-1760s, and in Dublin’s grand St. Patrick’s Cathedral the famed revivalist John Wesley is preaching with all of his might. He is aware that the congregation of St. Patrick’s is filled with the city’s more successful, comfortable, perhaps self-satisfied souls. And so he thunders against their self-centeredness, rails against their disregard for the poor. “Oh who has courage to speak plain to these rich and honorable sinners?” Wesley writes afterward in his journals.
In the congregation is a young businessman who only a few years before has begun to make his mark in the city. Born in nearby Celbridge and raised on the archbishop’s estate that his father managed, this young man has gained something of a reputation for his skill at brewing beer. In fact, he has purchased a defunct brewery at St. James’ Gate, along the River Liffey, and, having married well and embedded himself skillfully in Dublin’s merchant class, he fully intends to rise.
Now, listening to John Wesley speak of the obligations of wealth, of a God-given duty to care for the hurting of the world, this gifted young man is reminded of values he learned on that archbishop’s estate and at his father’s knee. They are values that resurfaced in the Reformation of Calvin and Luther and that were set aflame and made personal in the Methodism of John Wesley. This rising entrepreneur hears and allows Wesley’s words to frame a vision for his fledgling company: a vision for producing wealth through brewing excellence and then for using that wealth to serve the downtrodden and the poor.
We should be glad that he did, for that young man was Arthur Guinness, the founder of the renowned brewery whose 250th anniversary we celebrate this year.
Read it all.