Picture of Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley

places mentioned

Selections from editor's introduction

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[These selection's from the editor's introduction relate more closely to the Diary which follows than do the remainder, much of which concerns other people, or theology.]:

RELIGIOUS projects and actions not unfrequently produce results which their authors never contemplated. When the two Wesleys at Oxford became impressed with the supreme importance of Christian piety, as the great end of their being, and regarded it as an absolute conformity to the will of God, they adopted the purest rules of conduct; keeping a constant watch over their minds and hearts, and subjecting themselves at stated periods to the most searching scrutiny; that they might ascertain whether or not they had fulfilled their sacred vows, or had trifled with their engagements and responsibilities. That they might be the better able to discharge the duty of self-examination, each of them commenced the practice of keeping a journal, in which they carefully recorded the events of every day, with their spiritual conflicts, victories, and failures; for the purpose of calling forth increased gratitude, humility, or emotion, as the case might be. Of course these personal and moral histories were, in the first instance, never intended to meet the public eye, but merely to promote the religious benefit of the writers; for, when these simpleminded, but gifted, men began this practice, they intended to spend their lives in comparative retirement and seclusion, not having the most distant thought of the notoriety which was afterwards forced upon them.

In these matters, however, they were overruled, being providentially called from the cloisters of Oxford to preach salvation by faith in the highways and hedges; in consequence of which the world was filled with the report of their names and doings; and their journals, which were designed to be nothing more than a record of their feelings and course of action, the details of which no second person should ever peruse, are, in fact, the most circumstantial and authentic history of a deep and widely-extended revival of religion, such as the world has scarcely witnessed since the apostolic times. Hence it is that these documents, so private and unpretending in their origin, possess a profound interest, which they will possess as long as the English language is understood, and Christianity in its blessedness, activity, and power is duly appreciated.

After the brothers had entered upon their singular career of ministerial labour, so as to be in some quarters highly commended, and in others severely censured,—while multitudes wondered why it was that gentlemen and scholars violated all the rules of ecclesiastical etiquette, and voluntarily endured incredible toils and hardships,—Mr. John Wesley deemed it requisite to publish from time to time large extracts from his private journal, as furnishing, in his estimation, the best explanation and apology that he was able to offer. This practice he continued till the end of his life: and, notwithstanding all that has been subsequently written, it must be confessed that these artless narratives constitute the best history of the origin and progress of Methodism, and its most powerful defence.

For many years Mr. Charles Wesley followed his brother, as an itinerant and field Preacher, with equal steps; but he would never commit his journal to the press. He appears to have written it, from day to day, upon loose sheets of paper, and to have transmitted large portions of it to his wife and friends in the form of letters, some of which have been preserved. Much of it, there is reason to believe, he himself destroyed; and it is probable that much more of it has long since perished, through the carelessness of the persons to whom it was transmitted. That which is now published, and which is all that is known to exist, was transcribed, with great neatness and accuracy, by the venerable author himself, carefully paged, and was bound in a thick octavo volume. This precious relic he bequeathed to his widow, with a request that she would retain it in her own exclusive possession. About three or four years after his death, it was, however, placed in the hands of Dr. Whitehead, who published large extracts from it in the Life of the author, which was prefixed to the Life of the Rev. John Wesley. Extracts from this manuscript, still more copious, were inserted in the "Life of the Rev. Charles Wesley," in two octavo volumes, which appeared in the year 1841; but the entire document is now for the first time presented to the public. It was purchased some years ago of the writer's heir, the late Charles Wesley, Esq., of musical celebrity; having, however, undergone some mutilations, the occasion of which it would perhaps be impossible to ascertain. A little while before it was purchased, it was in great danger of being irrecoverably lost. It was found among some loose straw on the floor of a public warehouse in London, where the furniture of the owner was for a time deposited; several leaves in the volume being cut from the binding, and yet not removed. The intelligent and pious reader, it is presumed, after perusing and weighing its valuable contents, will be thankful that its publication effectually prevents the recurrence of a similar casualty, and will preserve it from oblivion. It is sent forth into the world, not to gratify an idle curiosity, but as an instructive record of a work of God; presenting, in a manner which every one may understand, the omnipotence of divine grace and truth.

FEW brief observations concerning the contents of the ensuing volumes must suffice, considering the unexpected length to which this introduction has been extended.

The Journal of Mr. Charles Wesley, which is placed the first in order, contains an artless but spirited account of his labours and sufferings in Georgia, accompanied by many interesting notices respecting the colony; his return to England, as the bearer of dispatches from the Governor, with a description of some singular characters that came under his observation during the voyage; the manner in which he was led to a practical reception of the doctrine of present salvation from sin by faith in the Lord Jesus. From this time, it will be found that his character was entirely changed. He was no longer the anxious, perplexed, and disappointed inquirer after peace and holiness; wishing to die, because, while he earnestly sought these blessings, he found them not; supposing that a joyous certainty of acceptance with God, and of conformity to His will, is unattainable in this life. Instead of singing, in a tone of pensiveness and despair, as he had formerly done, "Doubtful and insecure of bliss, Since Death alone confirms me His,"

He now possessed the inward and abiding witness of his personal adoption, and exclaimed, with holy thankfulness,

No condemnation now I dread, Jesus, and all in Him, is mine ! Alive in Him, my living Head, And clothed in righteousness divine, Bold I approach the' eternal throne, And claim the crown through Christ my own.

Instead of being "carnal, and sold under sin," he felt that, "to be spiritually minded is life and peace." This great salvation from the guilt, the misery, and the power of sin, the faith by which it is obtained, the penitence by which it is preceded, and the practical holiness which is invariably consequent upon it, formed the chief subjects of his effective ministry, which ended only with his life.

His laborious zeal and his success, as an Itinerant Evangelist, which may be gathered from the subsequent parts of his Journal, have seldom been equalled, and perhaps in no instance surpassed, at least since the apostolic times. They place him on a level with his honoured brother, and their common friend Mr. Whitefield. In London, Bristol, Bath, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Wales,—among the miners of Cornwall, Kingswood, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, and the north,— among the Romanists of Dublin, and of the south and west of Ireland,— his labours were abundant, his persecutions and privations severe, and his success was most encouraging. Many of the Wesleyan societies in those places were formed by him at the hazard of his life; and his Journal, with that of his brother, will supply ample materials for a history of Methodism, which is greatly needed, and which it is hoped some person of competent abilltles and leisure will at no distant period undertake.

There is one subject of painful interest in the Journal, upon which it is requisite to offer a remark,—the separation of the two Wesleys from the Moravian Brethren, to whom they were both indebted, under God, for correct views concerning the nature and method of salvation, and therefore for their religious enjoyments. It cannot be denied that some persons of leading influence among the Moravians, then in England, held and propagated grievous errors respecting the ordinances of religion, by means of which not a few persons lost the fervent piety by which they had been distinguished. The abettors of these errors the Wesleys felt it their duty, in all faithfulness, to withstand, and to warn their children in the Lord against them. On this subject the testimonies of the brothers are in perfect agreement. It is, however, due to the Moravian body to state, that the men who propagated these errors departed from the recognised creed of the Church to which they belonged; so that the Church should not be held responsible for their peculiar tenets; except in this, that the offending parties were silently tolerated, and not subjected to the rebuke and correction which they merited, and which every church is bound to administer in cases of this kind. The doctrine of the Moravian Church, in respect of Christian ordinances, as it is expounded by Spangenberg and La Trobe, does not appear at all to differ from the doctrine of other Protestant communities; so that the "stillness" which Molther and some of his associates inculcated, and which consisted in abstinence from prayer, from reading the Scriptures, and from attending the public preaching of the Gospel, was not less opposed to the tenets of their own Church, than it was to the judgment of the Wesleys. The evils which resulted from it were great; so that strong and decisive measures in opposition to it were indispensable.

The Editor of these volumes cherishes a feeling of lively satisfaction in sending them forth into the world, persuaded as he is of their tendency to promote true spiritual religion; "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." They exhibit the power of evangelical truth, and the signs which follow, when it is preached by men of faith and prayer. Why should not conversions be as numerous in the congregations of the present age, as they were in the days of the Wesleys Gospel truth is the same; the mercy and power of Christ have suffered no diminution; the grace of the Holy Spirit is as omnipotent as it ever was; the ordinances of day and night shall cease sooner than the word of the living God shall fail; the gracious covenant of God still remains in force, so that fervent and believing prayer is as prevalent as it was even in the apostolic times. 0 for a return of those days when in every religious assembly the power of the Lord was signally present, to wound the consciences of the impenitent, to heal the broken in heart, to comfort and sanctify those who had through grace believed! Let all who are interested in the cause of Christianity remember, that the irrevocable word which secures the future enlargement of the church has passed the lips of Him who cannot lie. Faith, mighty faith the promise sees, And looks to that alone, Laughs at impossibilities, And cries IT SHALL BE DONE! "

RICHMOND, March 7th, 1849.

Charles Wesley, The Journal of the Rev. Charles Wesley (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1849)

Text scanning by Ryan Danker. Proofreading by Aaron Bynum. MS Word conversion, and other modifications by Ryan Danker.

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Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall, Copyright 2006 GBHGIS.

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