Reading John and Charles Wesley, Preacher and Poet

I just finished John Capon’s 1988 book, John and Charles Wesley, The Preacher and the Poet. It was another of those inexpensive purchases from Amazon that has an interesting surprise. The front page inscription notes, “purchased at Wesley Chapel, London, June 1988.” This is a 158-page paperback, published by Hodder Christian Paperbacks.

The book jumps into the Wednesbury riot in its first paragraph:

As darkness fell in the Midland market-town of Walsall two rival gangs of men were at each other’s throats. The weapons ranged from pitchforks, heavy wooden clubs and bottles to bare hands and clenched fists. In the midst of this heaving, threatening throng, with victims being clubbed to the ground and beaten unmercifully, stood a man who by his dress and demeanour appeared unconnected with the riot – though he was in fact its cause.

Wesley is rescued from the riot by local judges turning away those holding Wesley and finally Wesley convincing the largest of his attackers to become his defender. Five days later, the defender George Clifton, joined a Methodist Society and remained an active lifelong follower of Wesley.

Capon goes on to share the biography of the Wesley childhood in Epworth, college years in Oxford, missionary travel to Georgia, personal awakening upon their return and tireless work  in the years that followed.

What Methodism came to believe owed a great deal to the formative theological and devotional influences in Wesley’s life. Wesley believed in loyalty to the church; the inner experience of God fed by prayer and the Scriptures; an independent mind and outlook; commitment to a disciplined, caring lifestyle; personal justifying faith in the Christ of the cross; the necessity of fellowship and evangelism. Wesley summed it up himself in two words: Scriptural holiness.

Wesley’s dictum (was) never to strike one stroke in any place where I cannot follow the blow. The instrument of follow up was the society. There was nothing particularly new in the idea of small groups of people coming together for religious purposes.The unique ingredient that made them effective was the class system.

Classes met weekly under approved leaders to exercise vigilance over the members of the class. He prepared tickets which he gave  to each of those of whose seriousness and good conversation I found no reason to doubt. Quarterly visits were made by Wesley or his preachers to check on the spiritual status and progress of those who held tickets.

Capon closes his story of the Wesley brothers relating John’s death in his house next door to Wesley Chapel on City Road in London.

The brand plucked from the burning at Epworth 82 years  before, which had set all England alight by the heat of its flame, was finally extinguished.

John and Charles Wesley

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Old Rectory offers tours for National Heritage Day

The Old Rectory in Epworth, the home of the Wesley family, will be open for free tours as part of National Heritage Day on Sept. 14

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What’s the point of the Methodists?

BBC Radio 4 host Quentin Letts asks “What’s the point of the Methodists?” A 29 minute interview featuring Leslie Griffiths, pastor of Wesley Chapel in London.

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People who influenced John Wesley

Franics Asbury – Northwest Nazarene University Wesley Center – – American Methodist leader

Peter Boehler – Moravian leader who counseled Wesley

Thomas Coke – Boston University School of Theology – – American Methodist leader

Thomas Kempis – Catholic Encyclopedia – – The Imitation of Christ – – author read by Wesley at Oxford

William Law – Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life – – author read by Wesley at Oxford

William Morgan – Northwest Nazarene University Wesley Center – – Letters from Richard Morgan to his son and from John Wesley to Richard Morgan regarding his son’s death – – member of Holy Club at Oxford

James Oglethorpe – New Georgia Encyclopedia – –  Governor of Georgia while Wesley served in the British colony

Jeremy Taylor – Holy Living – – Holy Dying – – author read by Wesley at Oxford

George Whitefield – Sermons – – member of Holy Club at Oxford

Please suggest other names to add to this list.

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Wesley glossary

As I have read a number of John Wesley biographies, I found a number of terms with which I was unfamiliar. I thought it would be helpful to start a glossary. Here is a start.


Assurance – Asbury Seminary Seedbed blog explanation –


Christian perfection – Wesley sermon –

Dissenting minister – Both Wesley grandfathers were dissenting clergy.

Grace –  UM Women – – Wesley sermon –

Great Awakening


Justification – Wesley sermon –



Ordination –  John Wesley’s decision to ordain Asbury and Coke led to the split from the Anglican Church and the move from Methodist society to Methodist Church


Prevenient grace

Salvation – Wesley sermon –



Works of Mercy

Works of Piety

Please offer your comments on these terms, or others that should be added.


UM Communications remembers camp meeting days in NJ

United Methodist Communications remembers the old days of the camp meetings remembering Ocean Grove, New Jersery.

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John Wesley opposed slavery

Rev. David Weeks, chaplain of the New Room in Bristol, UK, remembers John Wesley’s opposition to slavery.

When Wesley lived at the British colony in Savannah, Georgia, he was introduced to the early years of the slave trade in the colonies. Years later, he wrote in opposition to slavery.

Thoughts upon Slavery, John Wesley

Wesley’s opposition to slavery continued til his last days when he wrote to William Wilberforce to support his stand in Pariliament


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Methodist Church in Oxford, UK repairing stained glass

Wesley Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford continues work on its stained glass windows.

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Outler on Wesley’s Christian Perfection

Craig Adams in his Commonplace Holiness blog quotes Albert Outler on Wesley’s idea of perfection.

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New Room celebrates Charles Wesley’s preaching

The New Room in Bristol, UK will hold a special event August 31 to mark the 275th anniversary of Charles Wesley’s first field preaching. As New Room Chaplain David Weeks explains in this video, early Methodist leaders were often excluded from preaching in Anglican Churches. They followed George Whitefield’s example and joined in preaching to large groups in the open air, or field preaching.

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