The Sermons of Charles Wesley: A Critical Edition, with Introduction and Notes

By Charles Wesley; Kenneth G. C. Newport | Go to book overview

Sermon 18 John 13: 7

Introductory Comment

In a shorthand note at the conclusion of this sermon, Charles has indicated that he transcribed the text from his brother's copy on 7 May 1736 in Frederica. This is useful in that it gives some indication of the date of Charles's interest in the subject matter. However, there is no indication on the MS itself regarding where or when Charles preached from this text. To date no further information has come to light from the journal or letters. The fact that he chose to copy this sermon, when others were presumably available to him, should not be ignored; it indicates that the subject matter was to his liking.

The transcription is a very clean one. There are few corrections other than of obvious slips (for example 'which' is corrected to 'why' at one point). The only disruption in paragraph numbering comes under head 3. Point 2 under this head is divided by Charles into '2a' and '2b', which may suggest some interpolation into the text. This is discussed further in the note to the text itself.

The MS is located at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. 1 It comprises seventeen 2 leaves made from eight stitch-bound folded sheets plus a front cover which has now become detached from the booklet. This front cover may also have been originally formed from a folded sheet; if so the back cover with which it would have been joined has now been lost. Leaves 2-16 are written recto only. Leaf 17, however, has a brief shorthand note written verso. This relates to John's preaching of the sermon.

It was published as sermon VI in the 1816 edition. 3 The form that it takes in that edition, however, is as usual rather different from the MS itself. For example, following a statement regarding the absolute inability of humankind to understand how it is that the Holy Spirit is prepared to intervene in the life of one person in response to the prayers of another, the editor has added several examples from the Old Testament showing that the Holy Spirit does act in this way—examples which are not found in the MS.

Outler printed this text in his edition of John Wesley's sermons 4 and provides good information regarding the place of this sermon in the life and thought of John Wesley. He comments that the sermon was first preached by John at All Saints in Oxford on 1 November 1730. However, Charles has recorded on the recto of leaf 17 (in shorthand) that the sermon was also preached, doubtless by John rather than himself, at Epworth and Stanton in that year, and these two entries are written above the entry for All Saints. There is also a note indicating that it was preached in Manchester in '5', presumably 1735. These and the few other relatively minor transcription errors in Outler have been corrected here.

-325-

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