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

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

Sermon 19 Exodus 20: 8

Introductory Comment

On the front cover of the MS there is written in what appears to be the hand of 'W.P.' a note indicating that Charles preached this sermon in Islington, on 24 September 1738. This information is not provided anywhere on the MS by Charles, nor is it apparent from the journal that he preached this precise sermon in Islington on that date. However, Charles does record that he was in Islington and that he preached there 'with great boldness'. 1 It appears, then, that the information given anonymously on the front cover may well be correct; if so it raises the interesting question of where it came from originally. There are no further references to Charles preaching this sermon in the journal.

This is a sermon that Charles copied from John. The reasons for including it in this volume of Charles's sermons have already been outlined in Chapter 4 . The MS is located at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. 2 It comprises eighteen stitch-bound leaves, written almost exclusively recto only. The exception is leaf 17 on the verso of which there appears, in shorthand, a list of places and dates that John preached the sermon. These range from Epworth in July 1730 to St Ebbe's [Oxford] in September 1733. Outler notes that these dates and places can be confirmed (and further refined) from John's diary. 3

The sermon was published as sermon X in the 1816 edition, 4 where it appears with the note on the MS transcribed as 'Preached at Islington Church, London; 1738'. 5 As is usual, there are significant differences between the form in the 1816 edtion and the MS itself, and the reason for those differences deserves investigation, though such is not of concern here. It was also published by Outler in his edition of John's sermons. 6 The few relatively minor errors in Outler's transcriptions have been corrected and the more significant and/or debateable of these have been indicated.

As Outler has noted, 7 the sermon draws for part of its argument on Peter Heylyn's The History of the Sabbath. 8 Outler's sketch of the debates that surrounded the issue of Sabbath observance during the eighteenth century are well worth consideration here. Charles puts forward the view that the Sabbath 9 is to be observed as a special day for the

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