Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

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

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

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

Article excerpt

KENNETH G. C. NEWPORT. The Sermons of Charles Wesley: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Pp. xi + 407, bibliography, indices. $120.00.

All too readily we categorize Charles Wesley as the preeminent hymn writer and his brother John as the exemplary preacher. In fact, Charles was a very effective preacher and was, in the opinion of contemporaries at least, better than his brother John in technique and style. Unfortunately, most of his sermons do not survive, as they never existed in written form since he regularly preached without preparation, either mental or written, the implication being that he knew his Bible well and could readily preach from it extempore. Indeed, Wesley was not interested in publishing sermons for their own sake since his primary activity was as an evangelistic preacher interested in obtaining conversions.

Prior to 1738 he did use some form of written texts in his sermons and it is from this period that the surviving texts date. Newport presents, for the first time in chronological order, a complete collection of the sermons of Charles Wesley in the form of twenty-three relevant texts (seven sermons based on Old Testament passages, sixteen on the New Testament), thirteen of which are indisputably by Charles and the rest copied from his brother, John, or others (either through copying or editing).

In presenting these texts the editor has performed an inestimable service, as about half the sermons have been reconstructed from Charles' shorthand and appear here in transcribed form for the first time. Some might quibble that over half the sermons included are taken from the 1816 edition of the sermons of John Wesley. …

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