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

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

Chapter 2 Charles Wesley, Preacher

It is reported that Isaac Watts, himself the author of some truly magnificent hymns, once said of Charles Wesley's 'Wrestling Jacob', that it was worth all the verses that he himself had ever penned. 1 Such high praise for Charles's poetic art is not unusual. More recent scholars have judged him to be Britain's 'greatest hymnographer', 2 and the 1780 Methodist hymn book, to which he was much the most important single contributor, 3 'a liturgical miracle'. 4 It is not surprising, given such recognition of real hymnographic genius, that it is chiefly for his poetic legacy that Charles has been remembered.

His own brother, however, reportedly spoke of Charles's poetic abilities as his 'least'. 5 This may seem extreme, and perhaps few would concur fully with such a view. It is clear, however, that it was not only in the composition of hymns and poems that Charles's literary abilities excelled. According to John, it was Charles and not he who was best able to express himself in letters: 'I am very sensible', wrote John, 'that writing letters is my brother's talent rather than mine'. 6 Similarly, Charles's journal has a lively prose style which conveys well enough, if generally rather tersely, the sense of excitement and challenge he felt as he went about his early work in America and later as an itinerant Methodist preacher.

There is ample evidence to suggest also that the craft of sermon construction, like the writing of hymns, letters, and a journal, was a form of literary activity to which Charles was able to give full and vibrant expression. Indeed, it was probably in the context of Charles's preaching abilities that John wrote to his brother 'In connexion I beat you; but in strong, pointed sentences, you beat me'. 7 This is a judgement with which one Mary Thomas seems to have agreed. In a letter to

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

Table of contents

  • The Sermons of Charles Wesley iii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Part I Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 Charles Wesley and Early Methodism 3
  • Chapter 2 Charles Wesley, Preacher 28
  • Chapter 3 Theological Characteristics and Use of Sources 48
  • Chapter 4 Charles Wesley's Sermon Corpus 71
  • Part II the Sermons 91
  • Sermon 1 Philippians 3: 13-14 93
  • Sermon 2 1 Kings 18: 21 107
  • Sermon 3 Psalm 126: 7 123
  • Sermon 4 1 John 3: 14 130
  • Sermon 5 Titus 3: 8 152
  • Sermon 6 Romans 3: 23-4 167
  • Sermon 7 Romans 3: 23-5 183
  • Sermon 8 Ephesians 5: 14 211
  • Sermon 9 Psalm 46: 8 225
  • Sermon 10 John 8: 1-11 238
  • Sermon 11 John 4: 41 259
  • Sermon 12 Luke 18: 9-14 268
  • Sermon 13 Acts 20: 7 277
  • Sermon 14 Luke 16: 10 287
  • Sermon 15 Matthew 5: 20 298
  • Sermon 16 Matthew 6: 22-3 306
  • Sermon 17 Luke 16: 8 314
  • Sermon 18 John 13: 7 325
  • Sermon 19 Exodus 20: 8 335
  • Sermon 20 Mark 12: 30 346
  • Sermon 21 Luke 10: 42 360
  • Sermon 22 Proverbs 11: 30 369
  • Sermon 23 Psalm 91: 11 380
  • Bibliography 391
  • Scriptural Index 397
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