Charles Wesley has not generally been recognized as a theologian in his own right. Studies in this area can be found, but even when they are taken fully into account, the fact remains that his theological views have been the subject of only a small fraction of the detailed discussion that has been conducted concerning those of his brother John. 1 It is perhaps telling that a substantial number of the studies of Charles's theology that do exist are in the form of unpublished Ph.D. theses.
This situation is unfortunate from both a theological and an historical point of view, for as is seen in the sermons published here no less than in the hymns and poems, Charles was a theologian of not insignificant ability, and his attempts to explain both the plight of the human condition and what he perceived to be the divine answer to it deserve careful attention. His imaginative handling of the biblical text also repays examination. Both the systematic theologian and the biblical interpreter, 2 then, will find much in Charles's writings of value.
Charles is also of significance in the context of the history of theology, from both the Anglican and Methodist perspective, for his work is in part an attempt to bring together the biblical text and what he considered to be the authoritative traditions of the church. He was very much a man of the Bible. His sermons, no less than his hymns, are soaked in biblical allusions and imagery, so much so that it is often difficult to see where the biblical paraphrase ends and Charles's comment begins. It is clear from these same texts, however, that he also drew on ecclesiastical tradition.