In the three previous chapters attention has been given to the style, extent, and theological content of Charles Wesley's preaching. It has been argued that he was an able preacher who did much to further the early Methodist cause and had an impact not only on the form, but also on the content of early Methodism. Most of the remainder of this book is taken up with a presentation of all of the relevant texts. However, before they can be presented, it is necessary to outline the reasons for their selection. This is particularly important in the context of the ongoing debate regarding which texts are in fact illustrative of Charles's own preaching style. Not all will agree, for example, with the decision made here to include in a volume of Charles's sermons material found in the 1816 edition. In the present chapter the case is argued that all of the sermons in that edition, with the exception of one, sermon XIII, which is clearly labelled as John's, do illustrate Charles's own preaching style, and are 'his', at least to the extent that he has edited them from his brother's MSS (although in three cases it seems probable that the sermons are in fact straightforwardly Charles's own compositions). All other possible MSS and early printed sermons are also examined in an attempt to draw up a definitive list of surviving texts. The result is that twenty-three sermons are identified as being Charles's; most were written by him, though some are the result of his copying and editing his brother's MSS (or in one case, it seems, someone else's). Details of the MS and recension history of those twenty-three now follow. They are grouped into sections for clarity of discussion—sermons published in Charles's lifetime (two); shorthand sermons (six); sermons printed in the 1816 edition (twelve, all but one of which exist in MS form also); and three sermons requiring individual comment.
Two sermons were published during Charles's lifetime, both of which eventually found their way into editions of John Wesley's works. No controversy surrounds their authorship since early editions of both carry the name of Charles as the author. The MS for neither has survived.
The first of Charles's sermons to be published was that on Ephesians 5: 14, Sermon 8 in this volume, delivered before the University of Oxford on 4 April