This is another sermon that Charles copied from his brother John. It is found, together with Sermons 20, 21, and 23, on Mark 12: 20, Luke 10: 42 and Psalm 91: 11, in a hard-bound volume now held at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. 1 The transcriptions were made on board the London Galley in September 1736 as Charles was beginning his journey back to England. 2
The sermon register on page 34 of the booklet is again useful here. Charles has listed a number of dates and places relevant to John's preaching of this sermon (and Outler has given a good insight into the place of this text in John's work). However, in addition Charles has also recorded that he preached the sermon at St John's on 23 October 1737, though this cannot be confirmed from the extant journal material, which makes no reference anywhere to Charles preaching on either 'The wisdom of winning souls' or Proverbs 11. Neither do other sources provide any further insight into the frequency with which Charles preached this text.
This was, then, a sermon which Charles preached, at least once, and it was in that sense 'his'. The form of the MS offers no suggestion regarding the nature and extent of any editorial emendation that he may have introduced into his brother's text. It is worth noting, however, that he appears to have left intact the initial words as they were used quite appropriately by John on the occasion of his first preaching of the sermon in Oxford: 'a place where philosophy or the love of wisdom is so universally professed and so carefully cultivated . . . ' Charles must presumably have departed extempore from this opening when he preached at St John's.
It was published as sermon I in the 1816 edition, and shows signs of the editorial hand. 3 It was also published by Outler in his edition of John's sermons. 4 The few inaccuracies in the Outler edition have been corrected and the most significant are indicated in the notes.
The sermon was particularly well suited to the original audience for whom John wrote it, those who had gathered at an ordination service in Christ Church. 5 However, it obviously appealed to Charles since he took the trouble to copy it out. Just why it did so is not easy to gauge. It may well have been its uncompromising affirmation of the importance of the task of evangelism. This involves both convicting the sinner of the need of being cleansed and also the guidance of that same person in the subsequent pursuit of holy living.
As Outler notes, 6 one of the more challenging aspects of this sermon, when seen in the context of the eighteenth century, is its openness to non-ordained ministerial activity.