Monday 20 April 2015

Charles Wesley
I conducted a service in remembrance of Charles Wesley, in which we sang thirteen of his favourite hymns, including prayers and a bible reading. It was a most satisfying and interesting experience.

Most people consider John Wesley to be the founder of the Methodist Church whereas in fact it was Charles. He was the founder of the Holy Club in Oxford from which the term Methodists was created. John later joined and indeed proved a great influence, and together with his brother brought many people to faith, he by his preaching and Charles through the lovely words and the theology of his hymns.

Charles himself was a talented preacher and two of the themes he preached strongly on were salvation through Christ alone, and the doctrine of heaven and hell.

I fear if Charles is aware of the some of the beliefs and preaching in the Church generally today, he will be very disturbed.

Charles was an Anglican priest who changed to become a Methodist. However he never wished to separate from the Church of England and on his deathbed sent for the local Vicar and asked to be buried in the local Anglican Church graveyard, saying, ‘Sir whatever the world may say of me, I lived and died a member of the Church of England. Please bury me in your Churchyard’.

Some of his hymns portray a distinct High Church doctrine, and he differed from John in that he saw the importance of an ordained ministry. In fact, he expressed strong views on the use of lay preachers, which makes one wonder how he would have dealt with the situation today where there are almost as many lay preachers as ordained.

Charles was one who wrote as he thought and he saw the importance of conversion and a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. He became vividly convinced of the message of salvation, and saw clearer than ever before how faith in Jesus Christ could change a person’s life. This was the message he would take to as many people as he could, particularly to the poorer classes. He preached that the value of a person’s life was to be measured by their faith.

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