John and Charles Wesley prose poetry and courage

Have you ever kept a diary for fun? A lot of people do. Bridget Jones’s Diary is a fun film that gets
a lot of replays. It’s a romcom from the early 2000s. But the storyline had been around for ages. It was based on a retelling of Jane Austin’s
Pride and Prejudice. And that was written in 1813. Just 22 years after John Wesley died. And he was maybe the greatest of all diary
writers. His diary – or journal as he called it – was
factual rather than fictional. But fact is often stranger than fiction. Most times actually. I don’t think a stranger story than the life
and times of John Wesley, and his brother Charles, could be invented. It is quite magnificent. Today in the movies they’d call them the dynamic
duo. It’s got a nice ring to it: John and Charles Wesley the dynamic duo. But I don’t mean to build them into sainthood. They could both be difficult personalities,
especially John. That’s how it is with all the people of God. Always a mixed bag. But never an empty one. Far from it. The Wesley brothers represent the religious
history of England. Here’s how. First, let’s look at Charles. The year is 1750. He says, after years and years of writing
a journal – time to stop. That’s dramatic to say the least. Why, why did he do it? Because he knew his calling was to write poetry,
not prose. And that poetry became the hymns. And these helped shape the initial stages
of Methodism. He wrote some 8,000 hymns altogether. And composed much great music to sing them. It was a remarkable creative output. Of course the vast majority of those hyms
haven’t made it to our day and age. But, those that have, are quite sublime. It’s sometimes claimed that Methodists sing
their theology. This is nowhere better illustrated than in
the line: My chains fell off, my heart was free I rose, went forth, and followed thee. The chains is a biblical reference, to a story
about Peter in the book of Acts. Charles makes it his own and invites us into
the same vision. Meanwhile, brother John, was expressing the
same truth in his prose. In that same year, 1750, he instructs a friend
to make a decisive break. Be over and done with Moravian theology, he
wrote. Their preaching, ‘destroys true, genuine,
simplicity’. Claim your own experience. Test it with reason. Search for its biblical roots. Fit it in a context, a Christian tradition. But make it your own. The brothers say the same thing. One does it in the language of poetry, the
other in prose. Because they were open air preachers both
faced angry mobs with that message. We simply don’t realise how often they had
to look hatred, anger and mistrust in the eye. There was no other option but to face it full
on. Take the blows, the insults. The Gospel is like that. Yet who was their strongest opponent? Their own Church, the Church of England. Who, against all the odds became a staunch
ally? The King of England. The stage is set. Join me next week. Learn how John Wesley changed history. First by creatively equipping lay preachers. Second, by famously making the world his parish. If you want to learn a lot more join Otherwise be sure to subscribe to our channel
for video updates every week. Thanks for watching. See you next time.

One thought on “John and Charles Wesley prose poetry and courage

  1. I have often thought that the saga of the Wesley Family from the youth of Samuel Sr and Susanna, tracing not only the amazing adventures of their best known sons, but the stories of Samuel Jr and the seven sisters, would make an amazing TV series and what a snapshot of life in the 18th century! The potential for sequels is fabulous – just need some wealthy US Methos backers – after all they saved the Epworth House!

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