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Charles, John, and Susanna Wesley

Review of Previous Callings

When Augustine used the ``open the Bible at random method,'' what book did he read?
What was Luther's profession before his calling?
How would Luther order these as occurring in a Christian's life: righteousness, faith, grace, eternal life, death?
Reading which book of the Bible most influenced Luther's calling?
What change in his life did Luther's calling cause?

Charles Wesley

1707 Dec~18 & born in Epworth, Lincolnshire \\ ...
... \\
1749 & married Sarah Gwynne \\
1788 Mar~29 & died in London

published more than 4500 hymns, leaving 3000 in manuscript form

Charles Wesley, the more emotional, younger brother of John Wesley, was suffering pleurisy, inflammation of the lining of the lungs, somewhere in London. Having graduated Oxford and served as a missionary in Georgia, he was not married.

Charles Wesley's journal entry for the Day of Pentecost [Tys89, pp. 98-99]

Sun., May 21st, 1738. I waked in hope and expectation of His coming. At nine my brother and some friends came, and sang an hymn to the Holy Ghost. My comfort and hope were hereby increased. In about half-an-hour they went: I betook myself to prayer; the substance as follows:--``O Jesus, thou hast said, `I will come unto you'; thou has said, `I will send the Comforter unto you'; thou hast said, `My Father and I will come unto you, and make our abode with you,' Thou art God who canst not lie; I wholly rely upon thy most true promise: accomplish it in they time and manner.'' Having said this, was composing myself to sleep, in quietness and peace, when I heard one come in (Mrs. Musgrave, I thought, by the voice) and say, ``In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thy infirmities.'' I wondered how it should enter into her head to speak in that manner. The words struck me to the heart. I sighed, and said within myself, ``O that Christ would but speak thus to me!'' I lay musing and trembling: then thought, ``but what if it should be Him? I will send at least to see.'' I rang, and, Mrs. Turner coming, I desired her to send up Mrs. Musgrave. She went down, and, returning, said, ``Mrs. Musgrave had not been up here.'' My heart sank within me at the word, and I hoped it might be Christ indeed. However, I sent her down again to inquire, and felt in the meantime a strange palpitation of heart. I said, yet feared to say, ``I believe, I believe!'' She came up again and said, ``It was I, a weak, sinful creature, spoke: but the words were Christ's: he commanded me to say them, and so constrained me that I could not forbear.''

I sent for Mr. Bray, and asked him whether I believed. He answered, I ought not to doubt of it: it was Christ spoke to me. He knew it; and willed us to pray together: ``but first,'' said he, ``I will read what I have casually opened upon: `Blessed is the man whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered: blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth no sin, and in whose spirit is no guilt.''' Still I felt a violent opposition and reluctance to believe; yet still the Spirit of God strove with my own and the evil spirit, till by degrees he chased away the darkness of my unbelief. I found myself convinced, I know not how, nor when; and immediately fell to intercession....

I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. My temper for the rest of the day was, mistrust of my own great, but before unknown, weakness. I saw that by faith I stood; by the continual support of my faith, which kept me from falling, though of my self I am ever sinking into sin. I went to bed still sensible of my own weakness, (I humbly hope to be more and more so), yet content of Christ's protection.

John Wesley

1703 Jun~17 & born in Epworth, Lincolnshire \\ ...
...38 May~2 & Aldersgate experience \\
1791 Mar~02 & died in London

Excerpts from John Wesley's journal entry for Wednesday, 1738 May 24 [Wes88, pp. 242-250]:

1. I believe, till I was about ten years old I had not sinned away that `washing of the Holy Ghost'3 which was given me in baptism, having been strictly educated and carefully taught that I could only be saved by universal obedience, by keeping all the commandments of God, in the meaning of which I was diligently instructed. And those instructions, so far as they respected, outward duties and sins, I gladly received and often thought of. But all that was said to me of inward obedience or holiness I neither understood nor remembered. So that I was indeed as ignorant of the true meaning of the law as I was of the gospel of Christ.

2. The next six or seven years were spent at school4; where, outward restraints being removed, I was much more negligent than before even of outward duties, and almost continually guilty of outward sins, which I knew to be such, though they were not scandalous in the eye of the world. However, I still read the Scriptures, and said my prayers, morning and evening. And what I now hoped to be saved by, was, (1) not being so bad as other people; (2) having still a kindness for religion; and (3) reading the Bible, going to church, and saying my prayers.

3. Being removed to the university5 for five years, I still said my prayers both in public and private, and read with the Scriptures several other books of religion, especially comments on the New Testament. Yet I had not all the while so much as a notion of inward holiness....

4. When I was about twenty-two6 my father pressed me to enter into holy orders.... I began to alter the whole form of my conversation and to set in earnest upon a new life. I set apart an hour or two a day for religious retirement. I communicated every week. I watched against all sins,7 whether in word or deed. I began to aim at and pray for inward holiness. So that now, doing so much and living so good a life, I doubted not but I was a good Christian.

5.... I cried to God for help and resolved not to prolong the time of obeying him as I had never done before. And by my continued endeavour to keep his whole law, inward and outward, to the utmost of my power, I was persuaded that I should be accepted of him, and that I was even then in a state of salvation.8

6. In 1730 I began visiting the prisons, assisting the poor and sick in town, and doing what other good I could by my presence or my little fortune to the bodies and souls of all men. To this end I abridged myself of all superfluities, and many that are called necessaries of life. I soon became `a byword'9 for so doing, and I rejoiced that `my name was cast out as evil.'10 The next spring I began observing the Wednesday and Friday fasts, commonly observed in the ancient church, tasting no food till three in the afternoon.11 And now I knew not how to go any farther. I diligently strove against all sin. I omitted no sort of self-denial which I thought lawful. I carefully used, both in public and in private, all the means of grace at all opportunities. I omitted no occasion of doing good. I for that reason suffered evil. And all this I knew to be nothing unless as it was directed toward inward holiness. Accordingly this, the image of God, was what I aimed at in all, by doing his will, not my own. Yet when, after continuing some years in this course, I apprehended myself to be near death, I could not find that all this gave me any comfort, nor any assurance of acceptance with God. At this I was then not a little surprised, not imagining I had been all this time building on the sand,12 nor considering that `other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid by God, even Christ Jesus.'13...

8. In this refined way of trusting to my own works and my own righteousness (so zealously inculcated by the mystic writers), I dragged on heavily, finding no comfort or help therein, till the time of my leaving England....

9. All the time I was at Savannah I was thus `beating the air'.14 Being ignorant of the righteousness of Christ, which by a living faith in him bringeth salvation `to every one that believeth',15 I sought to establish my own righteousness, and so laboured in the fire all my days. I was now properly `under the law'16; I knew that `the law' of God was `spiritual'17; `I consented to it that it was good.'18 Yea, `I delighted in it, after the inner man.'19 Yet was I `carnal, sold under sin'.20 Every day was I constrained to cry out, `What I do, I allow not; for what I would do not, but what I hate, that I do.'21 `To will is indeed present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.'22 For `the good which I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.'23 `I find a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me,'24 even the `law in my members warring against the law of my mind', and still `bringing me into captivity to the law of sin'.25 ...

11. In my return to England, January 1738, being in imminent danger of death, and very uneasy on that account, I was strongly convinced that the cause of that uneasiness was unbelief, and that the gaining a true, living faith, was the `one thing needful'26 for me. But still I fixed not this faith on its right object: I meant only faith in God, not faith in or through Christ. Again, I knew not that I was wholly void of this faith, but only thought I had not enough of it. So that when Peter Böhler, whom God prepared for me as soon as I came to London, affirmed of true faith in Christ (which is but one) that it had those two fruits inseparably attending it, `dominion over sin, and constant peace from a sense of forgiveness', I was quite amazed, and looked upon it as a new gospel. If this was so, it was clear I had not faith. But I was not willing to be convinced of this.... I felt it not....

12.... Nor could I therefore allow it to be the true till I found some living witnesses of it.... And accordingly the next day he came again with three others, all of whom testified of their own personal experience that a true, living faith in Christ is inseparable from a sense of pardon for all past, and freedom from all present sins. They added with one mouth that this faith was the gift, the free gift of God, and that he would surely bestow it upon every soul who earnestly and perseveringly sought it. I was now thoroughly convinced. And, by the grace of God, I resolved to seek it unto the end, (1) by absolutely renouncing all dependence, in whole or in part, upon my own works or righteousness, on which I had really grounded my hope of salvation, though I knew it not, from my youth up; (2) by adding to `the constant use of all the' other `means of grace',27 continual prayer for this very thing, justifying, saving faith, a full reliance on the blood of Christ shed for me; a trust in him as my Christ, as my sole justification, sanctification, and redemption.

13. I continued thus to seek it (though with strange indifference, dullness, and coldness, and unusually frequent relapses into sin) till Wednesday, May 24. I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words: --`There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature.'28 Just as I went out I opened it again on those words, `Thou art not far from the kingdom of the God.'29 In the afternoon I was asked to go to St. Paul's. The anthem was, `Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? But there is mercy with thee; therefore thou shalt be feared.[...] O Israel, trust in the Lord: For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins.'30

14. In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street,31 where one was reading Luther's Preface to the Epistle to the Romans.32 About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.33

15. I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me.34 I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, `This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?' Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation2; but that as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth them, according to the counsels of his own will.35

16. After my return home I was much buffeted with temptations; but cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and he `sent me help from his holy place'.36 And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.

Susanna Wesley

Susanna Wesley was the mother of John and Charles Wesley.

1669 Jan~20 & born twentieth-fifth and last chi...
...n London, buried in Dissenters' Cemetery,
Bunhill Fields, London

John Wesley's journal entry for Monday, 1739 Sep 03 as recorded in [Wes90, pp. 93-94]:

Monday, September 3. I talked largely with my mother, who told me that till a short time since she had scarce heard such a thing mentioned as the having forgiveness of sins now, or God's Spirit bearing witness with our spirit; much less did she imagine that this was the common privilege of all true believers. `Therefore' (said she) `I never durst ask for it myself. But two or three weeks ago, while my son Hall37 was pronouncing those words, in delivering the cup to me, ``The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee'',38 the words struck through my heart, and I knew God for Christ's sake had forgiven me all my sins.'

I asked whether her father (Dr. Annesley)39 had not the same faith. And whether she had not heard him preach it to others. She answered, `He had it himself, and declared, a little before his death, that for more than forty years he had no darkness, no fear, no doubt at all, of his being ``accepted in the Beloved''.'40 But that nevertheless she did not remember to have heard him preach, no not once, explicitly upon it: whence she supposed he also looked upon it as the peculiar blessing of a few, not as promised to all the people of God.


... salvation2
See Heb 2.10.
... Ghost'3
Cf. Titus 3:5.
... school4
At Charterhouse, 1714-20.
... university5
Matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, July 18, 1720; B.A. 1724.
... twenty-two6
I.e., c. 1725.
... sins,7
1740, `sin'.
... salvation.8
JW footnote: ``And I believe I was'' [added as a footnote in 1775].
... byword'9
Dt 28.37, etc.
... evil.'10
Cf. Lk 6.22.
... afternoon.11
These were the `stations', or stationary fasts, so called because they came on specific occasions every week, instead of being movable, like those observed on days differing each year according to the date of Easter. JW had been rather unsuccessful in his early efforts at fasting; this new attempt to link himself with the church universal, begun on June 2, 1732, was one of several ways in which the High Church tendencies of John Clayton began to influence the life of the Oxford friends. See Heitzenrater, John Wesley, pp. 162-63, 365-67.
... sand,12
JW footnote: ``Not so: I was right, as far as I went''[added as a footnote in 1775].
... Jesus.'13
Cf. 1 Co 3.11.
... air'.14
Cf. 1 Co 9.26.
... believeth',15
Ro 1.16.
... law'16
Ro 6.14,15.
... `spiritual'17
Cf. Ro 7.14.
... good.'18
Cf. Ro 7.16.
... man.'19
Cf. Ro 7.22.
... sin'.20
Ro 7.14.
... do.'21
Cf. Ro 7.15.
... not.'22
Cf. Ro 7.18
... do.'23
Ro 7.19.
... me,'24
Cf. Ro 7.21.
... sin'.25
Ro 7.23.
... needful'26
Cf. Lk 10.42.
... grace',27
For the source of this phrase in the Book of Common Prayer, see editorial introduction to JW's Sermon 16, `The Means of Grace'.
... nature.'28
JW footnote: 2 Pet 1.4.
... God.'29
Mk 12.34.
... sins.'30
Ps 130.1-4, 7-8 (Book of Common Prayer).
... Street,31
Moravian sources (extensively quoted in Curnock, I.475n.) suggest that this was a society which met weekly in Nettleton Court, Aldersgate Street. Among its members was James Hutton; Whitefield had ministered there in 1737; and Peter Böhler formed them into bands. The Wesley brothers were staying at different addresses nearby at the time. The reader is thought to be William Holland (died 1761) a devout Anglican who now introduced the Wesley brothers to Luther's commentaries on Galatians and Romans. He was a founding member of the Fetter Lane Society, and on its division in 1740 threw in his lot with the Moravians. He became one of their leading officers and preachers, succeeding Viney in charge of the Moravian settlement at Fulneck, Yorkshire. Holland had been induced by the Brethren to give up a substantial painting concern for their activities, but wishing to keep a closer Anglican connection than they wished, he first returned to business and then left them in 1747. Benham, Hutton, pp. 89, 153; JWJ, Nov. 28, 1747.
... Romans.32
This work, which had already been instrumental in the conversion of the elder Francke, was A Methodicall Preface prefixed before the Epistle of S. Paule to the Romanes, very necessary and profitable for the better understanding of it. Made by the right reverend father and faithfull servant of Christ Jesus, Martin Luther, now newly translated out of Latin into English by W[illiam] W[ilkinson] (London [1594]), and subsequently reprinted). Here Luther explains that `those remnants of sinne are not layde to our charge, by reason of fayth which continually wrastleth with the desires of the fleishe ... not to be under the lawe is this, that out harts are to be made newe by the spirit, through fayth, that freely, willingly, and of our owne accorde, we may doo that which the lawe requires, though there were no law at all.' (cf. J. T. McNeill, `Luther at Aldersgate', London Quarterly & Holborn Review [1939], 164:200-217). Luther's original preface, not to be confused with his commentary on Romans, is to be found in Luthers Werke (Weimer Ausgabe), Deutsche Bibel, VII.2-27 (1931).
... death.33
See Ro 8.2.
... me.34
See Mt 5.44.
... 35
See Eph 1.11.
... place'.36
Cf. Ps 20.2, 24.3, Heb 9.12.
... Hall37
Her son-in-law, the Rev. Westley Hall, who had married John Wesley's younger sister Martha and in whose household she was now resident.
... thee'',38
Cf. Book of Common Prayer, Communion.
... Annesley)39
Samuel Annesley (1620?-96), Puritan divine. In 1644 he became chaplain to the Earl of Warwick, admiral of the parliamentary fleet, and subsequently obtained preferment in the church. In 1648 he preached a first sermon before the Commons, was nominated by Cromwell to a lectureship at St. Paul's in 1657, and by Richard Cromwell to the vicarage of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, in 1658, from which he was ejected in 1662. He established a conventicle in Little St. Helen's. Susanna Wesley was his 25th and youngest child.
... Beloved''.'40
Eph 1.6.

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