John Wesley



The messenger to this age was without doubt John Wesley. John Wesley was born at Epworth, June 17, 1703 and was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley. His father was a chaplain in the Church of England; but it is more than likely that the religious turn of John's mind was based more upon his mother's exemplary life than upon his father's theology. John was a brilliant scholar. It was while he was at Orford that he and Charles became part of a group who were spiritually exercised to worship on the basis of experientially living the truth rather than making doctrine their standard. They drew up a spiritual guide of works, such as giving to the poor, visiting the sick and the imprisoned. For this they were called Methodists, and other derisive titles. Now John was sufficiently imbued by his vision of the need of religion for the peoples of the world that he went to America (Georgia) as a missionary amongst the Indians. On his way there he found that many of the ship's passengers were Moravians. He was deeply impressed by their meekness, peace, and courage in all circumstances. His labors in Georgia in spite of self denials and hard work was a failure. He returned to England crying, "I went to America to convert the Indians but oh! who shall convert me?" 

Back in London he again met the Moravians. It was Peter Boehler who showed him the way of salvation. He was truly born again much to the dismay and evident anger of his brother, Charles, who could not understand how such a spiritual man as John should say he was not formerly right with God. It was, however, not long after that Charles, too, was saved by grace.

Wesley now began to preach the Gospel in those pulpits in London to which he formerly had access; but soon they turned him out. It was at this time that his old friend, George Whitefield, stood him in good stead for he invited John to come and help him preach in the fields where thousands were listening to the Word. Wesley at first was incredulous that he should preach in the open instead of a building, but when he saw the throngs and saw the working of the Gospel in the power of the Spirit he turned wholeheartedly to such preaching.

The work soon took on such proportions that he began sending out numerous laymen to preach the Word. This seemed like a parallel to Pentecost where the Spirit raised up men with power to preach and teach the Word almost overnight.

There was violent opposition to his work but God was with him. The workings of the Spirit were mightily manifested and often such a spirit of conviction took hold of the people as to take away their strength and they would fall to the ground crying in great distress over their sins.

Wesley was a remarkably strong man. He says of himself that he could not remember to have felt lowness of spirits for even a quarter hour since he was born. He slept no more than six hours a day; arose in time to start preaching at five practically every day of his ministry; preached up to four times on a single day so that in a year he would average over 800 sermons.

He traveled multiple thousands of miles as did his circuit riders who carried the Gospel near and far. In fact Wesley traveled 4500 miles per year by horse.

He was a believer in the power of God and he prayed for the sick with great faith and wonderful results.

Many of his meetings saw the manifestation of Spiritual gifts.

Wesley was not in favor of organization. His associates did have a "United Society" who were, "a company of men having the form, and seeking the power of godliness, united in order to pray together, to receive the Word of exhortation, and to watch over one another in love, that they may help each other to work out their salvation." The only condition of those entering was they should be of those, "who had a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and to be saved from their sins." As time went on they worked out a strict set of rules to be used in self discipline for the good of their souls. Wesley recognized that after his death the movement could be organized and the Spirit of God leave them to dead form. He once remarked that he did not fear that the name of Methodist would leave the earth but that the Spirit might take His flight.

During his lifetime he could have acquired vast wealth; but he did not. His favorite saying on the subject of money was, "Get all you can, save all you can, and give all you can." How strange it would be for Wesley to come back and see the denomination that bears the name of Methodist today. They are rich--vastly rich. But the life and power of John Wesley is missing.

It should also be mentioned that Wesley never did desire to build a work upon a denominational or sectarian basis. Though he was an Arminian in his beliefs, he did not want to separate himself from brethren on the grounds of doctrine. He was a good candidate for James: He based his eternal life on faith and works, or the living of the life, rather than simply accepting a creed or a doctrinal statement.

John Wesley died at the age of 88 having served God as few men would dare to even think they might.

The Age of Philadelphia