Profiles In The Faith: Charles Wesley
The words of Charles Wesley adorn the pages of almost every hymnal published. Writing an average of ten lines a day, his songs would transform the content of worship in our churches. Wesley was not only a hymn writer, he was a preacher. Charles, his brother John, and George Whitfield gave their lives in the 18th century to preaching the gospel across England and the United States.
Wesley was a well educated scholar at the biblical languages. He, like John, studied at Oxford where he was a part of the Holy Club, a group of men devout in their devotional life and well studied in the Scriptures. The ‘methodology’ of their faith was duly noted, and the group took on the name “Methodist,” and would later be expounded upon by both John and Charles.
In 1735, the two brothers would venture to Savannah, GA, on a missionary journey to a prison colony. Their efforts were not well received and caused both men to return to England to examine their own faith. In 1738, Charles fell ill, which resulted in him becoming unsure of his own salvation. After that, he began to read the words of Martin Luther regarding the book of Galatians. During his study, he would be converted, and would pen the words to a hymn that evening to celebrate his great conversion. This is something he would do often in hopes to never forget the work of God in his life.
Wesley would also write his thoughts and sermons in a poetic form to help others remember their words. He would oftentimes accompany Whitfield or his brother in open-air preaching, where he would sing the words of his hymns while the other two men would preach in a traditional form. Wesley’s words were bound and published so the world could join in his poetic sermons. Today, hardly a week goes by that the words of Wesley’s sermons are not sung in our churches.
There are very few movements throughout modern history that the church can place a finger on and record their beginning and ending. However, the start of the Great Awakening both in Europe and America were wrapped around the work of God in the life of Charles and John Wesley (and a few others including Whitfield). The two brothers who were both preachers, both called of God, and both gifted in different ways, gave their lives to see the nation of England stirred by the glory of God. As they preached and prayed for revival, God wanted to do something bigger- He was preparing to revive the hearts of men and women across Europe and America.