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Charles Wesley


(published in TOUCHSTONE September 2004)         


CHARLES WESLEY     1707-1788


Part I: The Life of Charles Wesley

The output of Charles Wesley is prodigious: 9000 poems; 27,000 stanzas; 180,000 lines. Charles wrote three times as much as William Wordsworth, one of England ‘s most prolific poets. While Charles didn’t write poetry every day, his output averages out to ten lines of poetry every day for fifty years.

Was he sane? In Henry Rack’s recent biography of John Wesley, Charles is described as “seeming[ly] almost a manic-depressive personality.”[1] Had Charles suffered from bi-polar affective disorder (i.e., alternated between psychotic states of floridness and near-immobility) he would never have been able to accomplish what he did as itinerant evangelist and spokesperson for the Methodist movement. On the other hand, mood swings that are non-psychotic yet more extreme than those of most people are labelled today as “cyclothymiac.” While psychiatric speculation can never be confirmed, from Charles’ correspondence and journals it appears incontrovertible that he suffered more than most in this regard. Poets routinely do. Today he would strike us as eccentric to say the least. He wore his winter clothing throughout the year, even in the hottest summer weather. Whenever poetic inspiration fell on him he became preoccupied to the point of semi-derangement. Seemingly unaware of where he was or what was in front of him, he would walk into a table or chair or desk, stumbling, lurching, crashing, not helped at all by his extreme short-sightedness. He would stride into a room, oblivious of the fact that a conversation had been underway before he invaded, and begin firing questions at those present, these people now startled at the apparent rudeness and effrontery of the man whose lack of social perception allowed him to continue interrogating people who couldn’t reply and who weren’t answerable to him in any case. Not waiting for their response, he would pour out aloud the poetry that was taking shape in his head, then turn on his heel and walk out. If he happened to be on horseback when lines fell into place in his head, he would ride to the home of an acquaintance, hammer on the door and cry, “Pen and ink! Pen and ink!” The poetry safely written down, he excused himself and went on his way.

Charles could write poetry for any occasion. When his wife was about to enter upon the rigours of childbirth, for instance (made even more rigorous in the Eighteenth Century on account of the primitive state of obstetrics), he wrote a poem for her which she could use as a prayer:

Who so near the birth hast brought,

(Since I on Thee rely)

Tell me, Saviour, wilt thou not

Thy farther help supply?

Whisper to my list’ning soul,

Wilt thou not my strength renew,

Nature’s fears and pangs control,

And bring thy handmaid through?

At the funeral of George Whitefield, the Anglican evangelist who was a much more dramatic preacher than either John or Charles Wesley, Charles praised his departed friend in a poem 536 lines long. While his poetry concerned chiefly the themes of the gospel message, he also tried, as imaginatively as he could, to empathize with all sorts of people in their manifold stresses and strains and griefs. For this reason he has left us poetry about wives and widows, coalminers and criminals, high school students and highwaymen, saints and soldiers, particularly soldiers who were loyal to the crown of England during the American War of Independence.

Charles was born in 1707, the 18th of 19 children, eleven of whom survived the ravages of childhood disease. He gained his eccentricity from both his mother and his father. When his mother, Susannah Annesley, was only 13 years-old she defied her father, a learned Puritan minister, and informed the family that she was becoming an Anglican. The Anglican Church, the state-church, had persecuted Puritan Dissenters for decades, frequently making martyrs out of men who wanted only to preach the gospel according to their conscience. The thirteen year-old voiced no reason for her decision; she was content to tell her hurt and horrified parents that she was convinced of the soundness of her position and had inscribed it in her diary. (Years later her diary disappeared in the house-fire that nearly carried her off with her husband and children. Therefore no one knows to this day what reasons she had advanced.) Susannah was unyielding. When she married, several years later, her father wasn’t allowed to officiate, since no non-Anglican minister could preside at a service of the state-church. Her father was crushed at his being excluded.

The father of Charles, Samuel Wesley, was eccentric too. Fancying himself a poet, he published a book of entirely forgettable verse. The title of his book of poems was simply Maggots. The single illustration adorning the book was a drawing of Samuel himself with a large maggot sitting on his forehead. The poems are unusual: “The Grunting of a Hog”; “A Box like an Egg”; and, perhaps the most unusual, “The Tame Snake in a Box of Bran”.

Samuel and Susannah married, eventually having nineteen children. John was the fifteenth, Charles the eighteenth. (Ann, named after the British monarch, was the last of that generation.)

Both boys possessed awesome academic talent. When he was still a teenager Charles competed in what was known as a “Challenge,” a scholarly joust wherein one fellow tried to stymie another on any of a hundred subtle questions concerning Greek grammar. The competition began early in the morning and continued until nine at night, three or four nights a week, for eight weeks. Much was at stake, since the winner would be named a “King’s Scholar” and guaranteed entrance to Oxford or Cambridge University . Charles triumphed and moved on to Oxford .

Following his ordination to the Anglican priesthood Charles ministered in Georgia for six months where he proved himself to be a most obnoxious clergyman: prickly, opinionated, self-righteous, condescending, prying. Upon his return to England he rejoined his sister Kezia, the youngest of the nineteen Wesley children. Kezia’s adolescent frivolity had infuriated Charles earlier, for Kezia used snuff, the Eighteenth Century equivalent of marijuana. Her frivolity behind her now in her new-found maturity, Kezia told Charles she believed that God could and did work a work of grace in the human heart. Believers, she said, were granted new standing before God, a new nature, new outlook, new motivation, new affections. Then on 21st May, 1738 , Kezia’s conviction and experience of the truth became his. Charles wrote in his journal, “…by degrees [the Spirit of God] chased away the darkness of my unbelief. I found myself convinced…. I saw that by faith I stood.”[2] Whereupon he wrote a hymn that Christians continue to find a ready vehicle of their own experience of grace:

And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Saviour’s blood?

Died he for me, who caused his pain?

For me, who him to death pursued?

Amazing love! how can it be

That thou, my God, should’st die for me?

Three days later John came to the same awareness. Methodism was born. In the meantime their friend George Whitefield (unlike the Wesleys, George Whitefield had not been born to the privileged clergy class but rather was the illegitimate child of an English barmaid); Whitefield, an Anglican priest like the Wesleys, had been expelled from Anglican pulpits. Like John the Baptist, Whitefield never left any doubt as to where he stood. “I am persuaded”, he wrote, “that the generality of preachers talk of an unknown and an unfelt Christ. The reason why congregations have been so dead is because they have had dead men preaching to them. How can dead men beget living children?”[3] Soon Whitefield was joined by the Wesleys in outdoor preaching, where they addressed crowds of up to 25,000.

In 1740 Charles visited Wales for the first time. On the whole the Welsh people loved him. In Cardiff , however, he had his first taste of violence (although by no means his last.) An aristocrat who heard him was incensed at being told that moral rectitude was no substitute for clinging in faith to the sin-bearing Christ. Angrily he demanded that Charles recant. Charles refused and replied to him, “You cannot endure sound doctrine…you are a rebel against God, and must bow your stiff neck to him before you can be forgiven.” Whereupon the angry man assaulted Charles with his cane. A melee developed, in the course of which a Mrs. Phipps was struck as well. Her name will never be forgotten only because of her proximity to the assault on Charles – as Pilate is immortalized on account of his proximity to the Crucifixion.

Not only was Charles a forceful evangelist, he was a diligent pastor. Like any good pastor, he spent much time at deathbeds. His journal entry of 4th March, 1741 , reads, “I saw my dear friend again, in great bodily weakness but strong in the Lord…. I spoke with her physician who said, ‘She has no dread upon her spirits…I never met such people as yours.’” In the same year he buried a young woman, Rachel Peacock, and subsequently wrote, “At the sight of her coffin my soul was moved within me and struggled as a bird to break the cage. Some relief I found in tears, but still was so overpowered that unless God had abated the vehemence of my desires, I could have had no utterance. The whole congregation partook with me of the blessedness of mourning.”

When Charles was 39 years old he married Sarah Gwynne, daughter of Marmaduke Gwynne, a Welsh magistrate. Sarah, known to everyone as “Sally”, was 20. Before she married him she told him he had to take better care of himself physically. To this end she urged him to stop getting up every morning at four and to sleep in until six; to stop sleeping on boards and begin sleeping in a bed; and lastly, if she was going to marry him he would have to take off his clothes when he slept. Extraordinarily beautiful, Sarah sat for several portrait painters. She had been married for only two years when smallpox overtook her. She lingered near death for days. Her eighteen month old son, “Jacky,” succumbed. Sarah regained her health even as her face, hideously disfigured now, was more than many people could bear to look at. When someone who hadn’t seen her since her illness blurted to Charles that his wife’s appearance was repulsive, Charles commented, “I find her beautiful.” Theirs was a marriage of storybook romance. Ultimately eight children were born to them, five of whom died in infancy or early childhood. Two sons, Samuel and Charles II, would distinguish themselves as musical performers and composers. (Samuel Sebastian Wesley, the best-known of the musical Wesleys, has tunes in every denomination’s hymnal. In addition he wrote twenty oratorios.)

Yet not everyone among the Wesley brothers and sisters had a marriage like theirs. Mehetabel or “Hetty”, the favourite sister of both John and Charles, was intelligent, vivacious, wonderfully gifted as a poet and sensitive to a degree that only her two dear brothers appeared to grasp.[4] When Hetty was 25 years-old a suitor called on her several times. Her father, Samuel, disapproved of the suitor and told him not to come back. Samuel reinforced his decree by sending Hetty to a wealthy family where she worked as an unpaid drudge. She had been wounded by her father’s heavy-handedness, was desperately lonely, and lacked utterly the intellectual company she craved. She wrote John vowing that she would never return home. She was home in less than a year, five months pregnant. Her father, heavy-handed still and enraged now as well, forced her to marry Mr. William Wright, a coarse, insensitive fellow as unlike Hetty as any man could be, and habitually drunk as well. Her baby died before it was a year old. A second infant died, and then a third. Hetty was crushed. Her grief found expression in her poem, “To an Infant Expiring the Second Day of its Birth”:

Tender softness, infant mild,

Perfect, purest, brightest child!

Transient lustre, beauteous clay,

Smiling wonder of a day!

Ere the last convulsive start

Rend thy unresisting heart,

Ere the long-enduring swoon

Weigh thy precious eyelids down,

Oh, regard a mother’s moan!

Anguish deeper than thy own!

Fairest eyes, whose dawning light

Late with rapture blessed my sight,

Ere your orbs extinguished be,

Bend their trembling beams on me.

Drooping sweetness, verdant flow’r,

Blooming, with’ring in an hour,

Ere thy gentle breast sustains

Latest, fiercest, vital pains,

Hear a suppliant! Let me be

Partner in thy destiny![5]

John was irate at his father’s callousness and preached a sermon, “Showing Charity to Repentant Sinners.” The sermon excoriated father Samuel and was meant to acquaint him with his cruelty. The older man remained unaffected, however, his heart hardened against his daughter forever.

When Hetty fell mortally ill while still a young woman, Charles attended her. “I prayed by my sister”, he wrote, “a gracious, trembling soul; a bruised reed which the Lord will not break.” The day Hetty died John was absent in London . Charles conducted the funeral service for his favourite sister, preaching on Isaiah 60:19, “The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.’ That night he wrote in his journal, “I followed her to a quiet grave, and I wept with them that wept.”

While Charles had no dispute with his sisters, he had several with John. They disagreed sharply over the matter of lay-preachers. As Methodism gathered more and more people it found itself without sufficient preachers. While John and Charles were Anglican priests and intended being nothing else, relatively few Anglican clergy sided with the Methodists, knowing that to do so would render them suspect to Anglican officialdom. As a result, the Methodist movement had to use more and more lay-preachers. These lay-preachers were zealous, sincere men whose dedication entailed enormous personal sacrifice but who lacked formal academic training. Oxford-educated himself, John had insisted that they study five hours each day. His mandate here was unrealistic in view of their lack of academic formation and even lack of time. Admittedly, their theological under-exposure tended to foster doctrinal imprecision, this in turn occasionally giving rise to preaching that Charles found to be full of sound and fury yet signifying little. Concerning one such lay-preacher, Michael Fenwick, Charles wrote,

Such a preacher I have never heard, and hope I never shall again. It         was beyond description. I cannot say he preached false doctrine, or true, or any doctrine at all, but pure, unmixed nonsense. Not one sentence did he utter that could do the least good to any one soul.[6]

John, however, insisted that Methodism couldn’t survive without lay-preachers and sharply rebuked Charles for his fussiness. (In this regard John was vindicated conclusively. Methodism wouldn’t have survived its first flowering without lay preachers whose sacrifice was nothing less than exemplary. While the British Crown guaranteed Anglican clergy an annual income of thirty pounds, lay preachers – John was careful never to call them “clergy” or “ministers” and thereby violate not only canon law but even the law of the land – were paid only fifteen pounds per year.) Charles was forced to tolerate the preachers whose utterance frequently grated on him.

The doctrine of Christian perfection, however, remained the area of sharpest contention between the brothers. John insisted, in conformity with the tradition of the church catholic, that there was no limit to the scope of God’s delivering his people from sin’s guilt and grip in this life[7]. To deny that God could “break every fetter” now was to condemn the habituated to life-long bondage, offering them only the faint comfort of release in articulo mortis. While always reading the word “perfection” as “single-minded” – the meaning it had in the King James Version of the bible, John never thought it to mean “flawless” or “faultless.” Charles riposted that Eighteenth Century people invariably heard “perfection” as “faultless.” Charles found “perfection” unhelpful; worse, disastrous, spawning as it did (he maintained) unrealistic self-estimation and insufferable spiritual pride, only to be followed by unforeseen vulnerability and embarrassing collapse. John thought Charles held out too little for people struggling with sin’s addiction; Charles thought John held out too much. Charles reiterated that if by “perfection” John meant something less than what others generally understood, he should stop using the term. John insisted that the term was scriptural.[8]  Mordant pen in hand, Charles scripted some of his sharpest exchanges with his brother:

If perfect I myself profess,

My own profession I disprove:

The purest saint that lives below

Doth his own sanctity disclaim,

The wisest owns, I nothing know,

The holiest cries, I nothing am.[9]


Sharper still, perhaps is his

Longer than all should forward press,

Should see the summit with his eyes,

Impatient for his own success

BE PERFECT NOW, the preacher cries!

He ruins by his headlong haste,

The wheat is choak’d with tares oer’run,

And Satan lays the lunacy and waste.[10]


By 1756 Charles no longer had the stamina for an itinerant ministry on horseback . He was 49 years old, had spent years being rain-soaked, frozen, poorly-fed and assaulted by angry mobs. He gave up the travelling ministry and established residence in Bristol , preaching there and in London regularly.[11]

By 1780 Charles was 73. Confusion had overtaken him. Poetry no longer leapt to his mind. When he preached now he paused at length between phrases, trying to recall what he wanted to say. In frustration he would thump his chest with both hands while mumbling incoherently. Then, tired, he would lean on the pulpit with both elbows. If he wanted more time he had the congregation sing a hymn; and if more time still, another hymn.

He lived another eight years. John was in Newcastle when he learned of the death of his brother. Next Sunday John was conducting worship, entirely composed, when the congregation happened to sing one of Charles’s earliest hymns. When the congregation came to the words

My company before is gone

And I am left alone with Thee

John unravelled. He staggered back into the pulpit chair, weeping profusely. The congregation waited for him, and he recovered enough to finish the service.

Sarah, Charles’s widow, moved to London and lived there with her daughter and son. She died in 1822 at the age of 96.


Part II: The Art of Charles Wesley[12]

To be sure, Charles Wesley was a genius, yet “genius” wasn’t the only ingredient in his poetic mastery. His classical education and his unrelenting assiduity were equally important.

Charles left home for high school when he was eleven years old. On Monday mornings the lower form boys wrote an English prose précis of the sermon they had heard the day before; the middle form boys wrote a Latin prose précis; the upper form boys, a Latin verse précis. (Is there a high school student in Canada today who could write a Latin verse précis of last Sunday’s sermon?)

After high school Charles moved on to Oxford University where he studied Latin and Greek for nine years, with concentration in Latin poetry. By age thirty he had written hundreds of poems, even though he had not yet penned any of the hymns that would issue from his spiritual awakening. When the awakening did occur, immersing him in a new world, it was so huge an event that Charles likened it to the creation of the cosmos. Certainly he had read aright the Greek text of 2nd Corinthians 5:17: the man or woman renewed in Christ lives in a new creation.  He compared the brooding of the Spirit over him to the brooding of the Spirit over the primeval chaos when the Spirit first brought the world into being:

Long o’er my formless soul

The dreary waves did roll;

Void I lay and sunk in night.

Thou, the overshadowing Dove,

Call’dst the chaos into light,

Badst me be, and live, and love.

All poets read other poets and are thereby informed by the poets they read. Charles was no exception. He read chiefly Shakespeare, Milton, Herbert, Dryden, Pope, Prior and Young. (Prior’s poem, “Solomon”, is 100 pages long, and Charles expected his daughter, Sally, to memorize all of it.) Yet none of the poets he read had anything like the influence on him of scripture. Subsequently his hymn-poems became conduits whereby the Methodist people were steeped in scripture as they hummed tunes in the course of their daily affairs. Generally Charles embedded one scripture text at least in each hymn line:

With glorious clouds encompassed round                         Ex. 24:16, 17; Ps. 97:2; Ez. 10:4

Whom angels dimly see,                                                 Isaiah 6:2

Will the Unsearchable be found,                                      Job11:7; 23:3,8,9; 1 Tim. 6:16

Of God appear to me?                                                    Isa. 59:2; Hab.1:13; 1 Cor.15:8


Come, then, and to my soul reveal                                  Dan. 2:22

The heights and depths of grace,                                     Eph. 3:18

The wounds which all my sorrows heal                           Isa. 53:4-5; 1 Pet. 2:24

That dear disfigured face.                                               Isa. 52:14; 53:2[13]


While Charles’s themes came from scripture, his poetic vocabulary was entirely his own, a fine blend of English words from Latin roots and English words from Anglo-Saxon roots. His basic vocabulary was Anglo-Saxon. Anglo-Saxon words are largely monosyllabic; e.g., “hit”, “wind”, “swept”, “thrust”. They are more vigorous than Latin words and have greater impact. English words derived from Latin, on the other hand, tend to be polysyllabic. They suggest not action but contemplation. They are capable of greater precision of thought.

Those aramanthine bowers

Inalienably made ours.

(Aramanthine means “never-fading.”) Charles was especially fond of Latinisms ending in -able, -ible, -ably and -ibly. Note his Christmas hymn on the Incarnation:

Our God contracted to a span,

Incomprehensibly made man.

In this vein we should note his hymn, “O Thou who camest from above”:

There let it for thy glory burn

With inextinguishable blaze.

(It might be noted in passing that William Tyndale, the master of early-modern Saxon vocabulary, never used Latinate polysyllabic words, always preferring the force of monosyllables; e.g., “My sin is more than I can bear.”) If today we find Wesley’s vocabulary difficult to understand in places because strange to us, we should know that his vocabulary is the most modern of all 18th century poets.


By dint of his 9-year immersion in classical poetry Charles absorbed thoroughly the poetic conventions used so very tellingly by the classical poets.

(i) Some of the rhetorical devices CW used.

Anaphora: repeating the same word at the beginning of consecutive phrases or sentences. E.g. (with respect to God’s grace),

Enough for all, enough for each,

Enough for evermore.

Anadiplosis: beginning a stanza with the theme (re-stated, but not reproduced word-for-word) of the last line of the preceding stanza. E.g., in “Jesus, lover of my soul”,

stanza 3, last line: “Thou art full of truth and grace.”

stanza 4, first line: “Plenteous grace with thee is found.”

And again, e.g., in “And can it be that I should gain”

stanza 1, last line: “That thou, my God, should’st die for me!”

stanza 2, first line: “‘Tis mystery all: th’immortal dies.”

Epanadiplosis: beginning and ending a line (“book-ending” the line) with the same word:

E.g., “Come, desire of nations, come.”

Epizeuxis: repeating a word or phrase within a line.

E.g., “Who for me, for me hast died.”

(The foregoing four devices are forms of repetition used to lend emphasis, continuity or cohesion.)

Aposiopesis: the speaker comes to a complete halt in mid-stanza.

E.g., “What shall I say?”

Oxymoron: inherent self-contradiction.

E.g., “I want a calmly-fervent zeal.”

Parison: an even balance in the expressions or words of a sentence.

E.g., “The good die young;

The bad live long.”

(Wesley used many more rhetorical devices as well.)


(ii) Some examples of CW’s vocabulary. (He liked to retain or recover literal meanings.)

expressed: shaped by a strong blow (as from a die)

illustrate: illuminate

secure: free from care

tremendous: terrifying

virtue: manliness or power (Latin: vis, power; vir, man)

pompous: dignified (but not ostentatious)


(iii) Some of the figures of speech CW used.

Metaphor: an implied comparison between two things.

E.g., “He laid his glory by,

He wrapped him in our clay.”

Synecdoche: one aspect of a person represents the whole of the person.

E.g., “The mournful, broken hearts rejoice.”

Antonomasia: a proper name is used as a general epithet.

E.g., “Come, all ye Magdalens in lust.”

Hypotyposis: lively description.

E.g., “See! He lifts his hands!

See! He shews the prints of love!”

Hyperbole: exaggerated language used to express the inexpressible.

E.g., “I rode on the sky

(Freely justified I!)

Nor envied Elijah his seat;

My soul mounted higher

In a chariot of fire,

And the moon it was under my feet.”

(Here CW was speaking of his experience of that grace which had pardoned him. (“Freely justified I!”)

(iv) Metre   (/ = accented syllable; ‘ = unaccented syllable.

iambic               ‘/

trochaic             /’

anapestic           ”/

dactylic             /”

spondaic           //

CW wrote chiefly in iambic metre. Isaac Watts did too.

E.g.,     “And then shall we for ever live

At this poor dying rate?

Our love so faint, so cold to Thee,

And thine to us so great!” ( Watts )

( Watts wrote 1000 poems, of which only 22 were in trochaic and 5 in anapestic.)

While CW preferred iambic, he also wrote significantly in trochaic and anapestic, sometimes combining them: iambic-anapestic (e.g., “Nor envied Elijah his seat”) or iambic-trochaic (e.g., “Jesus! the name that charms our fears’ – trochaic-iambic.) He rarely wrote in dactylic (unlike Longfellow’s Evangeline: “This is the forest primeval”, or even “ Hickory dickory dock.”) While most poets can work well in one metre only, CW could write superbly in any.

(v) Stanza Form

CW wrote many fine hymns in 4-line stanzas, the 1st and 3rd lines having 8 feet (syllables), and the 2nd and 4th lines 6.

E.g., “Jesus, united by thy grace,

And each to each endeared,

With confidence we seek thy face

And know our prayer is heard.”

He preferred 6 lines with 8 feet (

E.g., “Then let us sit beneath the cross,

And gladly catch the healing stream,

All things for him account but loss,

And give up all our hearts to him;

Of nothing think or speak beside,

‘My Lord, my Love is crucified.’”

(Note the rhyme scheme here: ABABCC)

His next favourite stanza form was (‘romance metre”)

E.g., “If pure, essential love thou art,

Thy nature into every heart,

Thy loving self inspire;

Bid all our simple souls be one,

United in a bond unknown,

Baptized with heavenly fire.” (AABCCB)

(vi) Endings

Lines that end in an unaccented syllable are said to possess feminine rhyme: (“Love divine, all loves excelling”); lines ending in an accented syllable, masculine (“O what shall I do my Saviour to praise?”). Masculine rhymes were thought to be “stronger”, imparting greater emphasis. CW wrote 300 hymns in feminine rhymes, 8700 in masculine.



While the native genius and the formal training of Charles Wesley were important ingredients in his hymn writing, they weren’t the most important. What counted above all was his life in God, in particular his experience of the Crucified. Repeatedly in his Journal Charles summarized his ministerial endeavour and its Spirit-authored fruit, “She received the atonement.” His hymns sing pre-eminently about the cross. Despite his 9000 published poems, the depth and wonder and force of his immersion in God is finally inexpressible. His matchless words,

Depth of mercy, can there be

Mercy still reserved for me?

point us to the heart of One before whom all of us (Charles too) are ultimately wordless.

Victor Shepherd     June 2004



[1]Rack, H.; Reasonable Enthusiast, p.252(Nashville: Abingdon, 1992.)

[2]Wesley, Charles, Journal, May 21st, 1738 ; quoted in Dallimore, A.,; A Heart Set Free: The Life of Charles Wesley, p.61 (Westchester: Crossway Books, 1988.)

[3] The quotations in the following paragraphs are found in the work cited above.

[4]The eldest brother, Samuel Wesley, never sided with the Eighteenth Century Awakening. He was ordained to the Anglican ministry, became headmaster of a boys’ school, and established a poetry journal. John and Charles appear to have had little to do with him.

[5]Wright, M.; “To an Infant Expiring the Second Day of its Birth”; quoted in Lonsdale, R., ed.; The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse, pp. 165-6 (Oxford, OUP, 1984.)

[6]Quoted in Dallimore, op.cit., p.189.

[7]The exception, John Wesley never tired of pointing out, was found in the churches of the Reformation: they abhorred all discussion of “perfection” as “fanatical.” John never denied the danger of fanaticism; at the same time, he knew that the Eastern Church and the Roman Catholic Church in the west held out to their people a sanctity that could be realized in this life.     While unquestionably a Protestant and therefore belonging to the west, he always found the Reformation churches deficient in this regard.

[8]For a detailed discussion of this point see Shepherd, V.; “’Can You Conceive Anything More Amiable Than This?’ A Note on Wesley’s Challenge Concerning Christian Perfection”; Papers of the Canadian Methodist Historical Society, 1997-1998,pp.18-43; ed. Semple, N.; (Toronto: CMHS, 1998)

[9]Tyson, J,; op.cit., p.389.

[10] Tyson, J,’ op.cit., p.387

[11]When Charles was ready to dismount his animal appears to have been ready to have him do so: Charles had ridden the same mare for fifteen years.

[12]For what follows I am largely indebted to Baker, F.; Charles Wesley’s Verse (London: Epworth Press, 1964.)

[13] See Hildebrandt, F., and Beckerlegge, O., eds.; The Works of John Wesley Vol. 7, “A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists”, pp.730-731; (Nashville: Abingdon, 1983.)