Overview of Bible Study

John Wesley


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John Wesley

The 18th century was not a good time for the Anglican Church. The clergy was corrupt and lazy, thousands of John Wesleyparishes were without a priest, and the church did little to meet the spiritual needs of the new urban population created by the Industrial Revolution.

John Wesley was the 15th of 19 children born to a Lincolnshire priest. He was raised piously, and continued a strictly religious life into adulthood.

His religious nature deepened through study and experience, but it was not until he came across the writings of Martin Luther that he felt that he had come into the fullness of the Gospel.

As a young man, Wesley went to America to evangelize the colonists and native Indians but, feeling that he had failed in this purpose, he returned to England disillusioned.

It was on his return to England that he entered into those deeper experiences and developed those marvelous powers as a popular preacher which made him a national leader. He was associated at this time with George Whitefield, an eloquent preacher.

He preached twice a day, sometimes three or four times, and it is estimated that he traveled almost five thousand miles a year, mostly on horseback. During his career, he crossed the Irish Sea 42 times, and preached more than 40,000 sermons.

But his simple message offended many parish ministers, who banned him from their pulpits. Not to be discouraged, Wesley took to preaching in the fields, a practice which his capable contemporary George Whitefield had successfully pioneered. Wesley set out on horseback to preach wherever he could find an audience.

Wesley's sermons were often interrupted. Sometimes cows were driven into the crowd, and often he had to overcome hostile mobs.


Advice to MethodistsWesley realized that his converts neede support in their new life. Weekly classes were organized where believers could share their failures and their triumphs. This was the foundations of the Methodist Church. While Wesley himself never left the Church of England, the Methodist Church sprang from his movement.

Methodism soon became a part of established society, expanding to become one of the larger denominations, known for its evangelism and piety.

Methodism was quick to spread to the New World. Wesley appointed Thomas Coke as Superintendent in North America, giving him the power to ordain others. John Wesley's brother, Charles, contributed to Methodism by writing countless hymns to celebrate the joys and difficulties of new life in Christ.



Overview of Bible Study