The New International Encyclopædia/Wesley, Charles

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The New International Encyclopædia
Wesley, Charles
Edition of 1905. See also Charles Wesley on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

WES'LEY, Charles (1707-88). An English clergyman, brother of John Wesley, with whom he was closely associated. He was born at Epworth, the eighteenth child of Samuel Wesley. At nine years of age he entered Westminster School, from which he went to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1726. Here, with some friends, he began the observance of a strict system of life, persuading them “to observe the method of study prescribed by the statutes of the university.” “This gained me,” he says, “the harmless nickname of methodist” — which seems at first not to have had a religious significance. After taking his degree, he had pupils for a while, whom he influenced in the spiritual life, though at this time he had not decided to take orders. He was, however, ordained in 1735, just before joining his brother John in the Georgia mission. His sojourn in America was even shorter than John's: it was marked by unpopularity due to the same cause of what was thought excessive strictness in life and doctrine. Returning to England, he became curate of Saint Mary's, Islington, and threw himself vigorously into evangelistic work. In 1739, after some unfriendliness and censure from the constituted authorities of the Church, he entered definitely on the itinerant ministry, which he pursued with great earnestness for the next seventeen years. He was of a more cautious and conservative temperament than John, and looked with distrust upon the gradual development of a tendency in the Methodist societies to separate from the Church of England, and upon his brother's views of perfection, which he thought must be attained by a gradual process. He died in London, after a period of failing health, and was buried in Marylebone churchyard. He is known chiefly for his hymns, of which he wrote over six thousand, many of them still in constant use. The poetical works of the brothers were published in thirteen volumes by the Rev. G. Osborne (1868-72). For the biography of Charles, apart from what appears in the Lives of his brother, consult Jackson (London, 1849) and Telford (ib., 1866).