Mr. Wesley on Power

Wesley produced two tracts– one on ‘The Origin of Power’ and another on ‘Liberty’. Wesley ultimately uses both essays to lay precepts against the circumstances of the American Revolution. In ‘Thoughts concerning the Origin of Power’ (1772), Wesley mainly tackles the notion if ‘power is derived from the people’, ridiculing the idea of ‘popular consent’ or democracy generating governing authority. Rather, “there is no power but from God”. However, this doesn’t make Wesley altogether anti-Republican. Instead, Wesley (can be read) as wanting political claims to be based upon right Reason. And, even if he is, more often than not, an non-egalitarian, Wesley is finally of the benevolent sort. In this series we will look his tract “On Liberty” later along with other Letters, but all the above need to be read together.

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Wesley on Female Ministry

I found this nugget in a 1748 letter to a Quaker where Wesley delineates some differences Christianity (as well as methodism, of course) has with most Quakers. This underlines the point that Wesley was largely conservative in his theological and social opinions. This is likely true whether we are speaking about his loyalty to the Church (the “Old Plan:”) or women in ministry. On a related tangent, I’ve written about classical methodists views, for example, respecting Miriam, sister of Aaron & Moses which is a similar bent. Nonetheless, here Wesley gives us a very succinct or convenient explanation respecting women’s ordination. Continue reading

Watts on National Election

What theological justifications for nationhood might our forefathers born against today’s multiculturalism? How might the case for nation been made compared to present day global identities? During the 18th and 19th centuries– a time corresponding to rising Anglo-power– ‘national election’ was an idea shared equally by Arminians and Calvinists. Among the former, I’ve run across this brand of election in writings by the luminous Rt. Rev. William White, forty year primate of the Protestant Episcopal Church (USA), and especially Mr. Adam Clarke of the Wesleyan Methodists from the UK. Previously, I touched the subject respecting William Smith’s Temporal Salvation where the concept was integral to the progress of American civilization, also known as manifest destiny. Admittedly, I know less of the Calvinist belief, but last year ran across Rev. Isaac Watts’s moral poetry for school children. Watts was an Independent minister in England and is known for his voluminous hymns. Anyway, his Divine and Moral Songs for Children introduce ‘national election’ in an easy and digestible form.  Continue reading

Psalm CXXII, “Aaron’s Mitred Sons”

We’re searching the songbooks of John and Charles Wesley for suitable hymns to sing before and after our class meeting. Wesley’s 1780 Collection of Hymns, intended for the United Societies, is usually most favored for it’s organization around the Christian walk to Glory. However, we oftentimes resort to older material. The several editions and publications of Hymns and Sacred Poems (HSP) are a less finished form, perhaps representing the development of the Wesleyite religious societies as they departed from reliance upon regular ministry? Consequently, there’s an ambiguity about the hymn selections, namely, a mixture between those that are purely ‘experiential’ compared to those wholly liturgical in spirit. Of course, the latter stand closer to the Church calendar, thereby, having a stronger public rather than private quality. As I perused these many editions, I stumbled upon a curious discrepancy in the 1747 version of HSP.    Continue reading

Hark How All the Welkin Rings

As we approach end of Christmastide, a look at Charles Wesley’s “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” appeared fitting. Even today, of course, C. Wesley’s beautiful nativity hymn has a sustained popularity. However, like most old methodist songs, it’s undergone some adaptations over time, perhaps minor ones. And, like many other Wesleyan songs, ‘Hark the Herald’ has been received throughout the Protestant denominations, even with Restoration Christians like the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS). A quick overview makes something of the case. Continue reading