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

Miriam the Lay-Prophetess

The snippets of Miriam in scripture have apparently been enlisted by modern-day “Methodists” to prove women’s ordination. While Wesley himself allowed women preachers in exceptional and rare cases (note: among hundreds of preachers there was only a small handful), Wesley understood preachers as a lay-office, apart from the Temple. The use of brief scriptural accounts to make Miriam like Aaron, hardly passes mustard with classical methodist commentators such as Clarke and Benson. Indeed, these esteemed commentators understood Miriam as serving women in the congregation rather than having a universal leadership or sacrificing priesthood.  Continue reading

Article-Seventeen’s Omission

A while back, I debated with a friend about the Wesley’s omission (from the Thirty-Nine Articles) of Article 17, On Predestination. My major point was classical Arminians, like Wesley, had no quarrel with Predestination or Election (given God’s foreknowledge). Rather, their omission owed to the sharpness of party division making Predestination an, all to often, occasion for controversy. Wesleyans agreed with the Article, though emphasizing particulars related to ‘calling’–“they through grace obey the calling”– rather than assuming too much about “decreed by his counsel secret to us”.  Accordingly, when Wesley sent his Abridged Version of the Articles to America, aka. the 25-Articles, with his Sunday Service and Collection of Hymns, he kept only what he believed essential to doctrine and preaching.  Continue reading

The Earnest & Farther Appeals

Wesley’s two tracts, An Earnest Appeal & A Farther Appeal, both defend methodists from common charges of enthusiasm and schism. Indeed, John Wesley produced a multitude of apologetics, found nearly in all his writings, against these accusations, especially when blamed for separating from the church. Probably the foremost evidence that Wesley intended the methodists to stay within the Church is found in his 1743 General Rule where the Society is expected to be diligent in attending all public services, especially Holy Communion. Given Wesley’s example was for all his preachers, we can assume he was talking about the Established Church. In both Appeals, Wesley would rather have detractors judge his people by their fruit rather than by hearsay, crediting increased attendance at parishes as proof that Methodism benefited the common weal. Continue reading

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”– a contrite evangelical saying but evidently an old idea going at least back to the English civil wars but likely ancient. Besides the colloquially contains several dense theological concepts. I was surprised to find the idea in Mr. Benson’s commentary on Ephesians chapter 4, verse 26 and then cross referenced with Christ’s anger at the pharisees for their contempt of the Father’s mercy as well as his divine person. Below are several quotations illustrating Benson’s high regard of Anglican writers as well as a similar reference found in the Rev. Allestree’s Whole Duty of Man, an interregnum text.  Continue reading

Mr. Benson on Malachi 1:2, 4

In an earlier post on Wesleyan Degrees of Love we spoke about the practical application of Christian charity (e.g., doing good all men’s souls) as it pertained to the Methodist people. The second-half of the same essay then covered Anglican opinion Benevolence, mapping out an older view of Love as it was often constrained by Duty. One of my favorite methodist commentators (next to Dr. Clarke) is the so-called church Methodist, Joseph Benson. Mr. Benson resisted the administration of sacraments among methodist preachers as well as venturing an earlier project with Dr. Fletcher make the Wesleyite Connexion subsidiary to the Church of England. Consequently, Benson gives much privy to Anglican opinion. In this case, he provides us further insight on God’s universal Love, though by Degree, by the scriptural verses,”I loved Jacob, And Esau I hated”.  Continue reading