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

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