John Wesley: Did You Know?

JOHN WESLEY never intended to form a church separate from the Anglican Church. The separation occurred as a result of his personally ordaining preachers destined for America after the Revolutionary War. “Ordination is separation.”

During his ministry John Wesley rode over 250,000 miles on horseback, a distance equal to ten circuits of the globe along the equator. He preached over 40,000 sermons!

Charles Wesley wrote over 6500 hymns! Many of those hymns are still in hymnals the world over today.

Though not a doctor of medicine, John Wesley invented many cures for diseases he had, wrote a book on medicinal cures for the masses, and started clinics for the poor. If this were not enough to show him interested in medicine, he also experimented on the effects of electric shock to treat nervous disorders and treated thousands this way—none had adverse side effects from the treatments!

John Wesley preached in the open air to audiences estimated in the tens of thousands after Anglican pulpits were closed to him. Sometimes he began preaching at daybreak or even before daybreak, and regularly he preached three times a day.

Churches, said Wesley, should be built “in the octagonal form” (with eight sides) and the interior should have a rail in the middle “to divide the men from the women.” There were to be no pews and no backs to the seats!

Benjamin Franklin printed Wesley’s sermon “On Free Grace” and several sermons by Wesley’s friend and fellow preacher George Whitefield. In turn, Wesley read everything Franklin wrote on the physics of electricity, then wrote his own treatise on electricity. The two men never met!

Because of the enormous output of publications designed for the common man, John Wesley has been called“The Father of the Religious Paperback.” Sermons, tracts, pamphlets of every kind—numbering around 5000 items came from his pen!

John Wesley was one of eighteen children, eight of whom died in infancy.

When John and Charles Wesley founded the “Holy Club” at Oxford in 1729, not more than five or six members of the House of Commons went to church at all!

Before John and Charles Wesley went to Georgia as missionaries in 1735, they consulted their mother, who said, “If I had twenty sons, I should rejoice if they were all so employed, though I should never see them more.

When John Wesley had his “heart strangely warmed” on May 24, 1738, he was already ordained as a minister of the Anglican Church!

The greatest success of Methodism was not among the rich and “successful” but among the poor, but ironically, simple commoners were often the very ones who persecuted Wesley and the open air preachers most!

For all the power of his eyes and voice, John Wesley measured five-feet-three inches tall and weighed 128 pounds!

At John Wesley’s death in 1791 his followers numbered 79,000 in England and 40,000 in America, but by 1957 there were 40 million Methodists world-wide!

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #2 in 1983]

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