1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Wesley

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 172.



Son of the rector of Epworth, in Lincolnshire, John Wesley (1703-1791) was educated at Oxford, where he and his brother Charles, and a few other students, lived after a regular system of pious study and discipline, whence they were denominated Methodists. James Harvey, author of the Meditations, and George Whitefield, the great preacher, who died at Newburyport, Mass., were members of this association. John and Charles Wesley sailed for Georgia with Oglethorpe, October 14th, 1735, and anchored in the Savannah River, February 6th, 1736. Charles soon returned to England; John stayed in Georgia a year and nine months. In 1740 he began in England that remarkable career as preacher, writer, and laborer, which led to the formation of the large and powerful Methodist denomination. In 1750 he married, but the union was an unhappy one, and separation ensued. He continued the ministerial work up to his eight-eighth year; his apostolic earnestness and venerable appearance procuring for him everywhere profound respect. His religious poems are many of them paraphrases from the German, but have much of the merit of original productions. From phenomena in his own family, Wesley became a devout believer in preternatural occurrences and spiritual intercommunication. "With my latest breath," he says, "will I bear my testimony against giving up to infidels one great proof of the invisible world."