John and Charles Wesley were two of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susannah Wesley. Samuel pursued the labors of an Anglican clergyman in Epworth, England, while Susannah, ever the model Christian, formed both the spiritual and academic inclinations of her children.

Although quite different in temperament, John and Charles pursued similar academic and religious interests. Both entered Christ Church, one of Oxford’s largest colleges; John began in 1720 and Charles in 1726. After receiving his education, John was elected Fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford, and ordained two years later.

“Holy Club” and Failed Mission

Charles’s first year at Oxford was uneventful, but by his second year he settled down to a more serious life. He and a number of friends formed a “Holy Club.” They covenanted with each other to live disciplined Christian lives given to serious study of the Bible, prayer, fasting, and charitable works. Charles was the first of the group to be derisively labeled “Methodist” by fellow students, but his title became a badge of honor for these seekers of the Christian way. John Wesley joined the club after an absence from Oxford to help his ailing father in the parish ministry, and he eventually became its leader.

In 1735 the brothers Wesley sailed with General Oglethorpe on his second expedition to Georgia, but even in this missionary service, the old doubts about their experience of salvation surfaced. Neither John nor Charles could find assurance that he was indeed the child of God by grace. They returned to England believing their lives and ministry had failed. John Wesley wrote of his experience in Georgia, “I went to America to convert the Indians; but, oh, who shall convert me?”

Hearts “Strangely Warmed”

The answer ...

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