Wesley, Charles (1707-88), English clergyman and hymnist, born in the rectory at Epworth, Lincolnshire, and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, University of Oxford. While at Oxford, he was a member, with his older brother John, of the Holy Club.

 

In 1735 Wesley was ordained in the Church of England. Later that year he went to Georgia with his brother John as secretary to the colonial governor James Edward Oglethorpe. Ill health forced him to relinquish that post, however, and he returned to England the following year.

 

On May 21, 1738, Charles Wesley experienced a religious awakening similar to that which his brother John was to undergo three days later. Charles subsequently was closely associated with the Wesleyan movement and traveled extensively as an evangelical preacher. After 1756 he carried on his work chiefly in Bristol and in London, where he lived from 1771 on.

 

The two Wesleys differed on certain doctrinal matters. In addition, Charles strongly opposed steps that might lead to separation from the Church of England and thus disapproved of John's ordinations. Charles Wesley is often called the poet of the Methodist movement. He composed almost 7000 hymns, many of which are still sung in Protestant churches. Among the most widely known are “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and “Love Divine, All Love Excelling.”

 

"Wesley, Charles," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1993 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1993 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation

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