Wesley and the Men Who Followed

Some forty years ago the AJS 500cc which I rode to my preaching appointments was a more powerful 'beast' than John Wesley's horse. Yet I and others who are called to preach are 'following after' this man whom the Princetorian, Charles Hodge, described as a 'controller of history'.

Ian Murray is a thoughtful author of distinction. This book 'took shape in connection with an invitation to speak on John Wesley' in 2002. The venue was in Georgia, only a mile from where the Wesley brothers had ministered in Frederica in 1736. This and other events of God's leading are in an introduction which whets the appetite for the rest of the book. The book is not mere retelling of well known facts, nor does it evade the faults of Wesley, although it is not unduly critical in this respect.

Careful research has produced chapters on Justification and the controversial doctrine of Christian Perfection. Yet in these, and in his treatment of Arminianism, the Presbyterian author presents a balanced analysis of these divisions in the Methodist ranks which took the Calvinistic Methodists on a separate path. The chapters on William Bramwell, Gideon Ouseley and Thomas Collins should inspire not only preachers, but many Methodists who are unaware of the power of change which is wrought by the Holy Spirit.

The concluding chapter examines the Methodist Church which many members today have grown up in. His words should sound the alarm for us. Among several quotations, that of John Watsford in 1900 stands out: 'The desire today seems to be for less prayer and exposition of the Word of God and for more amusement'.

This is a book which I gladly recommend and which I will read again and again – tough sadly, for such a well researched book, Ian Murray does not mention in the last chapter the dynamic growth of Methodist Evangelicalism during the past fifty years.