The Prevenient Piety of Samuel Wesley, Sr.

The Prevenient Piety of Samuel Wesley, Sr.

by Arthur Alan Torpy


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For the better part of two centuries, Wesley scholars have been given a picture of the family of John Wesley that focuses positively upon the relationships of John and his brother Charles and his mother Susanna. What has come down to us about John Wesley's father—Samuel Wesley, Sr.—is a mixture of good and bad character traits, mostly seemingly inconsequential with respect to the making of Methodism under John and Charles. Now with Arthur Torpy's work, we have reason to think differently. Samuel Wesley, Sr. was a complex person whose thoughts, actions, and convictions were based on his understanding and practice of his tradition, experience, scripture, and reasoning. The Prevenient Piety of Samuel Wesley, Sr. examines the life of Samuel Wesley, exploring the influences of his early Dissenting upbringing, his Oxford education, subsequent published writings, and post 1709 sermons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810860582
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/26/2009
Series: Pietist and Wesleyan Studies Series , #30
Pages: 186
Product dimensions: 6.18(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Arthur Alan Torpy is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. He has chaired the southwest region of the History of Christianity division of the American Academy of Religion for the past two years.

Table of Contents

Editor's Preface ix

Foreword x

Acknowledgments xii

Introduction-Samuel Wesley in Historical Context 1

Paradoxical Profiles 1

Dated Presentations 5

Projection of Chapters 8

Notes 10

Chapter 1 Redefining and Defying Traditions 14

Introduction 14

Raised and Nurtured in and by Dissent 15

Growing Disenchantment with Dissent 17

Changing Times 19

Experiencing Oxford for the First Time as a Dissenter 20

Returning to Oxford as a Church of England Man 25

Oxford Days: 1684-1688 25

Summary 27

Notes 29

Chapter 2 The Word of God and the Words of Samuel: Samuel's Use of Scripture and His Doctrine 34

Introduction 34

The Word of God: Scripture, the Basis of Piety 35

A Foundational Belief 35

A Literalist View of Scripture 36

Defenders of Literalism 36

Words of Precedence 37

Affirmation of Scripture in Wesley's Sermons 39

A Moderate Application of Scripture 40

Passions and Biblical Piety 41

Scripture Defended from Outside Threats: Catholics and Quakers 42

Samuel's Words: Encouraging and Exhorting the Practice of Piety 43

Athenian Mercury 43

Wesley's Contribution to the Athenian Gazette 45

Piety in and through Worship: Pious Communicant Rightly Prepared 47

Practical Piety in a Letter of Personal Correspondence 57

Piety in Wesley's Sermonic Material 59

Summary 62

Notes 63

Chapter 3 Wesley's Experiential Piety: Late Seventeenth Century English Piety 70

Introduction 70

Anthony Horneck 72

Anthony Horneck and Samuel Wesley 74

Experiential Piety 75

Crisis and Assurance 75

Perfectionism 78

Theft of Corn 80

Hetty's Moral Fall or Disobedience? 80

The Bible, First, Last and Always 82

OppositiveNature of Pietism 83

Wesley's Position on Slavery 84

Practical Piety for Samuel 86

Letters from Samuel Wesley to his Eldest Son, Samuel 87

Poetry: Tributes to Pious People 91

Summary 93

Notes 94

Chapter 4 Religious and Intellectual Ties that Bind 100

Samuel's Impact on His Sons 100

Relationship with John 100

Relationship with Charles 106

Relationship with Samuel, Jr. 110

Epilogue: The Lengthening Shadow of Samuel Wesley 112

Summary 116

Notes 118

Chapter 5 Conclusion: Toward a Fuller Understanding of Samuel Wesley 124

Notes 128

Appendix-Five Representative Sermons 129

No. 6 129

No. 16 134

No. 17 141

No. 25, part 1 148

No. 25, IIId Sermon on Ist Peter 4:3, 4, 5 verse 154

Bibliography 160

Index 170

About the Author 173

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