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Posted July 25, 2003
The Works of John Wesley are important not only to Christian history but also to history in general. Up until recently it has been difficult for the average person to have access to his writings. The multi-volume collection of his works is expensive and time-consuming to read all the way through. Abingdon also publishes his journals and other writings in the same paperback format as this book, making it more accessible. This anthology, however, is unique in that it compiles what is perhaps the most relevant writing Wesley did, namely the written version of the sermons he preached. Wesley stated that he lived 'by preaching.' This book is that which he lived by in written form. For historical interest, the journals are more important. Yet for knowledge of Wesley's thought and beliefs this book is the most valuable. It contains, not ALL of his sermons, but the most important ones both in terms of subject matter and chronological significance throughout his long and complex life. These sermons were not the actual word-for-word sermons he preached but rather the written exposition of the topic he addressed or the issue he dealt with in the pulpit, intended for publication to be read. For the layman, the average Christian reader with limited time and resources, this book will familiarize you with John Wesley in his own words. I have read Wesley's journals and many of his other works, as well as several biographies, but this book was my first time reading John Wesley, and remains the best in my opinion. The sermons were carefully selected by Outler to give a well-rounded introduction to John Wesley's theology and personal beliefs based on his understanding of the Scriptures. If anyone wants to know John Wesley, this book, and perhaps a biography such as the ones written by John Pollock or John Telford, would be enough to provide a wealth of information. If you have read Benson Bobrick's Wide As the Waters, you will find John Wesley to be, as I have heard him sometimes called, the 'warmth to wide waters.' The 'wide waters' of the Bible had been restored to the church in England by Wesley's time, but cold, dead orthodoxy had taken hold. Wesley restored religion to the heart, after he himself found his own 'heart strangely warmed' when he began to trust in Christ alone for salvation at Aldersgate in 1738. Arguably, no man other than Martin Luther was more vital to restoring the Christian faith and promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ. Read, enjoy and be transformed by this man's message---still vital today.
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Posted January 9, 2010
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