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Of the rise of the Methodists in England in 1729, to the beginning of Methodism in the United States of America, in 1766.
THE Rev. John Wesley, (by the grace of God the Father and Founder of Methodism, and second son of the Rev. Samuel Wesley), was born June 17, old style, 1703. In the year 1720, he entered a student in Christ Church College, Oxford, and soon after took his degree of bachelor of arts.
Sept. 19, 1725, he was ordained a deacon, by Dr. Potter, at that time bishop of Oxford.
Shortly after he preached his first sermon, at South Leigh, within two miles of Witney in Oxfordshire.
March 17, 1726, he was elected Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford.
February 14, 1727, he took his degree of Mas. ter of Arts.
September 22, 1728, he was ordained Priest, by the same bishop.
Of the name of Methodist, as applied to Mr. Wesley and his followers, the following account is given. Mr. John Wesley, and by his advice and example his brother Charles, when at Oxford had become deeply serious. They received the sacrament weekly, and prevailed with two or three more young men to do the same. These young men occasionally met together, for the purpose of assisting and encouraging each other in their studies and religious duties ; they also regulated their employments by certain rules. This regularity procured them the distinguishing epithet of Methodists. This title was given in the first instance to Mr. Charles Wesley, by a fellow of Merton College; in allusion to an ancient coliege of physicians at Rome, who began to flourish about the time of Nero, and continued several ages ; they were remarkable for putting their patients under regimen, and were therefore termed methodjsts. This is the most accurate ac. count, for when Mr. Wesley speaks of this appellation, he mentions it only in very general terms, without attempting to state at what period of the society it was first given. « The exact regularity of their lives, as well as studies,” says he, “occasioned a young gentleman of Christ's Church
" There is a new set of Methodists sprung up.' The name was new and quaint, so it took immediately, and the Methodists were known all over the university.” It would seem, then, from the above account, that the name was given to the young gentleman in consequence of the remarks of the fellow of Merton College ; and Mr. Wesley in his Journal refers to it after the name had become pretty general. One thing is certain, the name was first given at Oxford in the year 1729.
Thus the society began and continued, till Mr. John Wesley went to Epworth to assist his fa
ther as his curate. In his absence, June 16, 1729, Mr. Charles Wesley, and one or two more, began again to meet to assist each other. In Nov. 1729, when Mr. John Wesley returned from Epworth, the whole management of the society devolved upon him. The society at that time consisted of the following persons— Mr. John Wesley, fellow of Lincoln college ; Mr. Charles Wesley, student of Christ's church; Mr. Richard Mor. gan, commoner of Christ's church ; and Mr. Kirkman, of Merton college. The next year, two or three of Mr. John Wesley's pupils desired the liberty of meeting with them, and afterwards one of Mr. Charles Wesley's pupils. In 1732, Mr. Benjamin Ingham, of Queen's college, and Mr. Broughton, of Exeter, were added to their num. ber. In April in the same year, Mr. Clayton, of Brazen-Nose college, with two or three of his pupils, were added. It was by his advice that they began to observe the fasts of the ancient church, every Wednesday and Friday. About the same time Mr. James Harvey, one of Mr. John Wes, ley's pupils, was added to the society. And in the year 1735, Mr. George Whitefield, of Pembroke college, joined them. At that time they were fourteen or fifteen in number, all of one heart and of one mind. They formed rules for the regulation of their time and their studies ; for reading the scriptures, and self-examination.They also visited the sick, and the prisoners, and received the Lord's Supper once a week.
Mr. John Wesley gives the following account of the rise of Methodism. “In 1729, my brother and I, by reading the Bible, saw inward and out. ward'holiness therein ; followed after it, and incited others so to do. In 1737, we saw that this. holiness comes by faith, and that men are justified before they are sanctified-But still holiness was our point.”