SINCE, as Mr. Vulliamy has remarked, the last half-century of Wesley’s life is made up of a “noble monotony,” there is perhaps little need for me to excuse giving the greater part of this book to the earlier years, to the private rather than to the public Wesley, to the man in process of growth rather than to the finished figure. I have interpreted controversial points according to the more general conjectures, identifying, for instance, “a religious friend” met in 1725 with Varanese, and have avoided all apocryphal stories, except the one told of Wesley at the Charterhouse; for this legend, if not true to fact, is so true to the spirit, that I have thought myself justified in including it. Other matters have been omitted altogether, for instance Wesley’s experiments with the doctrine of acting only when the spirit was free to act, and his political moves, such as his printed epistle to the American colonists and his letter to Lord North.
My sources are given at the end of the book, the most important ones being, of course, Wesley’s own voluminous journals and equally voluminous letters. Those acquainted with these writings will recognize that this is so from many of my phrases, for whenever possible I have used Wesley’s own words to describe his states of mind.
PRINCIPAL EVENTS IN WESLEY’S LIFE
1703 ....Born, June 17th.
1714 ....Admitted to the Charterhouse, January 28th.
1720 ....Matriculates at Christ Church.
1725 ....Meets Varanese: is “set in earnest in a new life.” Ordained deacon, September 28th.
1728 ....Ordained priest, September 22nd.
1729 ....The Holy Club.
1731 ....The Aspasia episode.
1735 ....Death of his father. Sails for Georgia.
1737 ....Sophy Hopkey.
1738 ....Returns to England: meets Peter Böhler. The Fetter Lane Society. Conversion, May 24th.
1739 ....First preaches in the open air. Chapel at Bristol; the Foundery in London. Begins to publish his Journal.
1740 ....The Methodists separate from the Moravians.
1741 ....Separation from Whitefield.
1742 ....Allows lay preaching. Death of his mother.
1744 ....First Methodist Conference in London.
1747 ....First visit to Ireland.
1748 ....Grace Murray.
1751 ....Marries Mrs. Vazeille.
1755....Conference discusses separation from the Church of England; judged “not expedient.”
1763 ....Maxfield breaks away. Priests consecrated by Erasmus, a Greek bishop.
1770 ....Death of Whitefield.
1771 ....His wife leaves him, but not finally. Definite break with the Calvinists.