Incorporating The Wesley Fellowship Quarterly
Chairman : Rev. Dr Herbert B. McGonigle
: Mr Paul S. Taylor, M.A., Stonebridge Cottage, Back
Lane, Shearsby, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, U.K., LE17 6PN
The Executive Committee includes the above officers together with:
Book/Tape Sales : Rev. Tony Tamburello, 13 Charles
Street, Colne, Lancashire , BB8 0LY
Mr John Gibby
Editorial Note : We welcome you to this the first issue of our re-named periodical, The Wesley Fellowship Bulletin. The change is designed to put right the anomaly of a newsletter entitled ‘Quarterly’ that has generally appeared less frequently than suggested by its title! Numbering will continue on from the old Wesley Fellowship Quarterly and our aim is (DV) to produce and send to our membership no less than two editions per year, with one published before each of our usual meetings in the Spring and Autumn. Furthermore, following comments from members, and to emphasise that the WF is an interdenominational fellowship of evangelical Christians interested in the teaching and spirit of both John and Charles Wesley, seeking to make relevant today their distinctive Wesleyan expression of the Christian faith, we have now placed an illustration of both brothers alongside the title of our journal.
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Before I write about our forthcoming meeting - coming up in April 2006 - I want to recall our last Wesley Fellowship gathering back in October last year. As always, we opened our day together in worship, with Scripture, prayer and fine hymn singing - and it prepared us well for the two stimulating Papers that made up the programme. The Revd George Kime spoke to us about the Revd. William Grimshaw (1708-1763), vicar of Haworth in West Yorkshire. Grimshaw was converted while he was in the ministry and warmly welcomed the Wesleys and George Whitefield to his pulpit. Mr Kime’s Paper was a delight to listen to and we all learned much from it. Bringing the second Paper, the Revd Dr John Haley spoke about John Wesley’s 1780 publication, A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists. Wesley intended that these five-hundred-and-twenty-five hymns would represent Wesleyan doctrine. Dr Haley demonstrated that this collection of hymns was really an outline of systematic theology. There was a lot of keen interest in both Papers and they provoked plenty of questions and discussion. The Wesley Fellowship has now published Dr Haley’s paper - and members will be pleased to find that their free copy, with the title ‘A Little Body of Experimental and Practical Divinity’: Hymns in the Wesleyan-Arminian Tradition, accompanies this mailing.
Now we are looking forward to our next meeting on Saturday 22 April 2006, which will convene, as usual, in Zion Church of the Nazarene in Birmingham. In the morning session the Revd Dr Martin Wellings will tell us about the origins and purpose of the Methodist Revival Fellowship. In the afternoon the Revd Dr Ian Randall will bring the annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture. His subject will be ‘ Cliff College and the Evangelical Tradition.’ The late Revd Maynard James (1902-1988) was a student at Cliff College in the days of Principal Samuel Chadwick (who died in 1932). Later, in 1935, Maynard James founded and edited The Flame magazine and became an internationally well-known holiness evangelist. Both these Papers promise to be very informative and interesting. If all who are reading this announcement will plan to be there, we’ll have a large gathering indeed! Please do your best to join us on April 22nd for what will be a good day of Wesley fellowship. And we can promise you that some great hymns will again be sung that day, hymns that, sadly, are heard less and less in our churches these days.
A very important diary date! Next year, 2007, will be the tercentenary of the birth of Charles Wesley, who was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire, in 1707. To mark this important occasion we are planning a Residential Conference, from Tuesday 3 rd to Thursday 5 th April 2007.The whole Conference will be given over to Papers and Presentations on the life and hymns and preaching of Charles Wesley. One of the expected speakers is the distinguished Methodist scholar, former President of the Methodist Conference, and former Chair of the Archives and History Committee of the Methodist Church, the Revd Dr John A. Newton, C.B.E., author of the ‘definitive biography’ Susanna Wesley and the Puritan Tradition in Methodism (2 nd ed. 2002). This will be a Conference not to be missed! Please note the dates, and plan to be with us at the Hayes Conference Centre. We promise that the Conference will include a large selection of Charles Wesley's hymns to be sung!!
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Question: Is it true that John Wesley didn’t like Quakers?
Answer : No it isn’t true. John Wesley discovered from his itinerant preaching that Quakers gave him a mixed reception - in much the same way that members of the Church of England did. There were some Quakers who listened to his preaching, believed the gospel and professed Christ for salvation. Wesley’s Journal has records of these happenings. At the same time there were other Quakers who strongly opposed Wesley’s ministry, just as many nominal Anglicans did. Wesley had made a close study of the writings of Robert Barclay (1648-1690), the Scottish Quaker theologian and friend of George Fox. He charged Barclay with making sanctification the ground of our justification - the same error that’s found in Roman Catholic teaching - and that, as a consequence, Barclay was teaching justification by works and not by faith (see Wesley’s Works, ed. Jackson, 10: 177-188). But he also found sound doctrine in Barclay and adapted and used his work, An Apology for the true Christian Divinity (first published in Latin in 1676 as Theologiae Vere Christianae Apologia , translated into English in 1677 by Barclay, and usually called Barclay’s ‘Apology’) when Wesley was refuting the doctrine of unconditional predestination. Wesley first published his edited version of Barclay’s anti-predestinarian arguments in 1741 under the title, Serious Considerations on Absolute Predestination: Extracted from a late Author. This 24-page apologia is not found in the popular Jackson (14 vol.) edition of Wesley’s Works but it will be included in a still awaited volume of the new (in progress 34-vols.) Bicentennial Edition of The Works of John Wesley.
Note : Dr McGonigle is willing to consider questions on Wesleyan theology, history and experience for answers in the WF Bulletin, also locating Wesley quotes, etc. Such questions should be sent in the first instance via the Secretary.
FROM THE SECRETARY
1. The next meeting of the Wesley Fellowshipwill be on Saturday 22 nd April 2006, at Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 0JJ. The day will begin from10.30am for arrivals and drinks, with a prompt start on the more formal part of the meeting at 11.00am. Please bring your own food for the break for lunch between the morning and afternoon sessions. We are grateful to the Zion Church for their hospitality and for providing the drinks at the start and end of the day and at lunch time. The meeting should end by about 3.30pm. On this occasion the Revd Dr Martin Wellings, MA, a Methodist minister at Oxford, and recently appointed Chair of the Archives and History Committee of the Methodist Church,will present in the morning session a paper entitled ‘The Methodist Revival Fellowship’. The afternoon session will take the form ofthe 18 th Annual Maynard James Memorial Lecture, to be presented by the Revd Dr Ian Randall, MA, of Spurgeon’s College, London, with the title ‘ The Evangelical History of Cliff College’. PLEASE BOOK THE DATE – PLAN TO COME – BRING FRIENDS – ALL ARE WELCOME!
2. Autumn 2006 Meeting of the Wesley Fellowship. The Autumn meeting of the Fellowship is planned to take place at the same venue, of Zion Church of the Nazarene, Brearley Street, Handsworth, Birmingham, B21 0JJ, with the usual arrival from 10.30am for a prompt 11.00am start on Saturday 4 th November 2006. Further details later – but do please book this date in your diary!
3. Residential Tercentenary Conference 2007 Please note the dates and plan to be with us at the Wesley Fellowship Conference at the Hayes Conference Centre on Tuesday 3rd to Thursday 5 th April 2007 to mark and celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of Charles Wesley in 1707. Further details later.
4. Membership Subscriptions
Membership subscriptions for 2006-2007 are due on 1st April 2006 . Please send them to the Secretary. We do value prompt payment as it helps so much with cash-flow. The rates will stay the same for this next year but it may prove necessary to increase them slightly for 2007-2008. A payment slip for your use to pay this year’s subscription is enclosed with the mailing of this edition of the Bulletin (together with your free copy of the latest Wesley Fellowship publication, ‘A Little Body of Experimental and Practical Divinity’: Hymns in the Wesleyan-Arminian Tradition by John Haley). We thank you for your fellowship and support over another year.
5. Revd Gordon Thomas We are pleased to report to the many WF members who have been faithfully praying for Gordon that his health, much to his doctors’ surprise and delight, has improved greatly since those dark days twelve months ago reported in earlier issues of the WFQ, and he is now lecturing on at least a ‘half-timetable’ basis at his post at Nazarene Theological College, Didsbury, Manchester.
The Hymn Writer James Montgomery (1771-1854)
The Town Hall at Wath on Dearne 1 in the once grimy part of South Yorkshire is on Montgomery Road. Little did I know when I worked there as a junior engineer in my pre-Christian youth that the road so familiar to me indicated the association of the small town with the great hymn writer James Montgomery – and nobody told me! Montgomery arrived in Wath on Dearne as a youth of eighteen with little money and even fewer prospects. He soon found favour with the owner of a general store who employed him as his assistant. Not long after, the youth was drawn to the anticipated excitement and better prospects of London to seek more opportunities for his poetic gift. He found neither excitement nor prospects in the metropolis so he was soon back in Yorkshire where the gracious shopkeeper restored James to his former position.
James Montgomery was not to find his life’s work either in Wath on Dearne or London, but in Sheffield - where he was initially employed as a clerk on the staff of the Sheffield Register, a paper whose editor, Joseph Gales, a Unitarian, was a man with strongly held revolutionary views unpopular with the Government. Afraid that he would not get a fair trial if charged with conspiracy, the editor had to flee the country in 1794 and eventually ended his days in the USA. At the age of twenty-five, James Montgomery bought the paper and changed the name to the Sheffield Iris. His work, first as editor of the Iris and later as a writer for other publications in Sheffield continued for most of his life and there is a statue of Montgomery in the city near to the Cathedral to mark the esteem with which he was eventually held. 2
James Montgomery had been born in Irvine in Scotland in 1771 to parents who were evangelical Moravians, his father being a Moravian minister. As a boy of five, James was taken to the famous Moravian settlement at Gracehill (near Ballymena, Co. Antrim, in the north of Ireland) where he was spiritually nurtured and his education began. At the age of seven, James was sent off to begin his formal education at the Moravian seminary at Fulneck in West Yorkshire. During this time, James was left in Yorkshire while his parents had been called to missionary work in the West Indies, where they both died leaving him an orphan by the age of twelve.
James Montgomery’s spiritual awakening and life among the Moravians at Fulneck ensured a sound evangelical foundation for his true calling as a hymn writer. His temperament tended towards occasional periods of depression, rather like (but less severe than) that experienced by the Olney hymn writer, William Cowper. Apparently, his teachers often found him ‘difficult’ but the Lord had set his seal on the youthful James and his subsequent life’s work has been a source of rich blessing to thousands of Christians as they have sung his hymns.
In 1810, adding to his own compositions hymns from the pen of men such as Watts, Wesley, and Newton, the Revd James Cotterill compiled and published the first edition of his Selection of Psalms and Hymns Adapted to the Services of the Church of England. After Cotterill came to Sheffield in 1817 to take up the position of Perpetual Curate of St Paul’s Church he met James Montgomery, by then the well known editor of the Sheffield Iris. Much to the disappointment and concern of Cotterill he found that his Yorkshire parishioners did not take kindly to using his Selection, so he enlisted the help of James Montgomery to help him revise and ‘improve’ the collection by adding some hymns of Montgomery’s own composition. With this new edition meeting with the approval of the Archbishop of York (and eventually of the parishioners of St Paul’s), it was finally published in 1820. In 1822 Montgomery published Songs of Zion: Being Imitations of Psalms, the first of several collections of hymns of his own composition. In all, apart from some secular poems and academic writing on the techniques and practice of hymn writing itself, Montgomery is said to have composed over four hundred hymns - but sadly only a comparative few have survived in regular use to the present century partly owing to changes in singing in worship. Until fairly recently, thirty or forty hymns by Montgomery were in regular church use. His hymns reflect his evangelical doctrines, Moravian piety, Methodist fervour, and Anglican orthodoxy. Because there was no Moravian congregation in Sheffield, Montgomery associated himself with the Methodists who at that time, of course, were still enjoying the fruits of the revival in the previous century. The famous Methodist Hymn-Book (1933) contains 14 of Montgomery’s hymns; its successor, Hymns and Psalms: A Methodist and Ecumenical Hymn Book (1983) has 13; Christian Hymns (Evangelical Movement of Wales, 1977) has a better selection with 26. The present writer feels that James Montgomery, despite his wide knowledge of Scripture and his unabated love of God, as a hymn writer never quite scaled the heights of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley at their best – but surely he ranks alongside remarkably gifted and inspired hymn writers such as P.Doddridge, W.Cowper, and J. Newton.
James Montgomery died in his adopted city of Sheffield in 1854, having accomplished his calling and was given the rare honour of a public funeral to mark the esteem in which he was held. So it was, in his own words, ‘For ever with the Lord! Amen, so let it be!’
1. The town is also known as Wath-upon-Dearne, the ‘Wath’ coming from the Viking word ‘vath’ meaning ‘a ford’. A claim to fame of the town is that it was once the home of William Addy, a pioneer of shorthand who was the author of a shorthand Bible published about 1687. Back.
2. In his early days as editor, Montgomery had been jailed in York more than once in the 1790s for publishing information that displeased the Government, including a poem (that he did not write!) commemorating the fall of the Bastille, and also for reporting on a riot in Sheffield. Back.
Editor’s Note: We are grateful to our Wesley Fellowship Secretary, Paul Taylor, for allowing us to publish the above article, which is the substance of a Paper he read recently at a church in Coventry. Unfortunately, one very important part of Paul’s presentation omitted here is his actual choice of James Montgomery’s hymns that he chose as illustrations - and for the congregation to read and actually sing.
Orthodox and Wesleyan Spirituality, edited by S.T.Kimbrough, Jr (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, New York, 2002. pp.285. £12.99, pbk. ISBN 0-88141-235-X).
I want to draw attention to three books published recently that will be of interest to WF members. The first is Orthodoxy and Wesleyan Spirituality, edited by S T Kimbrough. This is a collection of fourteen essays by Orthodox and Wesleyan scholars, exploring the theology and spirituality of both communions. As is usual in such composite books, the essays are of varying degrees of interest. Two are of particular significance. Richard P Heitzenrater, in his ‘John Wesley’s Reading of and References to the Early Church Fathers,’ demonstrates that Wesley’s direct knowledge of the Eastern Fathers is less substantiated than is sometimes taken for granted. This is a conclusion that this reviewer did not find surprising. The other particularly significant essay is Hieromonk A. Golitzin’s ‘A Testimony to Christianity as Transfiguration: The Macarian Homilies and Orthodox Spirituality’. John Wesley had a deep interest in Macarius’ Homilies and included a selection of them in his Christian Library. Four of the papers included in the volume are particularly concerned with ‘Perspectives on Holiness in Eastern Sources and the Wesleys’, and four more are specifically concerned with various Eastern sources and Charles Wesley. Overall, this book is really one to know about and ‘dip into’ here and there.
John Wesley’s ‘A Plain Account of Christian Perfection’: The Annotated Edition [The John Wesley Christian Perfection Library, Volume One], by Mark K. Olson (Alethea In Heart, Fenwick, MI, USA, 2005. pp. xiv. 332. £29.00, hb. ISBN-13: 9781932370850)
In this second book, Mark K. Olsen has produced an enlarged edition of John Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, and entitled it ‘The Annotated Edition’. Olsen has taken (unabridged) Wesley’s 1777 final revision of the Plain Account (using the version as published in the standard 14-vol. ‘Third Edition’ of Wesley’s Works edited by Thomas Jackson) and added lengthy footnotes and other explanatory and relevant information from Wesley’s other writings, as well as those of a few contemporary Wesley scholars. Olsen has also included in the ‘resource section’ of around seventy pages various indexes (including an index to Scripture references and an index to the Annotations), as well as a select bibliography on Christian perfection. This book does enhance the reading of Wesley’s text - but its greatest weakness is that it fails to show clearly that Wesley compiled the Plain Account from a number of his earlier writings. This is the first of a projected 3-volume set by Olson under the general heading of ‘John Wesley’s Christian Perfection Library’. Volume 2, ‘Studies in History and Doctrine’ is expected later this year, and volume 3, ‘Systematic Formulation’, in 2007. It is fair to say that, as interesting as Olsen’s book is, it has not replaced the need we still have for the long awaited arrival of the volume of the Bicentennial Edition of Wesley’s Works that will deal with Wesley’s A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
Recapturing the Wesleys’ Vision: An Introduction to the Faith of John and Charles Wesley by Paul Wesley Chilcote. (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Illinois, 2004. pp 126. £7. pbk. ISBN 0-8308-2743-9). This third book is a delightful and informative read. In four chapters the author deals with the essential gospel preached by John and Charles Wesley, the fellowship they established for their people, the teaching and learning programmes instituted for converts and the place of the sacraments in early ‘Methodist’ worship. There are many references both to John’s writings and Charles’ hymns.
© The Wesley Fellowship 2006