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Finding Wesley

Finding Wesley

The 21st Century Find of an 18th Century Treasure

The Background

In the corner of the living room at my childhood home, a built-in, oak bookcase prominently displayed my grandfather’s complete 13-volume, clothbound set of The Works of John Wesley. I am a third-generation Nazarene, so I was raised with a distinct appreciation for Wesley’s vital contributions to our Holiness doctrine. 

The Discovery

Recently, I purchased a rare, first-edition copy of John Wesley’s A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion through a vintage collector auction. I’m sure my grandfather would have spent countless hours turning the pages of this 272-year-old treasure, printed in 1745 when Wesley was 42 years old. 

A Farther Appeal is historically significant for three primary reasons. First, it was arguably Wesley’s first major work prescribed for laypeople and clergy. Secondly, it was published the year following the first Methodist Convention. So, it includes a poignant historicity of Wesley’s early influence to the galvanized sect. Thirdly, it vividly reflects Wesley’s emotional panache for which he would be scorned by his contemporary disparagers and praised by his emerging followers.

The book I acquired is particularly rare because it includes only Part I, containing the original 104 pages Wesley penned. Parts II (1745) and III (1746) of A Farther Appeal would be released later comprising an additional 139 pages. The three parts collectively formed the popularized account of Wesley’s Appeals. 

The Legacy

In the 45 years following A Farther Appeal, Wesley continued to write hundreds of sermons and letters, and several more books. John Wesley’s writings are among the most influential exposes in the formation of the Church of the Nazarene.

Jonathan Downs is the Chair of the Center for Accelerated and Professional Education at MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Jan/Feb 2018

Please note: This article was originally published in January 2018. All facts, figures, and titles were accurate to the best of our knowledge at that time but may have since changed.