The Life of John Wesley portrays the founder of Methodism against a vividly rendered backdrop of the religious, social, and political landscape of eighteenth-century England. Through the power of his personality and the strength of his faith, Wesley became the leader of the English religious revival that arose in opposition to the established Anglican Church, and his theology continues to have an impact on religions worldwide.
Roy Hattersley follows Wesley’s spiritual journey, tracing his constant, often agonizing attempts to define the nature of virtue as well as the path to sanctity. The story of Wesley’s theological progress is vastly enriched by Hattersley’s revealing portrait of Wesley’s complex personality. A genuine scholar, Wesley published more work than any other author of the eighteenth century. He possessed phenomenal energy, traveling huge distances to preach and proselytize. Wesley practiced, as Hattersley writes, “every form of personal discipline (diet, exercise, carefully planned day) except emotional restraint.” This candid account of Wesley’s relationship with women—falling desperately in love three times in his life, each time failing to make his intentions clear, and eventually ending up in a disastrous marriage—brilliantly brings to life Wesley’s human side, largely ignored in previous reverential biographies.
A wonderful synthesis of personal, social, and spiritual biography, The Life of John Wesley sheds new light on the variety of things that motivated one of the most interesting and significant figures in religious history.
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