Wesley's writings and compilations were important factors in his evangelistic work. Knowing ignorance to be a sturdy foe to godliness, he used the press as an auxiliary of the pulpit from the very beginning of his itinerant career to the day of his death. He consecrated his pen to the great purpose nt Ins life. He had the ability to win a high reputation as an elegant writer; but, despising the mere praise of men, he wrote, as he preached, in the style and manner he believed best adapted to win men to Christ. His most important productions were his Sermons, numbering one hundred and forty-one. They are remarkable for the terseness and purity of their style, in which not a word is wasted; the transparency and compactness of their thoughts; and a logical force which is not subtle, but the fruit of a “keen, clear insight.” A first series of his Sermons was published in 1771: — his Translation of the New Testament, with Notes (Lond[on],1755), which won approval from many eminent scholars: the text for “many happy corrections of the Authorized Version:” the notes for conciseness, spirituality, acuteness, and soundness of opinion: — his Journals, which portray, as in a mirror, the course of his remarkable life, and are exceedingly curious and entertaining. The first part was issued in 1739: nineteen more parts at irregular intervals: — his appeals, entitled An Earnest Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion (written in 1744), and A Further Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion (published 1744-45, 3 pts.). These masterly appeals arcacute, searching, and powerful in thought, forcible in style, and singularly tender in spirit: — his Treatise on Original Sin, in reply to Dr. Taylor, of Norwich, which was so conclusive that the doctor never attempted to answer it, though he promptly replied to every other writer who controverted his opinions. Besides these works, Wesley wrote many controversial articles, which were published separately. In 1778 he began a monthly magazine (The Arminian Magazine), which he continued to the end of his life.
He also wrote a Church History (in 4 vols.): — a History of England (in 4 vols.): — a Compendium of Natural Philosophy: — a Dictionary of the English Language: — separate Grammars of the English, French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages: — a Compendium of Logic, etc. His original prose works filled fourteen closely printed volumes; his commentaries, compilations, and abridgments form a list of one hundred and nineteen publications in prose, one of which, entitled A Christian Library, contained fifty volumes.
Besides these prose works, he published fifty-two separate works in poetry, the joint productions of himself and his brother Charles; and, lastly, five publications on music, and collections of tunes. That all this literary work should have been accomplished by a man whose life, for half a century, was a series of journeys, is an astonishing fact. "Looking at his travelling." remarks Tyernaan, "the marvel is how he found time to write; and, looking at his books, the marvel is how he found time to preach." An edition of his principal prose works is published by the Methodist Book Concern (N. Y.) in seven octavo volumes.
Last modified 30 April 2010