After much hesitation, caused by grave doubts as to whether the ministry of the Gospel was his proper vocation, Wesley had sought and obtained ordination as a deacon by the hands of Bishop Potter in September, 1725. The same prelate ordained him priest in 1728. From 1725 to 1729 his time was spent partly at Epworth, as his father's curate, and partly at Oxford; but in the latter year his college authorithes insisting on his residence at Oxford, he returned thither and devoted himself to the duties of his fellowship. In 1735, on the death of Ins father, he was strongly urged by his relatives to take the necessary steps for securing the vacant Epworth rectorship, Believing that he could be more useful at Oxford than at Epworth, he only yielded to the' wishes of his friends so far as to make an indirect application for the living (Tyerman, Wesley, i, 102,103). He was probably pleased to learn that it was given to another. Yet in October of the same year his convictions respecting his duty to remain at, Oxford were so modified that he was persuaded to go with general Oglethorpe as a missionary to Georgia.
John Wesley by Samuel Manning the Younger. [Click on thumbnail for larger image.]
Wesley spent two years and almost four months in Georgia, faithfully preaching to the colonists: but finding no opportunity to reach tlie Indians, as he had hoped to do, and seeing but scant fruit from his labors in Savannah and adjacent settlements, he returned to England in 1738. His ascetic habits, his extreme ritualistic practices, his rigid administration of Church discipline, his vigorous method of dealing with prevailing vices in the pulpit, and his highly cultivated and refined nature were not suited to win the sympathy of those rude, self-seeking colonists. Had his character and preaching been softened by that evangelical experience which he subsequently obtained, his missionary work in America would probably have been more productive. Nevertheless, it was eminently beneficial to himself: and after his departure the people of Savannah, reflecting on what he had said and done among. them, generally admitted his great worth, and lamented his absence as a serious loss to the colony.
Wesley wa.s now nearly thirty-five years of age, and, except in academic circles at Oxford, was almost an unknown man. No signs of the great celebrity to which; he was destined had yet appeared; but his hour was at hand. He was about to receive that spiritual baptism. which was the pivotal fact in his career, but for which it is quite probable he would have spent his life in the gratification of his scholastic tastes, quietly performing the duthes of his fellowship within the walls of Lincoln College, at Oxford. Wesley's special work was the fruit of his religious experience, to which we will now direct the reader's attention.
Last modified 9 July 2011