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Preaching from His Father's Grave

July 19, 2023

Preaching @ St. Andrews Church

Photo of John Wesley's Father's tomb @ St Andrews Church, Epworth, England.

John Wesley was deeply changed by his experience of an assurance of salvation @ Aldersgate.  One such change that Wesley experienced might be that he now served God now as a son and not a servant.  For, Wesley had served God faithfully for years before 1738 but his labor and service was that of one who did not have assurance of acceptance with or from God

One area of change for Wesley was in his work with others in the revival that was sweeping England, Ireland, and Scotland.  These eruptions of revival were the result of faithful people preaching the Gospel inside and outside church buildings.  Moreover, this preaching inside and outside the church had much to do with the fact the leaders of the individual churches and the bishops of The Church of England often looked upon these preachers with disdain and suspicion.  The net result was that many of the revival preachers were denied opportunity to preach in a Church of England building.  Wesley was hesitant at first to preach outside of a church and had come to believe in the practice of preaching outside the church building slowly under the encouragement and example of his friend George Whitefield.

One such example of his willingness to preach outside a church in the open air was when he went home to Epworth in June of 1742.  He, being an ordained priest of The Church of England, offered the curate at the church of Saint Andrews, to assist in reading prayers from the Book of Common Prayer or to preach.  This was no unreasonable offer because John had assisted his father who had been the pastor of this very church for some 40 years before his father’s death.

Many people had come to church that day to hear Wesley preach so he decided  that if he would not be welcome to preach inside the church building he would come back to the church graveyard and preach upon his father’s tomb that evening @ 6 pm.  He stated that though he could be prevented from preaching inside the church he could not be stopped from preaching on land outside the church that belonged to his family, his fathers tomb (photo above). The crowds were so large that he preached each night that week to the gathered crowds.

Wesley was determined to preach inside the church and outside the church if need be to bring the glad tidings of the assurance of salvation to people.  His own journey to assurance motivated him to share these glad tidings with all he could.  Could it be said of you and I that we have experienced God’s goodness to us in such measure that we too desired to tell others?  Something to consider.