knew George Whitefield from the days of the Holy Club.
Whitefield had had a similar conversion experience to the Wesleys a
few years earlier, and had gone on to preach in large open-air
Wesley preached the first of his open-air sermons at
Whitefield's invitation in Bristol in 1739. As an Oxford don and an
ordained Church of England minister, Wesley had a reverence
for the 'proper' places of worship and was uneasy
about preaching in the open air.
But since many working class people often
felt excluded from the churches, 'field preaching' became a
key feature of the Methodist Revival. More and more preachers were
trained, and either travelled around like Wesley, or remained
Wesley went on to spend his life travelling the country,
preaching to crowds on village greens, at pitheads, wherever he
could find people to listen. During his lifetime he travelled
an estimated 250,000 miles and preached 40,000 times.
His sermons appealed to people's hearts and minds, and were
experienced as deeply personal messages by those who
listened. They reached many who felt alienated from the
Church because of their emphasis on God's freely-given
forgiveness and love for all.
Wesley's published Sermons became and remain the doctrinal
standard of the Methodist Church.
Watch a recreation of two of Wesley's famous sermons -
'Thoughts on war' and 'Lay not up treasures'.
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