John and Charles Wesley were born in
Epworth, Lincolnshire, into the large family of Samuel and Susanna
Wesley (of about nineteen children, three sons and seven daughters
survived). Both parents were devout and strongminded people.
Samuel had been raised in a Dissenting academy,
but became a high church Anglican and was Rector of the parish at
Epworth. He was a man of faith and spoke of 'the inward witness' as
'the strongest proof of Christianity.'
Susanna Wesley, who seems to have had a
considerable influence over John, raised and educated her enormous
family with great competence and discipline - the children had 6
hours of home schooling a day. She also found time, during one of
Samuel's absences, to set up a Sunday afternoon house group in the
rectory kitchen, which eventually attracted 200 people.
Samuel had a turbulent relationship with his
flock and when in 1709 the rectory was destroyed by fire, some
speculated that disgruntled parishioners might have been
John Wesley, who was six at the time of the fire,
was caught in the house but was rescued from an upstairs window.
This gave rise to a belief in his family that he had been spared
for some special purpose, and later John used to refer to himself
as 'a brand plucked from the burning'. This literal event was a
powerful image of having been saved 'from the wrath to come'.
- Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you
test teste text text