Lost in wonder, love and praise
"In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind..." John 1.4
The notion of being "lost in wonder, love and praise" epitomises the way in which the Wesley brothers, Charles and John, responded to the Enlightenment context in which they were raised. Rather than go along with the reductionist instincts of science and philosophy, in their endeavour to understand and quantify everything, the Wesleys allowed the insights of contemporary science and philosophy to find poetic and worshipful expression in an explosion of devotional and evangelical proclamation.
The trajectory of their lives followed a similar course in their early years: a double conversion, first to seriousness and then to evangelicalism, and an energetic phase of itinerant, outdoor preaching. Thereafter their paths diverged as Charles married and settled down to a long and fruitful season as a happily married family man and parish minister, while John continued to exert himself through increasingly demanding preaching tours and a (perhaps not surprisingly) decreasingly happy domestic situation. Yet in spite of their different methods, John and Charles remained as devoted and influential in their faith, countering the secularising spirit of the Enlightenment with a fresh appreciation of the union of transcendent glory and personal transformation, which are the free gift of the Holy Spirit.
Professor Bruce Hindmarsh of Regent College demonstrates how Charles Wesley manages to pack his hymns and poems with pure scripture and biblical doctrine, while maintaining their freshness and originality. Perhaps that explains their enduring appeal? We still sing classics like 'And can it be...', 'Love divine...' and 'O, for a thousand tongues...' as if they speak for our own generation. And the fact that they do confirms their vitality: a term which expresses the fundamental conviction of the dynamic duo, Charles and John - that old and new creation, as well as planets and the creatures which inhabit them, are all alike created, sustained and recreated by God, who is not detached and remote but intimately present and active, while being ultimately and eternally transcendent too.