Some have described Charles Wesley as the “first Methodist.” They point out that he was the one who first brought together a group of like-minded Christians to the “Holy Club” at Oxford. Three days before his brother John’s famous experience of feeling his heart “strangely warmed,” Charles had a “strange palpitation of heart.”
Richard P. Heitzenrater challenges the historicity and logic of this view. He notes that though Charles formed a small group at Oxford, it was not the one known later as the “Holy Club” First in chronology does not mean first in leadership. Charles usually deferred to John’s leadership.1
Nevertheless Charles Wesley has not been given as much credit as he should receive. Today people are much more familiar with some of Charles Wesley’s hymns than with John Wesley’s sermons.
Charles Wesley not only wrote hundreds of hymns, a number of which are still sung today, but he was also a poet. He was one of the most prolific poets in the English language.