Sex Scandal Plagues Methodist Founders

Monday, March 22 [1736] While I was persuading Mr Welch not to concern himself in this disturbance, I heard Mrs Hawkins cry out: Murder! and walked away. Returning out of the woods, I was informed by Mr Welch that poor blockhead Mrs Welch had joined with Mrs Hawkins and the Devil in Kentheir slanders of me. I would not believe it till half the town told me the same, and exclaimed against her ingratitude.

From: Methodism founder Charles Wesley’s secret code diary cracked by priest -Times Online

 

Who would have known that something as innocent as Charles Wesley’s diary could generate ‘tabloid’ type headlines. Yet, that is what I find as I do a search for Wesley’s diary. It took Professor Kenneth Newport nine years to transcribe the 1000 page manuscript. The code, it seems, was based on John Byrom’s, an 18th Century poet, who published New Universal Shorthand in 1940. This was about 4 years after Wesley used it (or an adaptation of it) for his journal.

It makes sense that Charles would code his diary using something. After all, sexual allegations are not good for someone trying to reform the church. Some of the allegation sound a little far fetched to me however. According to the DailyMail.co.uk:

“A section reveals Mr Oglethorpe told Charles: ‘She came crying to me with complaints that you had confined her husband by keeping him three days under a tree, and come to bed with her’.

Charles fiercely denied the allegations  –  but also had to face taunts that he had sex with a maid.

He wrote that a pair of colonists shouted out to him as he strolled along in conversation with the maid: ‘There goes the parson with his whore. I saw her and him were under the bushes.'”

I have a hard time believing that Charles would have been able to trap a woman’s husband under a tree for three days. Also, if that were the case, why didn’t he come complaining to Mr. Oglethorpe (the mayor, I believe)? I’m not saying it didn’t happen (Charles said it didn’t), I’m just saying I have a hard time believing it. Yet, then, as well as today, people are more than ready to believe scandal, especially with those who are trying to call people to a higher calling in Christ. It happened then….it still happens today. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised.

I am really interested in reading this when it comes out. It will give us insights into John and Charles’ relationship, their struggles, the pressures they were under and also remind us of the power of God to work through us and in spite of us.

You might also want to check out Ben Witherington’s blog post too!

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