You’ve probably heard the story of John Wesley’s heart strangely warmed, but Charles Wesley’s conversion is definitely worth knowing about. Charles had pretty intense bouts of a sickness called pleurisy. It affected his stamina in ministry, but he realized that he was afraid to die. John and Charles had spent a lot of time with a Moravian named Peter Bohler. Bohler was concerned that the brothers relied on their knowledge and good works for their hope instead of in a personal faith that Christ died “for me.” Bohler prayed for Charles’ fears and illness and told him that he would not die now, offering further comfort and wonder at the assurance this man had. Bohler left Charles reading Luther’s commentary on Galatians, and Charles was particularly struck by Luther’s repeated emphasis on the personal pronouns…Christ’s death “for me.” Mostly, he was shocked that Bohler wasn’t telling him anything new.
An important part of the story that I couldn’t fit in today’s comic was the actual day of Charles’ conversion. On Pentecost Sunday, bedridden in sickness, Charles was moved to pray a prayer of confidence in the Holy Spirit’s comforting presence. Then while half asleep, her heard the voice of one of his caregivers say, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thy infirmities.” Believing Christ had commanded her to speak this to him, Charles discussed and prayed with those in his house until he felt “by degrees [God] chased away the darkness of my unbelief.” Charles felt renewed and his music and ministry took bold steps from that moment on.
Never one to be left out, John had his heart strangely warmed three days later at Aldersgate.
The smash hit, “O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing” was written a year later, and is a celebration of the anniversary of Charles’ conversion.