The Method of the Methodists!
I was investigating the forms of breviary on the internet the other day (as one does!) and in a page about the history of the Anglican breviary, here.
Regular praying of the Divine Office was likewise central to John and Charles Wesley’s “method,” which included scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. John Wesley’s Rule of Life is, in its essentials, thoroughly orthodox and Catholic. It has been said that if Wesley had only been born in 1803 rather than 1703, he would have been a follower of those great Oxford divines — John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and Hurrell Froude — who by their preaching and Tracts turned the Church of England to its apostolic and sacramental roots.
Indeed, it was those 19th century “Tractarians” who kindled new interest in the pre-Reformation forms of celebrating the Holy Eucharist and daily prayer. In the mid and late nineteenth century, the Anglican Church in England and America witnessed nothing less than a Catholic Revival, including the rebirth of organized religious orders, renewed emphasis upon and appreciation for the Episcopate and Priesthood, the Sacraments, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Communion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
As someone who grew up going to Methodist church and whose great grandfather was a Methodist lay preacher, I found this staggering. I had heard about John Wesley’s ‘method’ that gave the name to the Methodists, but no one every talked about what it actually was.
Clearly as a Catholic I do not now believe that Methodists and high Anglicans actually had the Real Presence at the heart of their churches, but it does suggest, if the writer of the history referred to above is correct, that so much of the strength of these two church movements was down to a devotion to the Divine Office. It was said, for example, that it was the rise of the Methodists in England that stoppedsocial upheaval of the sort that lead to the French Revolution. The Anglican church was responsible, in my opinion for the gothic revival which shaped the culture of the 19th century in Britain and America so strongly (as I described in a recent article, here) (Read More)