Wesley's Essential Readings
A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.
Bristol: William Pine, 1766. (BRA0183)
From its very beginnings the Methodist tradition has embraced books and reading. In A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, John Wesley (1703–1791) recounted “the steps by which I was led during the course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian Perfection.” Here, the founder of Methodism recalled that his religious outlook was rooted in six books that he had read as a young man: Jeremy Taylor’s Rule and Excercises of Holy Living (1650) and his Rule and Excercises of Holy Dying (1651); the Imitation of Christ, also known as the “Christian Pattern,” attributed to Thomas à Kempis (c. 1440); William Law’s A Practical Treatise upon Christian Perfection (1726) and A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728); and the Bible, “the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure religion.” Wesley returned to these books throughout his ministry, publishing Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament in 1755 and several editions of “extracts” from the other works, which he constantly recommended as essential readings to his followers.