On October 21st, 1726, the young Fellow returned to Oxford. His description of Lincoln College shows how congenial were his new surroundings. Dr. Morley was his friend, and the twelve Fellows formed a pleasant little society. “Wesley’s room,” with a vine creeping round the window, known as “Wesley’s vine,” is still pointed out to visitors.~ His reputation as a scholar and a man of literary taste was now established in the University. On November 6th he was chosen Greek lecturer and moderator of the classes. Dr. Whitehead says that his skill in logic was universally known and admired. H He proceeded Master of Arts on February 14th, 1727, and acquired considerable reputation in his disputation for his degree. He told Henry Moore that he delivered three lectures on the occasion, one on natural philosophy, entitled, “De Anima Brutorum;” one on moral philosophy, “De Julio Cesare;” a third on religion, “De Amore Dei.”
The Rev. Andrew Clarke, of Lincoln College, has kindly supplied the following particulars of Wesley’s connection with that college.t On May 6th, 1726, he was nominate by the Sub-rector to preach the sermon at St. Michael’ Church on St. Michael’s Day, which was always delivered by one of the Fellows. Wesley was nominated again in 1732. He was appointed Claviger (or keeper of one of the three keys of the treasury) on November 6th, 1726; and again in 1731, each time for a twelvemonth. From 1726 to 1730 he was lecturer in logic; from 1726 to 1728, and again from 1729 to 1734, lecturer in Greek; from 1730 to 1735, lecturer in philosophy. All these appointments date from November 6th. On May 6th in three different years,—1737, 1743, and 1749,—Wesley was nominated by the Sub-rector to preach the sermon by a Fellow in All Saints’ Church, on the dedication festival of that church. In 1731, 1737, and 1743, he was chosen, with another Fellow, to preach the Lent Sermons at Combe Lingu, Oxon. In 1737 Wesley was in Georgia, but the sermons might be preached by a substitute. The Pocket Guide for Oxford in 1747 says that Lincoln College had its Rector, twelve Fellows,’ nine scholars, twenty exhibitioners, and about seventy other students.
After taking his Master’s degree Wesley felt that his time was more at his own disposal. Hitherto the University curriculum had been the guide of his studies. Now he was able to follow the plan of work which he had marked out for himself. He had fully come over to his mother’s opinion that there were many truths that it was not worth while to know. He even laid aside a controversy between Bishop Hoadly and Bishop Atterbury when he had reached the middle of it. “I thought the labour of twenty or thirty hours, if I was sure of succeeding, which I was not, would be but ill rewarded by that important
The Fellows of Lincoln were required to take orders within a year, and to secure their B.D. degree within seven years after they became M.A. Wesley escaped the obligation to proceed as Bachelor of Divinity. John Crosby, treasurer of Lincoln Cathedral in 1476, founded a fellowship which required its holder to study canon law and take a degree in that faculty. After the Reformation the degree in civil law took its place. When a Fellow found it inconvenient to take his B.D. he was elected to this canonist fellowship, which he held till he had taken his B.D. After Dr. Morley vacated this, in 1703, eight other Fellows had held it from three to five years each. On July 13th, 1736, when in Georgia, Wesley was elected to it. He would not give it up, as he did not wish to take his B.D., and held it till The result was that he was the junior in college standing of all Fellows who took the degree. These facts explain Wesley’s inquiry on June i8th, 1741, about “the exercises previous to the degree of Bachelor in Divinity.”
Though admitted Fellow on March 28th, 1726, Wesley, according to custom, received nothing for half a year. On September 28th, his first “commons” was paid. This was 1s. 4d. per week when in residence. In 1731 and 1732 he received piece of knowledge whether Bishop Hoadly had understood Bishop Atterbury or no.” *
The quiet life at Wroote was broken in upon by a letter from Dr. Morley, dated October 2 1st, 1729. He told Wesley that it was felt necessary, in order to discipline and good government, that the junior Fellows who were chosen Moderators should personally attend to the duties of their office unless they could get some other Fellow to preside for them. Mr. Hutchins had been kind enough to promise to take Mr. Fenton’s place, so that he might not be compelled to give up his perpetual curacy; Mr. Robinson would have supplied Wesley’s, but he had to serve two cures fourteen miles distant from Oxford, and the roads for ten miles at least were as bad as those around Epworth. “We hope,” says the Rector, “it may be as much for your advantage to reside at college as where you are, if you take pupils, or can get a curacy in the neighbourhood of Oxon. Your father may certainly have another curate, though not so much to his satisfaction; yet we are persuaded that this will not move him to hinder your return to college, since the interest of college and obligation to statute requires it.” This letter brought Wesley back to Oxford, to become the head of the Methodist movement in the University.
WESLEY returned to Oxford on November 22nd, 1729. Dr. Morley’s letter had suggested that he might take pupils or a curacy. He himself put eleven pupils under Wesley’s care immediately after his return, and in this work he continued until his mission to Georgia. Dr. Morley died on June 12th, 1731, and was succeeded by Dr. Isham on July 9th. The journal for 1776 * shows what a zealous tutor Wesley was. “In the English colleges,” he says, “every one may reside all the year, as all my pupils did; and I should have thought myself little better than a highwayman if I had not lectured them every day in the year but Sundays.” In later years he sometimes read lectures to his preachers on theology, logic, and rhetoric, in much the same manner as with his pupils at the University. As a tutor he was singularly diligent and careful, and laboured earnestly to make those under his charge both scholars and Christians.t
It will have been observed that Wesley was called to Oxford to preside at Moderations. Public disputation formed a large part in the University training of those days. The Moderator was the chairman and arbitrator at such discussions. At Lincoln College these exercises were held every day, so that the junior Fellow gained a thorough grasp of all the niceties of formal logic, which proved invaluable to him amid the heated and often captious controversies of later days. 1-le gratefully refers to this training in a well-known passage of his works. “For several years I was Moderator in the disputations which were held six times a week at Lincoln College in Oxford. I could not avoid acquiring hereby some degree of expertness in arguing, and especially in discerning and pointing out well-covered and plausible fallacies. I have since found abundant reason to praise God for giving me this honest art. By this, when men have hedged me in by what they call demonstrations, I have been many times able to dash them in pieces, in spite of all its covers, to touch the very point where the fallacy lay; and it flew open in a moment.”*
NOTE: Wesley spent two years at Wroot working for his father. Then he was called back to Lincoln College … what was life at Lincoln College like?
The quote above is from The Life of John Wesley by John Telford – Chapter4, EARLIER YEARS AT OXFORD, AND CURACY AT WROOTE, 1720—1729 and is found at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-life-of-john-wesley-by-john-telford/the-life-of-john-wesley-by-john-telford-chapter-4/. And
The quote above is from The Life of John Wesley by John Telford – 5, OXFORD METHODISM and is found at http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-life-of-john-wesley-by-john-telford/the-life-of-john-wesley-by-john-telford-chapter-5/. Copyright © 1993-2011. Wesley Center for Applied Theology, c/o Northwest Nazarene University. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 1993-2011. Wesley Center for Applied Theology, c/o Northwest Nazarene University. All Rights Reserved.