LONDON (RNS) A
secret, coded diary kept by one of Methodism’s founding fathers for 20 years
has been deciphered by an Anglican priest in Britain, illuminating historical
efforts to keep Methodists in the Church of England.
The task of
decoding Charles Wesley’s handwritten 1,000-page journal took the Rev. Kenneth
Newport of Liverpool Hope University nine years, he told journalists.
brother, John, founded Methodism. Charles was a prolific hymn writer whose
works include “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
Wesley’s complicated writing omitted vowels and abbreviated consonants in a
style ascribed typical of a gentleman and preacher of the 1700s.
journal begins with his trip to America in 1736.
Wesley has always inspired me, and when I started to study his manuscripts, I
kept coming across materials written in what looked like a code of some sort. I
was determined to unlock it,” Newport said.
offers an insight into Wesley’s determination to prevent the Methodist
Societies from breaking away from the Church of England, according to the Times
detailed “disagreements with his more influential brother”
John over whether the movement should break with the
Church of England.
The two volumes
that Newport has translated make up what has been described as the first
complete transcription of the text.