Susanna Wesley (book review)

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I think most people are familiar with the saying, “Behind every good man there is a good woman.” In the case of Samuel and Susanna Wesley almost the opposite is true: Susanna excelled as a godly mother despite the obstinacy and shortcomings of her husband Samuel. Arnold A. Dallimore delivers a fair overview of their lives in his biography of Susanna Wesley. 

Rev. Dallimore does an admirable job of telling Susanna’s story through the first person accounts of almost all of the Wesley family members. He has culled through the historical records, reading the letters of Samuel, Susanna, their children, and their relatives to give us a fairly unbiased look at this notable family. The subtitle of the book is, “The mother of John and Charles Wesley,” which is no small gift to the world! The preaching and song-writing ministries of these two brothers has had a huge impact on both the secular and church worlds, which is still being felt today. 

Samuel Wesley at times was distant from his family, to the extent of even abandoning them for a period of time, and was a very poor provider for his family. They were constantly in debt and struggling for the basic necessities. But despite these obstacles, Susanna created her own curriculum to instruct her children, and continued to correspond with them into their adulthood to give them her motherly wisdom. 

What a debt of gratitude we owe to this godly woman for not only persevering but thriving in the face of challenges that would have thwarted most people. And we also should be grateful to Arnold Dallimore for his well-researched biography of this amazing woman. 

(I previously reviewed Rev. Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield.) 

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George Whitefield (book review)

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The ministry of George Whitefield in both the British Isles and the American colonies is still unequaled today. Of very few men could it be said that they both initiated a revival and put mechanisms in place for the long-range growth of the church in two entirely different cultures. Arnold Dallimore captures this well in his biography George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century. 

Previously, I read and reviewed J.C. Ryle’s biography of George Whitefield. Bishop Ryle wrote this book to correct some of the maliciously untrue reports that were circulating about Whitefield. Rev. Dallimore’s book has the benefit of more years of history in which to test the assertions of Bishop Ryle. The result is a well-rounded work that takes us through the beginning of Whitefield’s ministry, his maturing thoughts and practices, and the lasting legacy that is still being felt today. 

Rev. Dallimore does address some of the same falsehoods that Bishop Ryle sought to debunk, but he goes farther to give us a sweeping overview of the tireless and highly effective ministry Whitefield undertook for nearly all of his life. Students of church history will definitely want to add this excellent book to their library. 

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