(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Women of Purity: Susanna Wesley
By Selma Komisky
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
– Proverbs 31:28 (NIV)
Susanna Annesley Wesley was born on January 20, 1669, the twenty-fifth and last child of reverend Dr. Samuel and Mary White Annesley. With devout Puritan parents, Susanna grew up loving and serving God. It was evident that Susanna inherited rich godly qualities from both her parents.
Susanna left her father’s church at age 13 and joined the official Church of England. She later married at the young age of 19 to Samuel Wesley, after he had finished his studies at Oxford and was ordained into the Church of England.
Susanna bore nineteen children, and nine of these died in infancy. She was often sick, perhaps due to repeated pregnancy or other causes. But she carried on. Susanna focused on her children and felt that their upbringing and education was her first and most important concern.
Susanna began a school in her house. Classes were conducted six days a week. The only day free from school was the Sabbath. Each day began with prayer and Psalms and each child was taught to read from the Bible by the age of five. She taught the children discipline, helping mold their character. Susanna played an instrumental part in the lives of her children. She instructed them daily to take care of their soul, as well as learning to shun all vicious practices and bad examples.
The Wesley’s suffered illness, disease, poverty, and the deaths of many of their children. Fire twice destroyed their home and they had marital problems. Samuel’s estrangement for twelve months took a toll on their relationship and it was never the same. Samuel Wesley was always in debt and the frequent absences of her husband on church business left the management of the household in her hands. Despite her worries about her ability to parent alone, Susanna poured herself into her role. She valued her children. Susanna made it her practice to spend individual time with each child – time needed to talk, to listen, to encourage, and to teach.
Life had brought trial after trial and disappointment and tragedy for Susanna. However, through it all, she remained a steadfast Christian. She was able to persevere only because of her daily trust in God and walk with Christ, praying, and spending time in the word no matter how hard life was.
Her sons, John and Charles Wesley, were powerhouses for the glory of the Lord and became some of the most influential men of their time. John Wesley preached to nearly a million people in his day. At the age of 70, he delivered the gospel message of salvation to 32,000 people – without the use of a microphone! He brought revival everywhere he traveled! His brother Charles wrote over 9000 hymns, which are so theologically rich and many are still sung today. They are famously known for being the catalyst to the Methodist movement and brought revival in the first Great Awakening.
The interesting thing about these two men is that the primary spiritual influence in their lives up until her death was their mother. She was the one who, even toward the end of her life, when she was elderly and in bed, they would go to and pray with.
She was so proud of her children. She didn’t live long enough to see all the fruit of her faithfulness for being a godly mother. Her sons won tens of thousands of souls for Christ.
Susanna Wesley ran her race well and never gave up. She endured to the very end. Wesley was a good example of a godly woman, pastor’s wife, and mother. She depended on God to get her through her hard circumstances and persevered no matter what came her way. She leaned on the Lord for her strength. She died on July 23, 1742 at the age of 74 and was buried in London’s Bunhill Fields, where John Bunyan and Isaac Watts are also buried. Her legacy lives on in Christian history.