I finished Wesley's Journal impressed with his physical endurance, his austere lifestyle, and his absolute devotion to the clusters of believers springing up all over Britain. But I could not help noting Wesley's lack of appreciation for the beauties and cultural riches that abound in that island nation.
Gazing at a lovely flower garden, he quickly demurred, "What can delight always but the knowledge and love of God?" He toured one of England's historic great houses and noted, "How little a time will it be before the house itself, yea, the earth shall be burned up!" And after marveling at the talents of a blind organist he added, "But what is he the better for all this, if he is still 'without God in the world'?"
Even the British Museum failed to make an impression. After remarking on its collections, Wesley wrote, "But what account will a man give to the judge of the quick and dead for a life spent in collecting all these?"
In short, Wesley viewed the common graces of beauty and culture with an attitude approaching disdain. More than once I wrote in the margin, "Lighten up, John!" (But by the standards of ascetics who lived atop poles and ate only bread and water, John Wesley himself was an aesthete.)
I've got to admit, Wesley had a point. So does Yancey. I'm not sure where is the balancing point between these two conflicting values. Further thoughts here.
Hat tip to Jay Voorhees at the Methoblog.