Birthdays on December 18
Lyman Abbott, a Congregational clergyman who was a leading proponent of the social gospel, is born in Massachusetts. Prompted by his admiration of Henry Ward Beecher to enter the ministry, he succeeded Beecher as pastor at Brooklyn's Plymouth Congregational Church.
Charles Wesley was born in Epworth, England. The 18th child of an Anglican pastor, Charles followed his older brother John to Oxford in 1726. The Wesleys and their friends formed "The Holy Club." The group was derisively dubbed "Methodists" for their methodical forms of personal piety. Charles underwent a spiritual conversion May 20, 1738, three days before John's heart "was strangely warmed" at Aldersgate. Charles composed more than 6,500 hymns, such as "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," "And Can It Be" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." On the last day of his earthly life, March 29, 1788, he wrote his last hymn, "In Age and Feebleness extreme."