A while back, I debated with a friend about the Wesley’s omission (from the Thirty-Nine Articles) of Article 17, On Predestination. My major point was classical Arminians, like Wesley, had no quarrel with Predestination or Election (given God’s foreknowledge). Rather, their omission owed to the sharpness of party division making Predestination an, all to often, occasion for controversy. Wesleyans agreed with the Article, though emphasizing particulars related to ‘calling’–“they through grace obey the calling”– rather than assuming too much about “decreed by his counsel secret to us”. Accordingly, when Wesley sent his Abridged Version of the Articles to America, aka. the 25-Articles, with his Sunday Service and Collection of Hymns, he kept only what he believed essential to doctrine and preaching. Continue reading
Wesley’s two tracts, An Earnest Appeal & A Farther Appeal, both defend methodists from common charges of enthusiasm and schism. Indeed, John Wesley produced a multitude of apologetics, found nearly in all his writings, against these accusations, especially when blamed for separating from the church. Probably the foremost evidence that Wesley intended the methodists to stay within the Church is found in his 1743 General Rule where the Society is expected to be diligent in attending all public services, especially Holy Communion. Given Wesley’s example was for all his preachers, we can assume he was talking about the Established Church. In both Appeals, Wesley would rather have detractors judge his people by their fruit rather than by hearsay, crediting increased attendance at parishes as proof that Methodism benefited the common weal. Continue reading
“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”– a contrite evangelical saying but evidently an old idea going at least back to the English civil wars but likely ancient. Besides the colloquially contains several dense theological concepts. I was surprised to find the idea in Mr. Benson’s commentary on Ephesians chapter 4, verse 26 and then cross referenced with Christ’s anger at the pharisees for their contempt of the Father’s mercy as well as his divine person. Below are several quotations illustrating Benson’s high regard of Anglican writers as well as a similar reference found in the Rev. Allestree’s Whole Duty of Man, an interregnum text. Continue reading
In an earlier post on Wesleyan Degrees of Love we spoke about the practical application of Christian charity (e.g., doing good all men’s souls) as it pertained to the Methodist people. The second-half of the same essay then covered Anglican opinion Benevolence, mapping out an older view of Love as it was often constrained by Duty. One of my favorite methodist commentators (next to Dr. Clarke) is the so-called church Methodist, Joseph Benson. Mr. Benson resisted the administration of sacraments among methodist preachers as well as venturing an earlier project with Dr. Fletcher make the Wesleyite Connexion subsidiary to the Church of England. Consequently, Benson gives much privy to Anglican opinion. In this case, he provides us further insight on God’s universal Love, though by Degree, by the scriptural verses,”I loved Jacob, And Esau I hated”. Continue reading
In the course of examining the grievances of mid-19th century Evangelicals in the Protestant Episcopal Church, especially their concerns with the Prayer Book, I ran across Wesley’s possible influence on the 1785/89 Liturgy. Whatever proof remains of this influence may very well boil down to a correct rendition of dates. This is likely a work in progress. Continue reading
Many volumes could be written on Wesley’s relation to the Church of England (indeed much has been had), and while Wesley’s declared loyalty to the Church is without doubt, the attitude and actions of his people and their preachers was sometimes less clear. It appears there was something of a change in opinion about the Church among methodists as the 18th century passed.
Likewise, at a relatively early date, Wesley is fairly optimistic about the ‘glory of the methodists’. In his 1745 “A Farther Appeal”, Wesley dismisses accusations against the Evangelical Revival for schism, mentioning the sense zealotry for the Church spread by methodism. Of societal members, Wesley mentions four types that commune with the Anglican pale:
Among the several groupings of methodists from Britain, the Wesleyans were distinct for their discipline or form of organization, namely, the class meeting. While George Whitfield’s fame has been passed to us by his incredible gift of public oration, John Wesley’s legacy was secured by the formation of the United Societies and their rather systematic monitoring life and manners.
For the Wesleyans, religious monitoring required the keeping of class papers by lay-leaders. Lay-leaders typically were charged with classes of no more than twelve members. In his class book, the lay-leader would tabulate the spiritual grace of each member, drawing tables with ledgers and rows that registered the progress of each soul.