Skip to content

John Wesley Makes a Couple of Interesting Points about Predestination

August 3, 2010

The following excerpts come from Wesley’s sermon “Free Grace” written in 1739.  He definitely has a way with words. 🙂 It may be somewhat arduous to get through, but the payoff is well worth it.

On Jesus Christ being deceptive:

This premised, let it be observed, that this doctrine represents our blessed Lord, “Jesus Christ the righteous,” “the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth,” as an hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity. For it cannot be denied, that he everywhere speaks as if he was willing that all men should be saved. Therefore, to say he was not willing that all men should be saved, is to represent him as a mere hypocrite and dissembler. It cannot be denied that the gracious words which came out of his mouth are full of invitations to all sinners. To say, then, he did not intend to save all sinners, is to represent him as a gross deceiver of the people. You cannot deny that he says, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden.” If, then, you say he calls those that cannot come; those whom he knows to be unable to come; those whom he can make able to come, but will not; how is it possible to describe greater insincerity? You represent him as mocking his helpless creatures, by offering what he never intends to give. You describe him as saying one thing, and meaning another; as pretending the love which his had not. Him, in “whose mouth was no guile,” you make full of deceit, void of common sincerity; — then especially, when, drawing nigh the city, He wept over it, and said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, — and ye would not;” EthelEsa — kai ouk EthelEsate. Now, if you say, they would, but he would not, you represent him (which who could hear?) as weeping crocodiles’ tears; weeping over the prey which himself had doomed to destruction!

On the uselessness of the Enemy’s work (Quite humorous actually):

This is the blasphemy for which (however I love the persons who assert it) I abhor the doctrine of predestination, a doctrine, upon the supposition of which, if one could possibly suppose it for a moment, (call it election, reprobation, or what you please, for all comes to the same thing) one might say to our adversary, the devil, “Thou fool, why dost thou roar about any longer? Thy lying in wait for souls is as needless and useless as our preaching. Hearest thou not, that God hath taken thy work out of thy hands; and that he doeth it much more effectually? Thou, with all thy principalities and powers, canst only so assault that we may resist thee; but He can irresistibly destroy both body and soul in hell! Thou canst only entice; but his unchangeable decrees, to leave thousands of souls in death, compels them to continue in sin, till they drop into everlasting burnings. Thou temptest; He forceth us to be damned; for we cannot resist his will. Thou fool, why goest thou about any longer, seeking whom thou mayest devour? Hearest thou not that God is the devouring lion, the destroyer of souls, the murderer of men? Moloch caused only children to pass though the fire: and that fire was soon quenched; or, the corruptible body being consumed, its torment was at an end; but God, thou are told, by his eternal decree, fixed before they had done good or evil, causes, not only children of a span long, but the parents also, to pass through the fire of hell, the ‘fire which never shall be quenched; and the body which is cast thereinto, being now incorruptible and immortal, will be ever consuming and never consumed, but ‘the smoke of their torment,’ because it is God’s good pleasure, ‘ascendeth up for ever and ever.’ ”

O how would the enemy of God and man rejoice to hear these things were so! How would he cry aloud and spare not! How would he lift up his voice and say, “To your tents, O Israel! Flee from the face of this God, or ye shall utterly perish! But whither will ye flee? Into heaven? He is there, Down to hell? He is there also. Ye cannot flee from an omnipresent, almighty tyrant. And whether ye flee or stay, I call heaven, his throne, and earth, his footstool, to witness against you, ye shall perish, ye shall die eternally. Sing, O hell, and rejoice, ye that are under the earth! For God, even the mighty God, hath spoken, and devoted to death thousands of souls, form the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof! Here, O death, is they sting! They shall not, cannot escape; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. Here, O grave is thy victory. Nations yet unborn, or ever they have done good or evil are doomed never to see the light of life, but thou shalt gnaw upon them for ever and ever! Let all those morning stars sing together, who fell with Lucifer, son of the morning! Let all the sons of hell shout for joy! For the decree is past, and who shall disannul it?”

Advertisements
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    August 5, 2010 3:34

    Love the quotes! Thanks for sharing…

  2. August 6, 2010 10:29

    It seems Wesley had the same confusion of God forcing people to sin as opposed to His simply allowing them to act according to their natural inclinations (Reformed folk believe in the latter, not the former). As it says in Romans 1:24, God “gave them over” to their own sinful wills. You may disagree with me, but I think a lot of the objections against the Reformed doctrine of election simply evaporate when that is taken into account.

    Wesley and Whitefield (the co-founders of Methodism) tended to one-up each other in their sermons on this topic. Which is why I think an appropriate response to this is to in turn refer you to one of Whitefield’s sermons:

    The Potter and the Clay (An Exposition of Jeremiah 18:1-6):
    (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/whitefield/sermons.xv.html)

    “If it be inquired, who is to be the potter? And by whose agency this marred clay is to be formed into another vessel? Or in other words, if it be asked, how this great and mighty change is to be effected? I answer, not by the mere dint and force of moral suasion [persuasion]. This is good in its place. And I am so far from thinking, that Christian preachers should not make use of rational arguments and motives in their sermons, that I cannot think they are fit to preach at all, who either cannot, or will not use them. We have the example of the great God himself for such a practice; ‘Come (says he) and let us reason together.’ And St. Paul, that prince of preachers, ‘reasoned of temperance, and righteousness, and a judgment to come.’ And it is remarkable, ‘that whilst he was reasoning of these things, Felix trembled.’ Nor are the most persuasive strains of holy rhetoric less needful for a scribe ready instructed to the kingdom of God. The scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, every where abound with them. And when can they be more properly employed, and brought forth, than when we are acting as ambassadors or heaven, and beseeching poor sinners, as in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled unto God. All this we readily grant. But at the same time, I would as soon go to yonder church-yard, and attempt to raise the dead carcasses, with a ‘come forth,’ as to preach to dead souls, did I not hope for some superior power to make the word effectual to the designed end. I should only be like a sounding brass for any saving purpose, or as a tinkling cymbal. Neither is this change to be wrought by the power of our own free-will. This is an idol every where set up, but we dare not fall down and worship it. ‘No man (says Christ) can come to me, unless the Father draw him.’ Our own free-will, if improved, may restrain us from the commission of many evils, and put us in the way of conversion; but, after exerting our utmost efforts (and we are bound in duty to exert them) we shall find the words of our own church article to be true, that ‘man since the fall hath no power to turn to God.’ No, we might as soon attempt to stop the ebbing and flowing of the tide, and calm the most tempestuous sea, as to imagine that we can subdue, or bring under proper regulations, our own unruly wills and affections by any strength inherent in ourselves.

    And therefore, that I may keep you no longer in suspense, I inform you, that this heavenly potter, this blessed agent, is the Almighty Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the third person in the most adorable Trinity, coessential with the Father and the Son. This is that Spirit, which at the beginning of time moved on the face of the waters, when nature lay in one universal chaos. This was the Spirit that overshadowed the Holy Virgin, before that holy thing was born of her: and this same Spirit must come, and move upon the chaos of our souls, before we can properly be called the sons of God. This is what John the Baptist calls ‘being baptized with the Holy Ghost,’ without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire, which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day.

    As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet, and will abide till time itself shall be nor more. For it is he that sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true believers are said to be ‘born from above, to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ Their second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It is, therefore, called ‘a creation;’ but put ye on (says the apostle) the new man which is created’ — And how? Even as the first man was, ‘after God in righteousness and true holiness.'”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: