Quotes from John Wesley

In both Plymouth Brethren and Bible Churches, I have heard elders and preachers talk of the godliness of John and Charles Wesley. Although I do not question John Wesley's commitment to God, I wonder how many of these preachers and elders realize just how much he differed with them theologically. Most people in Bible and Brethren Churches believe in the "eternal security" of the believer, that is, that once one becomes a child of God, he cannot be lost. Many within these two groups of churches also believe in the doctrine of election, that is, that God chose those whom He would save.

John Wesley believed in neither of these two doctrines, and argues eloquently against them in his writings (he often used the term "predestination" to refer to election, as do many, although they are not the same thing, but I won't go into that right now). According to Arthur Pink, "The one man who did more than any other to popularise and spread Arminianism in the English-speaking world was John Wesley" (Eternal Security, p. 96).

Although I disagree with John Wesley on a number of things, I also agree with him on a number of things. I find his writings both enjoyable and profitable. At times they force me back into the Scriptures to refute some of his arguments, but that's a good thing. - CAS

The following two quotes are from an essay entitled "The Question 'What is an Arminian?' Answered By a Lover of Free Grace." This essay is in The Works of John Wesley (published by Baker Books), Volume 10, pp. 358-361.

"To say, "This man is an Arminian," has the same effect on many hearers, as to say, "This is a mad dog." It puts them into a fright at once: They run away from him with all speed and diligence; and will hardly stop, unless it be to throw a stone at the dreadful and mischievous animal."

"Is it not the duty of every Arminian Preacher, First, never, in public or in private, to use the word Calvinist as a term of reproach; seeing it is neither better nor worse than calling names?--a practice no more consistent with good sense or good manners, than it is with Christianity...And is it not equally the duty of every Calvinist Preacher, First, never in public or in private, in preaching or in conversation, to use the word Arminian as a term of reproach?"

"'But is not the faithfulness of God engaged to keep all that now believe from falling away?' I cannot say that. Whatever assurance God may give to particular souls, I find no general promise in holy writ, 'that none who once believes shall finally fall.' Yet, to say the truth, this is so pleasing an opinion, so agreeable to flesh and blood, so suitable to whatever of nature remains in those who have tasted that grace of God, that I see nothing but the mighty ower of God which can restrain any who hears it from closing with it. But still it wants one thing to recommend it, - plain, cogent scripture proof." -- From his essay, "Predestination Calmly Considered," in The Works of John Wesley, Volume 10, p. 242.

The following quote from his sermon entitled "Justification by Faith" gives us some insight into his understanding of Romans 9, which is one of the classic passages used by proponents of election:

It does not become poor, guilty, sinful worms, who receive whatsoever blessings they enjoy, (from the least drop of water that cools our tongue, to the immense riches of glory in eternity,) of grace, of mere favour, and not of debt, to ask of God the reasons of his conduct. It is not meet for us to call Him in question "who giveth account to none of his ways;" to demand, "Why didst thou make faith the condition, the only condition, of justification? Wherefore didst thou decree, He that believeth, and he only, shall be saved?" This is the very point on which St. Paul so strongly insists in the ninth chapter of this Epistle, viz., That the terms of pardon and acceptance must depend, not on us, but on him that calleth us; that there is no unrighteousness with God, in fixing his own terms, not according to ours, but his own good pleasure; who may justly say, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy;" namely, on him who believeth in Jesus. "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth," to choose the condition on which he shall find acceptance; "but of God that showeth mercy;" that accepteth none at all, but of his own free love, his unmerited goodness. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy," viz., on those who believe on the Son of his love; "and whom he will," that is, those who believe not, "he hardeneth," leaves at last to the hardness of their hearts.

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