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John Wesley
Founder: Methodist Church
Holiness Hero
Biography
 
John Wesley (1703-1791) was an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist movement which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield’s Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally. Wesley’s writing and preachings provided the seeds for both the modern Methodist movement and the Holiness movement, which encompass numerous denominations across the world. In addition, he refined Arminianism with a strong evangelical emphasis on the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith. (Wiki)

John Wesley: Serious Theologian; Delightful Human Being
(A brief sketch)

John Wesley was not only a serious theologian, but also a delightful human being. This brief sketch by Alexander Knox reveals why Wesley was such a favorite to the people who knew him personally. (read the sketch on John Wesley's human side.)

Life-Changing Journey on the Simmonds

John and Charles traveled on the Simmonds to Georgia. Joining them were Peter Bohler and a group of Moravians. It was during the course of a storm when the English passengers were screaming out in terror, but the Moravians were calmly singing, that John realized they had an assurance in salvation and confidence in God that he lacked. Conversations began at that time that eventually resulted in his conversation in London. (Read about crossing over on the Simmonds)

Persecution at Cork

Wesley was often attacked by mobs as preached in new towns. Sadly the local magistrates sat by and said nothing. In spite of the great danger, Wesley persisted, and eventually brought about so many conversions that he came to be loved even more than the pastors of the settled churches. (Read about the persecutions that took place in Cork)



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Quotations of John Wesley

“Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but God and I will change the world.” 

"Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, by all the means you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."

“In the evening, I went very unwilling to a society in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther's 'Preface' to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed.  I felt that I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

“The best of it is, God is with us.”

"Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can."

"Tell me how it is that in this room there are three candles and but one light, and I will explain to you the mode of the Divine existence."

“My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.”

"When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn."

"I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans."

“When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me”

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.”

“Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights: ‘Lord, is it not thy Word, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God”? Thou “givest liberally and upbraidest not”. Thou hast said, “If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.” I am willing to do, let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual’. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God, and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach."

“Immediately it stuck into my mind, “Leave off preaching. How can you preach to others, who have not faith yourself?” I asked Boehler, whether he thought I should leave it off or not. He answered “By no means.” I asked, “But what can I preach?” He said, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”

“The faith of the Protestants, in general, embraces only those truths, as necessary to salvation, which are clearly revealed in the oracles of God. Whatever is plainly declared in the Old and New Testaments is the object of their faith. They believe neither more nor less than what is manifestly contained in, and provable by, the Holy Scriptures…. The written Word is the whole and sole rule of their faith, as well as practice. They believe whatsoever God has declared, and profess to do whatsoever He hath commanded. This is the proper faith of Protestants: by this they will abide, and no other."

“Justifying faith implies, not only a divine evidence or conviction that ‘’God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself’,’ but a sure trust and confidence that Christ died for my sins, that He loved me and gave Himself for me.”

“The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: the literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly”

“The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities”

"As to matters of dress, I would recommend one never to be first in the fashion nor the last out of it”

“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.”

“Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context.”

“I desired as many as could to join together in fasting and prayer, that God would restore the spirit of love and of a sound mind to the poor deluded rebels in America”

“The Sabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocency, the former for the preservation of the church, the latter for the preservation of mankind.”

“God in Scripture commands me, according to my power, to instruct the ignorant, reform the wicked, confirm the virtuous. Man forbids me to do this in another’s parish; that is, in effect, not to do it at all, seeing I have now no parish; of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom, then, shall I hear, God or man? …I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to and sure I am that his blessing attends it.” (Read the entire letter from which the paragraph comes)

“Though I am always in a haste,” said Wesley. “I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit.”

“God loves you; therefore love and obey him. Christ died for you; therefore die to sin. Christ is risen; therefore rise in the image of God. Christ liveth ever more; therefore live to God till you live with him in glory. So we preached; and so you believed! This is the scriptural way, the Methodist way, the true way. God grant we may never turn therefrom, to the right hand or to the left.”

“Sour godliness is the devil’s religion.”

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Sermons of John Wesley

Almost Christians

Wesley makes it abundantly clear in this sermon that many Christians don't even live up to the standards of honest heathens, let alone God's standard. This sermon ought to be read and pondered over.

“Are not many of you conscious, that you never came thus far; that you have not been even almost a Christian; that you have not come up to the standard of heathen honesty; at least, not to the form of Christian godliness?-much less hath God seen sincerity in you, a real design of pleasing him in all things.”
(Read all of Almost Christians)

Scriptural Christianity

In this sermon Wesley defines Scriptural Christianity as the Christianity practiced by the members of the early church. He goes on to say that this kind of Christianity should be the kind practiced by all Christians in the modern age. As noted below, he ends by asking if any country is really Christian based on the Scriptural notion of Christianity!

Where does this Christianity now exist? Where, I pray, do the Christians live? Which is the country, the inhabitants whereof are all thus filled with the Holy Ghost? —are all of one heart and of one soul? cannot suffer one among them to lack anything, but continually give to every man as he hath need; who, one and all, have the love of God filling their hearts, and constraining them to love their neighbour as themselves; who have all “put on bowels of mercy, humbleness of mind, gentleness, long-suffering?” who offend not in any kind, either by word or deed, against justice, mercy, or truth; but in every point do unto all men; as they would these should do unto them? With what propriety can we term any a Christian country, which does not answer this description? Why then, let us confess we have never yet seen a Christian country upon earth.”  (Read all of Scriptural Christianity)
Some Tracts of John Wesley

Character of a Methodist

"
Who is a Methodist, according to your own account?” I answer: A Methodist is one who has “the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost given unto him;” one who “loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength.” God is the joy of his heart, and the desire of his soul; which is constantly crying out, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee! My God and my all! Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever!" (Read the rest of this tract)

A Short History of Methodism

"
The one charge then advanced against them was, that they were “righteous overmuch;” that they were abundantly too scrupulous, and too strict, carrying things to great extremes: in particular, that they laid too much stress upon the rubrics and canons of the Church; that they insisted too much on observing the statutes of the university; and that they took the Scriptures in too strict and literal a sense; so that if they were right, few indeed would be saved." (Read the rest of Wesley's brief history)

Biography   Quotations   Sermons   Tracts   Circuit Preachers

 
Circuit Preachers

William Bramwell was one of the most significant Methodist revivalist preachers in his time. You can learn much by reading about his life and ministry. I have gathered a few things to encourage you on a page devoted to his life. (Read more about  William Bramwell)

Christopher Hopper shares the dilemma of being in love with the perfect young woman who wasn't religious. (Read more about his dilemma)

John Smith
was born at Cudworth in Yorkshire, January, 1794. He was a consecrated Methodist circuit rider who brought thousands of people to God. Smith was remarkable for his firm faith in God's great willingness to save the worst of sinners, for his love for prayer-meetings after public worship, and for his urgency upon sinners to receive Christ now, and be saved upon the spot. He laboured in London, Brighton, Windsor, Frome, Nottingham, Lincoln and Sheffield. He spent much time on his knees praying down God's blessings on his ministry. He died at the age of 37 in 1831. (Read more about John Smith)

John Nelson
(1707-1770) was considered one of the foremost pastors of the early Methodists during John Wesley's time. Originally working as a stone mason, he eventually worked full-time sharing the news of full salvation in England. He suffered much persecution from those who were opposed to Wesley's understanding of the Christian life, and was also strongly opposed by the Moravians. Reading his story, one better understands why John Wesley and Count Zinzendorf parted ways. (Read more about John Newton)


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