Category Archives: Reformation

John Wesley on Pelagius

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window of St. Augustine...
“hey Joel… would you rather have me, a saint and a doctor of the Church, or John Wesley who couldn’t even turn the key… if you know what I mean?” Louis Comfort Tiffany, Window of St. Augustine, in the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the Logos set of Wesley’s complete works, I can easily scan for those nasty topics like Pelagius.

Here are two areas I have found.

Yea, I would not affirm, that the arch-heretic of the fifth century, (as plentifully as he has been bespattered for many ages,) was not one of the holiest men of that age, not excepting St. Augustine himself…I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) “go on to perfection;” or, in other words, “fulfil the law of Christ.”

“But St. Augustine says:”—When Augustine’s passions were heated, his word is not worth a rush. And here is the secret: St. Augustine was angry at Pelagius: Hence he slandered and abused him, (as his manner was,) without either fear or shame. And St. Augustine was then in the Christian world, what Aristotle was afterwards: There needed no other proof of any assertion, than Ipse dixit: “St. Augustine said it.” – Sermon 68

Wesley was accused of semi-Pelagianism. He responded,

I know no creature (of us) who says, “Part of our salvation belongs to Christ, and part to us.” No; we all say, Christ alone saves us from all sin; and your question is not about the Author, but the measure, of salvation. Both agree, it is all Christ; but is it all salvation, or only half salvation, he will give? Who was Pelagius? By all I can pick up from ancient authors, I guess he was both a wise and a holy man. But we know nothing but his name; for his writings are all destroyed; not one line of them left. – Letter to a Mr. Coates, 1761

I note that the first one is part of the doctrinal standards of the United Methodist Church.

By the way, Fr. John was likewise a fan of Montanus. He saw in both men his own doctrine of “going on to perfection.”

Wesley on the “intermediate state” of paradise

English: "John Wesley," by the Engli...
English: “John Wesley,” by the English artist George Romney, oil on canvas. 29 1/2 in. x 24 3/4 in. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to Logos, I am able to dig through John Wesley’s surviving works — more than sermons, but his journals and letters. In going through early Wesley, we find him dead set against anything remotely resembling Catholicity. Later in life, we find a developing thought:

But what is the essential part of heaven? Undoubtedly it is to see God, to know God, to love God. We shall then know both His nature, and His works of creation and providence, and of redemption. Even in paradise, in the intermediate state between death and the resurrection, we shall learn more concerning these in an hour, than we could in an age, during our stay in the body. We cannot tell indeed how we shall then exist, or what kind of organs we shall have: The soul will not be encumbered with flesh and blood; but probably it will have some sort of ethereal vehicle, even before God clothes us “with our nobler house of empyrean light.”1

I’ll keep digging… but I think it has something to do with listening to a Michael Linner of the Moravians.

  1.  John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley (vol. 13, Third Edition.; London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), 31.

John Wesley on #Lent

English: "John Wesley," by the Engli...
English: “John Wesley,” by the English artist George Romney, oil on canvas. 29 1/2 in. x 24 3/4 in. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breaths more a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England.”  –  John Wesley

While not exactly a Lenten prayer, it is in the Lenten spirit,

O JESUS, POOR AND ABJECT, UNKNOWN AND DESPISED,
have mercy upon me, and let me not be ashamed to follow Thee.

O JESUS, HATED, CALUMNIATED, AND PERSECUTED,
have mercy upon me, and let me not be ashamed to come after Thee.

O JESUS, BETRAYED AND SOLD AT A VILE PRICE,
have mercy upon me, and make me content to be as my Master.

O JESUS, BLASPHEMED, ACCUSED AND WRONGFULLY CONDEMNED,
have mercy upon me, and teach me to endure the contradiction of sinners.

O JESUS, CLOTHED WITH A HABIT OF REPROACH AND SHAME,
have mercy upon me, and let me not seek my own glory.

O JESUS, INSULTED, MOCKED, AND SPIT UPON,
have mercy upon me, and let me run with patience the race set before me.

O JESUS, DRAGGED TO THE PILLAR, SCOURGED, AND BATHED IN BLOOD,
have mercy upon me, and let me not faint in the fiery trial.

O JESUS, CROWNED WITH THORNS, AND HAILED IN DERISION;

O JESUS, BURDENED WITH OUR SINS, AND THE CURSES OF THE PEOPLE;

O JESUS, AFFRONTED, OUTRAGED, BUFFETED, OVERWHELMED WITH INJURIES, GRIEFS, AND HUMILIATIONS;

O JESUS, HANGING ON THE ACCURSED TREE, BOWING THE HEAD, GIVING UP THE GHOST,
Have mercy upon me, and confirm my whole soul to Thy holy, humble, suffering Spirit.

O Thou who for the love of me hast undergone such an infinity of sufferings and humiliations, let me be wholly “emptied of myself,” that I may rejoice to take up my cross daily and follow Thee.

Enable me, too, to endure the pain and despise the shame; and, if it be Thy will, to resist even unto blood!

– REV. JOHN WESLEY (at age 20). Friday morning prayers – “A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week”, 1733.

Further, Wesley observed Lent (and the Stations of the Cross)

 

Martin Luther on #Lent

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk
Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This just goes to show you how much better Luther was than his lackeys, you know, Calvin and that Zwinugil Zinger Zwinger Zapper, no, well, then, that Zwingli feller. Some of the Reformers threw out the baby with the bathwater:

Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent; Matthew 4:1-11
A sermon by Martin Luther from his Church Postil.

The Fast and the Temptation of Christ

I. THE FASTING OF CHRIST.

I. This Gospel is read today at the beginning of Lent in order to picture before Christians the example of Christ, that they may rightly observe Lent, which has become mere mockery: first, because no one can follow this example and fast forty days and nights as Christ did without eating any food. Christ rather followed the example of Moses, who fasted also forty days and nights, when he received the law of God on mount Sinai. Thus Christ also wished to fast when he was about to bring to us, and give expression to, the new law. In the second place, Lent has become mere mockery because our fasting is a perversion and an institution of man. For although Christ did fast forty days, yet there is no word of his that he requires us to do the same and fast as he did. Indeed he did many other things, which he wishes us not to do; but whatever he calls us to do or leave undone, we should see to it that we have his Word to support our actions.

2. But the worst of all is that we have adopted and practiced fasting as a good work: not to bring our flesh into subjection; but, as a meritorious work before God, to atone for our sins and obtain grace. And it is this that has made our fasting a stench and so blasphemous and shameful, so that no drinking and eating, no gluttony and drunkenness, could have been as bad and foul. It would have been better had people been drunk day and night than to fast thus. Moreover, even if all had gone well and right, so that their fasting had been applied to the mortification of the flesh; but since it was not voluntary it was not left to each to do according to their own free will, but was compulsory by virtue of human commandment, and they did it unwillingly, it was all lost and to no purpose. I will not mention the many other evils as the consequences, as that pregnant mothers and their offspring, the sick and the weak, were thereby ruined, so that it might be called a fasting of Satan instead of a fasting unto holiness. Therefore we will carefully consider how this Gospel teaches us by the example of Christ what true fasting is.

3. The Scriptures present to us two kinds of true fasting: one, by which we try to bring the flesh into subjection to the spirit, of which St. Paul speaks in 2 Cor 6,5: “In labors, in watchings, in fastings.” The other is that which we must bear patiently, and yet receive willingly because of our need and poverty, of which St. Paul speaks in 1 Cor 4, 11: “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst,” and Christ in Mt 9,15: “When the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then will they fast.” This kind of fasting Christ teaches us here while in the wilderness alone without anything to eat, and while he suffers his penury without murmuring. The first kind of fasting, one can end whenever he wills, and can satisfy it by food; but the other kind we must observe and bear until God himself changes it and satisfies us. Hence it is much more precious than the first, because it moves in greater faith.

And from another sermon:

It is not wrong to fast in honor of the name of an apostle, or to confess during Lent. But neither does he who omits these things commit any evil by this omission. Let him who desires to fast and make confession, do so, but let not one censure, judge, condemn or quarrel with his fellow over the matter. One individual should be like- minded with another–tolerant of what the other does and regarding his action as right because in itself blameless.

I would tend to agree, in part, with Luther that Lent should not be about works or added Grace, but as with a fast, bringing the body under subjection.

‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’

“I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

“Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Isa 58:3-14 NLT)

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John Wesley on “lamb-like” #advent14ccumwv

The Sermons of John Wesley are included in our doctrinal standards.

john wesley lamb like

Behold… the lamb that comes to take away the sins of the world…