Today I post the final excerpts from this week’s featured Anglican theologian and writer, John Wesley. Read Monday’s post for more information on Wesley. I hope you have found his writings edifying.
Today’s writings highlight Wesley’s theology on grace and our stewardship of money. Enjoy.
Wesley on prevenient (preventing) grace:
No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called natural conscience, But it is not natural: It is more property termed preventing grace. Every man has a greater or less measure of this, which waits not for the call of man. Everyone has, sooner or later, good desires, although the generality of men stifle them before they can strike deep root or produce any considerable fruit. Everyone has some measure of that light, some faint glimmering ray, which, sooner or later, more or less, enlightens every man that comes into the world. So that no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he has.
—Sermon, On Working Out Our Own Salvation
Wesley on sanctifying grace:
There is likewise great variety in the manner and time of God’s bestowing his sanctifying grace, whereby he enables his children to give him their whole heart, which we can in no wise account for. God undoubtedly has reasons, but those reasons arc generally hid from the children of men. Once more: Some of those who are enabled to love God with all their heart and with all their soul retain the same blessing, without any interruption, till they are carried to Abraham’s bosom; others do not retain it, although they are not conscious of having grieved the Holy Spirit of God. This also we do not understand: We do not herein “know the mind of the Spirit.”
—Sermon, The Imperfection of Human Knowledge
Wesley on using a means of grace in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Notice that Wesley sees this as a means to an end, rather than an end itself. Notice too that he sees daily discipline as a feature, not a bug:
O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises [of prayer and Bible study]. You may acquire the taste for which you have not: What is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant, Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life: there is no other way. Do justice to your own soul: give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether. Then will the children of God rejoice.
Wesley’s excellent advice on our stewardship of money:
Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbor, in soul or body, by applying hereto with uninterrupted diligence and with all the understanding which God has given you. Save all you can, by cutting off every expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire; to gratify either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children. And then give all you can, or in other words, give all you have to God. Render to God not a tenth, not a third, not a half, but all that is God’s, be it more or less, by employing all on yourself, your household, the household of faith, and all mankind, in such a manner that you may give a good account of your stewardship when ye can be no longer stewards.
—Sermon, On the Use of Money
And this warning:
O you that have riches in possession, once more hear the word of the Lord! You that are rich in this world, that have food to eat, and clothes to put on, and something over, are you clear of the curse of loving the world? Are you sensible of your danger? Is not your belly your god? Is not eating and drinking, or any other pleasure of sense, the greatest pleasure you enjoy? Do not you seek happiness in dress, furniture, pictures, gardens, or anything else that pleases the eye? Do not you grow soft and delicate, unable to bear cold, heat, the wind or the rain, as you did when you were poor? Are you not increasing in goods, laying up treasure on earth instead of restoring to God in the poor, not so much, or so much, but all that you can spare? Surely, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven!”
—Sermon, On God’s Vineyard