Notes on the Entire Bible-The Book of John (John Wesleys Notes on the Entire Bible 43)
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In , Coke and Asbury persuaded the American Methodists to refer to them as bishops rather than superintendents,  overruling Wesley's objections to the change. His brother, Charles, was alarmed by the ordinations and Wesley's evolving view of the matter. He begged Wesley to stop before he had "quite broken down the bridge" and not embitter his [Charles'] last moments on earth, nor "leave an indelible blot on our memory.
The 20th-century Wesley scholar Albert Outler argued in his introduction to the collection John Wesley that Wesley developed his theology by using a method that Outler termed the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The centrality of Scripture was so important for Wesley that he called himself "a man of one book"  —meaning the Bible—although he was well-read for his day. However, he believed that doctrine had to be in keeping with Christian orthodox tradition.
So, tradition was considered the second aspect of the Quadrilateral. Wesley contended that a part of the theological method would involve experiential faith. In other words, truth would be vivified in personal experience of Christians overall, not individually , if it were really truth.
John Wesley's Writings, Biography and Portraits
And every doctrine must be able to be defended rationally. He did not divorce faith from reason. Tradition, experience and reason, however, were subject always to Scripture, Wesley argued, because only there is the Word of God revealed "so far as it is necessary for our salvation. The doctrines which Wesley emphasised in his sermons and writings are prevenient grace , present personal salvation by faith, the witness of the Spirit, and sanctification. Unlike the Calvinists of his day, Wesley did not believe in predestination , that is, that some persons had been elected by God for salvation and others for damnation.
He understood that Christian orthodoxy insisted that salvation was only possible by the sovereign grace of God. He expressed his understanding of humanity's relationship to God as utter dependence upon God's grace. God was at work to enable all people to be capable of coming to faith by empowering humans to have actual existential freedom of response to God. Wesley defined the witness of the Spirit as: "an inward impression on the soul of believers, whereby the Spirit of God directly testifies to their spirit that they are the children of God.
This doctrine was closely related to his belief that salvation had to be "personal. Sanctification he described in as the "grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called 'Methodists'. He did not contend for "sinless perfection"; rather, he contended that a Christian could be made " perfect in love ". Wesley studied Eastern Orthodoxy and embraced particularly the doctrine of Theosis.
One would be able to keep from committing what Wesley called, "sin rightly so-called. A person could still be able to sin , but intentional or wilful sin could be avoided.
Secondly, to be made perfect in love meant, for Wesley, that a Christian could live with a primary guiding regard for others and their welfare. He based this on Christ's quote that the second great command is "to love your neighbour as you love yourself. This love, plus the love for God that could be the central focus of a person's faith, would be what Wesley referred to as "a fulfilment of the law of Christ. Wesley entered controversies as he tried to enlarge church practice. The most notable of his controversies was that on Calvinism.
His father was of the Arminian school in the church. Wesley came to his own conclusions while in college and expressed himself strongly against the doctrines of Calvinistic election and reprobation. His system of thought has become known as Wesleyan Arminianism , the foundations of which were laid by Wesley and fellow preacher John William Fletcher.
Whitefield inclined to Calvinism. When in Wesley preached a sermon on Freedom of Grace , attacking the Calvinistic understanding of predestination as blasphemous, as it represented "God as worse than the devil," Whitefield asked him not to repeat or publish the discourse, as he did not want a dispute. Wesley published his sermon anyway. Whitefield was one of many who responded.
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The two men separated their practice in Wesley wrote that those who held to unlimited atonement did not desire separation, but "those who held 'particular redemption' would not hear of any accommodation. Whitefield, Harris , Cennick , and others, became the founders of Calvinistic Methodism.
Whitefield and Wesley, however, were soon back on friendly terms, and their friendship remained unbroken although they travelled different paths. When someone asked Whitefield if he thought he would see Wesley in heaven, Whitefield replied, "I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him.
In , the controversy broke out anew with violence and bitterness, as people's view of God related to their views of men and their possibilities. Augustus Toplady , Rowland , Richard Hill and others were engaged on one side, while Wesley and Fletcher stood on the other. Toplady was editor of The Gospel Magazine , which had articles covering the controversy.
In , Wesley began the publication of The Arminian Magazine , not, he said, to convince Calvinists, but to preserve Methodists. He wanted to teach the truth that "God willeth all men to be saved. Later in his ministry, Wesley was a keen abolitionist ,   speaking out and writing against the slave trade.
He published a pamphlet on slavery, titled Thoughts Upon Slavery, in He wrote, "Liberty is the right of every human creature, as soon as he breathes the vital air; and no human law can deprive him of that right which he derives from the law of nature". Women had an active role in Wesley's Methodism, and were encouraged to lead classes. In , he informally allowed Sarah Crosby , one of his converts and a class leader, to preach. For instance, in , Wesley allowed Crosby to give exhortations. In the summer of , Mary Bosanquet wrote to John Wesley to defend hers and Sarah Crosby's work preaching and leading classes at her orphanage, Cross Hall.
Wesley travelled widely , generally on horseback, preaching two or three times each day. Stephen Tomkins writes that "[Wesley] rode , miles, gave away 30, pounds, Wesley practised a vegetarian diet and in later life abstained from wine for health reasons.
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I tell you there is poison in it! After attending a performance in Bristol Cathedral in , Wesley said: "I went to the cathedral to hear Mr. Handel's Messiah. I doubt if that congregation was ever so serious at a sermon as they were during this performance. In many places, especially several of the choruses, it exceeded my expectation. He is described as below medium height, well proportioned, strong, with a bright eye, a clear complexion, and a saintly, intellectual face.
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Vazeille left him 15 years later. John Singleton writes: "By she had left him — unable to cope, it is said, with the competition for his time and devotion presented by the ever-burgeoning Methodist movement. Molly, as she was known, was to return and leave him again on several occasions before their final separation.
In , at the death of George Whitefield, Wesley wrote a memorial sermon which praised Whitefield's admirable qualities and acknowledged the two men's differences: "There are many doctrines of a less essential nature In these we may think and let think; we may ' agree to disagree. Wesley's health declined sharply towards the end of his life and he ceased preaching. On 28 June , less than a year before his death, he wrote:. This day I enter into my eighty-eighth year.
For above eighty-six years, I found none of the infirmities of old age: my eyes did not wax dim, neither was my natural strength abated. But last August, I found almost a sudden change.
My eyes were so dim that no glasses would help me. My strength likewise now quite forsook me and probably will not return in this world. Wesley died on 2 March , at the age of As he lay dying, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, "Farewell, farewell.
THEO 3260 Biblical Topics: War & Peace (Nienhuis): SBL Style
Because of his charitable nature he died poor, leaving as the result of his life's work , members and itinerant preachers under the name "Methodist". It has been said that "when John Wesley was carried to his grave, he left behind him a good library of books, a well-worn clergyman's gown" and the Methodist Church.
Wesley wrote, edited or abridged some publications.