The glory of Methodism

From John Wesley’s journal entry dated May 18, 1788, in which he records a short account of Methodism that he made to a congregation:

There is no other religious society under heaven which requires nothing of men in order to their admission into it, but a desire to save their souls. Look all round you, you can not be admitted into the Church, or society of the Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, or any others unless you hold the same opinions with them, and adhere to the same mode of worship.

The Methodists alone do not insist on your holding this or that opinion; but they think and let think. Neither do they impose any particular mode of worship; but you may continue to worship in your former manner, be it what it may. Now, I do not know any other religious society, either ancient or modern, wherein such liberty of conscience is now allowed, or has been allowed, since the age of the Apostles. Here is our glorying; and a glorying particular to us.

Wesley’s description was of the movement in the British Isles. The American movement had become a church a few years before. I do not know if the Early American Methodist Church could be described with as much freedom of conscience.

In 2013, in some parts of America, Christians would find refreshing the freedom of conscience that early Methodism offered. In other parts of the country, Christians have total freedom of conscience — some would say verging on licentiousness — but seem to lack any serious desire to save their souls.

In other words, early Methodism still has something to offer — even if it has no movement to make the offer — to the church in America.

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4 thoughts on “The glory of Methodism

  1. That may have been what Wesley said but what did Wesley do and practice?
    Admission to and members of is not the same thing.
    They may not ” impose any particular mode of worship” but conduct in worship was given direction by Wesley.
    Suggestions made.

    The comments are a bit of a s..t..r..e..t..c..h..

    1. I’m not sure those two things are the same.

      Mode of worship and conduct during worship are not identical. I get your point, though. Wesley was not laid back about such things.

      1. The title of this post strikes me as ironical and an oxymoron, to speak of “the glory of Methodism” in any contemporary sense (though I know that was not your thrust). Perhaps more apropos might be “Ichabod”…(smile).

  2. From what I’ve been studying of John Wesley these past weeks….pouring over his letters and biography….I would have to say that the “conduct” Wesley gave direction in concerning worship lined up with Paul’s example in the early church. Pleasantly… I have discovered that John Wesley was driven by a desire to further the Kingdom of God….to reach the lost…..and to facilitate the opportunity to be a member of the “pure spotless Bride”. I, again pleasantly surprised, believe he was a “called” shepherd of the flock and as such knew that one day he would be held at the highest levels of accountability before God. Well done Mr. Wesley.

    Having said that….I believe the greatest responsibility to act upon the end of your statement….”early Methodism still has something to offer — even if it has no movement to make the offer — to the church in America.” ……would rest on those whom the Holy Spirit stirs and reveals this truth to. For such a time as this………..

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