This is an excerpt from Wesley’s journal where he writes a letter confronting the idea that if a person has doubts, he/she can’t also have faith at the same time. Until a person gets rid of all doubt (they said), things that look like faith (like praying, taking communion, or even going to church), are of no real value. Wesley disagreed. Read on…
In about September, 1739, while my brother and I were absent, certain men crept in among them unawares, greatly troubling and subverting their souls; telling them, they were in a delusion; that they had deceived themselves, and had no true faith at all. “For,” said they, “none has any justifying faith, who has ever any doubt or fear, which you know you have; or who has not a clean heart, which you know you have not: Nor will you ever have it, till you leave off using the means of grace; (so called;) till you leave off running to church and sacrament, and praying, and singing, and reading either the Bible, or any other book; for you cannot use these things without trusting in them. Therefore, till you leave them off, you can never have true faith; you can never till then trust in the blood of Christ.”
And this doctrine, from the beginning to this day, has been taught as the doctrine of the Moravian Church. I think, therefore, that it is my bounden duty to clear the Moravians from this aspersion; and the more, because I am perhaps the only person now in England that both can and will do it. And I believe it is the peculiar providence of God that I can: That two years since the most eminent members of that Church should so fully declare both their experience and judgment, touching the very points now in question.
The sum of what has been asserted, as from them, is this:—
(1.) That [a person] cannot have any degree of justifying faith, till he/she is wholly freed from all doubt and fear; and till he/she has, in the full, proper sense, a new, a clean heart.
(2.) That [a person] may not use the ordinances of God, the Lord’s Supper in particular, before he has such a faith as excludes all doubt and fear, and implies a new, a clean heart.”
In flat opposition to this, I assert,
(1.) That [a person] may have a degree of justifying faith, before he/she is wholly freed from all doubt and fear; and before he/she has, in the full, proper sense, a new, a clean heart.
(2.) That [a person] may use the ordinances of God, the Lord’s Supper in particular, before he/she has such a faith as excludes all doubt and fear, and implies a new, a clean heart.”
That’s it for this week. Chime in? What do you make of this question, and of Wesley’s push-back? Comment below and join me in dialogue.Taken from: Wesley, J. (1872). The Works of John Wesley, Volumes 1–4 (Third Edition., Vol. 1, pp. 81–82). London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room. *Wesley and his contemporaries used “man” and “men” interchangeably with the word or concept of “people” or humans. I have substituted these occurances with “people” or “a person” or “he/she” where applicable. ********Learn more about John Wesley here.
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