John Wesley was no divine determinist, but he did not minimize in any way the omniscience or the foreknowledge of God, nor the reign of God over the eternal destiny of His own creation. Read on and discover how Wesley explains foreknowledge in his classic sermon: “On Predestination”
God foreknew those in every nation who would believe, from the beginning of the world to the consummation of all things.
But, in order to throw light upon this dark question, it should be well observed, that when we speak of God’s foreknowledge, we do not speak according to the nature of things, but after the manner of men. For, if we speak properly, there is no such thing as either foreknowledge or after knowledge in God.
All time, or rather all eternity, (for time is only that small fragment of eternity which is allotted to the children of men,) being present to him at once, he does not know one thing before another, or one thing after another; but sees all things in one point of view from everlasting to everlasting.
As all time, with everything that exists therein, is present with him at once, so he sees at once, whatever was, is, or will be, to the end of time. But observe: We must not think they are because he knows them. No; he knows them because they are.
Just as I (if one may be allowed to compare the things of men with the deep things of God) now know the sun shines: Yet the sun does not shine because I know it, but I know it because he shines. My knowledge supposes the sun to shine; but does not in anywise cause it. In like manner, God knows that man sins; for he knows all things: Yet we do not sin because he knows it, but he knows it because we sin; and his knowledge supposes our sin, but does not in anywise cause it.
In a word, God, looking on all ages, from the creation to the consummation, as a moment, and seeing at once whatever is in the hearts of all the children of men, knows every one that does or does not believe, in every age or nation. Yet what he knows, whether faith or unbelief, is in nowise caused by his knowledge. Men are as free in believing or not believing as if he did not know it at all.
What do you make of Wesley’s conclusion that God’s certain knowledge is different from a divine decree, or a pre-determination of everything that happens (especially God knowing we sin because we sin, versus people sinning because God knows it, or pre-determines it)? What’s the difference? Jump into the dialogue in the comments below.
—–From Wesley’s Sermon: “On Predestination” – Wesley, J. (1872). The Works of John Wesley (Third Edition., Vol. 6, pp. 226–227). London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room. ******** Learn more about John Wesley here. Buy your copy of the Wesley Collection in LOGOS here.