Church_LadyJohn Wesley was the dictionary definition of a “Holiness Preacher,” but he did not equate a sour disposition of indignant negativity with holiness.

This little treasure, an excerpt from Wesley’s journal, contains a reflection on his encounter with some real characters he met at a church one day. Read on…


Mon. Jun. 23, 1766. —

We rode in a mild, cool day, to Thorny-Hill, about sixty (measured) miles from Glasgow. Here I met with Mr. Knox’s “History of the Church of Scotland;” and could any man wonder, if the members of it were more fierce, sour, and bitter of spirit, than some of them are? For what a pattern have they before them!

I know it is commonly said, “The work to be done needed such a spirit.”

Not so: The work of God does not, cannot need the work of the devil to forward it. And a calm, even spirit goes through rough work far better than a furious one.

Although, therefore, God did use, at the time of the Reformation, some sour, over-bearing, passionate men, yet he did not use them because they were such, but notwithstanding they were so. And there is no doubt, He would have used them much more, had they been of an humbler and milder spirit.1


Wesley’s reference to the obvious source of a sour disposition among church members is insightful.

“For what a pattern have they before them.”

We Christians tend to pass on our attitudes and our pre-dispositions to those around us. Leaders especially have this power in an organization – including and especially in a church!

This journal entry causes me to engage in some healthy introspection. When people fellowship with me, or with the people in the church I pastor, what would they say about our shared disposition if they, like Mr. Wesley, went home to write about us in their journal?

Something to think about!


Wesley, J. (1872). The Works of John Wesley, Volumes 1–4 (Third Edition., Vol. 3, pp. 253–254). London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room.

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