War of Words
Wesley on Free Grace
From his March 1739 sermon:
Nothing but the strongest conviction, not only that what is here advanced is the truth as it is in Jesus, but also that I am indispensably obliged to declare this truth to all the world, would have induced me openly to oppose the sentiments of those whom I highly esteem for their works’ sake: at whose feet may I be found, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is free in all, and free for all. To this some have answer’d, “No: it is free only for those whom God hath ordained to life; and they are but a little flock. The greater part of mankind God hath ordained to death; and it is not free for them. Them God hateth; and therefore before they were born, decreed they should die eternally. And this was his good pleasure.”
This doctrine represents our blessed Lord, “Jesus Christ the righteous,” “the only begotten son of the Father, full of grace and truth,” as a hypocrite, a deceiver of the people, a man void of common sincerity.
This is the blasphemy clearly contained in the horrible decree of predestination. And here I fix my foot. On this I join issue with every assertor of it. You represent God as worse than the devil: more false, more cruel, more unjust.
From his 31-page pamphlet, December 1740:
Jonah could not go with more reluctance against Nineveh, than I now take pen in hand to write against you. But what can I say? The children of God are in danger of falling into error. Nay, numbers have been misled.
And when I remember how Paul reproved Peter for his dissimulation, I fear I have been sinfully silent too long. O then be not angry with me, dear and honoured Sir, if now I deliver my soul, by telling you that I think in this you greatly err.
The most important objections, which you have urged against this doctrine, as reasons why you reject it, being seriously considered, and faithfully tried by the word of God, will appear to be of no force at all.
Indeed had not your name, dear Sir, been prefixed to the sermon, I could not have been so uncharitable as to think you were the author of such sophistry.
For Christ’s sake be not rash! Give yourself to reading. Study the covenant of grace. Down with your carnal reasoning.
It often fills me with pleasure, to think how I shall behold you casting your crown down at the feet of the Lamb, and as it were filled with a holy blushing for opposing the divine sovereignty in the manner you have done.
By the Editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #38 in 1993]
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