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Author Topic: Thoughtful words from John Wesley on suffering  (Read 3951 times) Average Rating: 0
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KevinOrr
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« on: February 11, 2010, 12:18:50 PM »

Below is an extended quote from a sermon preached by John Wesley, entitled "On the Holy Spirit." As Lent is coming on, this seemed helpful for me. And I share it in this forum because it seems in harmony with orthodoxy and is another example that there are rays of truth even from those of us who are "non-orthodox."

"You want a reason why you should renounce the world. Indeed you cannot see the prince of it walking up and down, "seeking whom he may devour;" and you may be so far ignorant of his devices, as not to know that they take place, as well in the most specious measures of business and learning, as in the wildest pursuits of pleasure. But this, however, you cannot but see, that the world is not still a paradise of God, guarded and ennobled with the light of glory; it is, indeed, a place where God has determined he will not appear to you at best, but leave you in a state of hope, that you shall see his face when this world is dissolved.

However, there is a way to rescue ourselves, in great measure, from the ill consequences of our captivity; and our Saviour has taught us that way. It is by suffering. We must not only "suffer many things," as he did, and so enter into our glory; but we must also suffer many things, that we may get above our corruption at present, and enjoy the Holy Spirit.

The world has no longer any power over us, than we have a quick relish of its comforts; and suffering abates that. Suffering is, indeed, a direct confutation of the pretences which the flattering tempter gains us by: For I am in human life; and if that life contains such soft ease, ravishing pleasure, glorious eminence, as you promise, why am I thus? Is it because I have not yet purchased riches to make me easy, or the current accomplishments to make me considerable? Then I find that all the comfort you propose is by leading me off from myself; but I will rather enter deep into my own condition, bad as it is: Perhaps I shall be nearer to God, the Eternal Truth, in feeling sorrows and miseries that are personal and real, than in feeling comforts that are not so. I begin already to find that all my grievances centre in one point: There is always at the bottom one great loss or defect, which is not the want of friends or gold, of health or philosophy. And the abiding sense of this may possibly become a prayer in the ears of the Most High; -- a prayer not resulting from a set of speculative notions, but from the real, undissembled state of all that is within me; nor, indeed, so explicit a prayer as to describe the thing I want, but, considering how strange a want mine is, as explicit a one as I can make. Since, then, suffering opens me a door of hope, I will not put it from me as long as I live: It helps me to a true discovery of one period of my existence, though it is a low one; and bids fairer for having some connexion with a more glorious period that may follow, than the arts of indulgence, the amusements of pride and sloth, and all the dark policy of this world, which wage war with the whole truth, that man must know and feel, before he can look towards God. It may be, while I continue on the cross, I shall, like my Saviour, put off "principalities and powers;" recover myself more and more from the subjection I am indeed in (which he only seemed to be) to those wicked rulers, and to "triumph over them in it." At least, it shall appear, in the day when God shall visit, that my heart, though grown unworthy of his residence, was too big to be comforted by any of his creatures; and was kept for him, as a place originally sacred, though for the present unclean."
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2010, 12:55:28 PM »

Great and Peace,

Before the others sweep in and tear apart John Wesley... I want to say that I've read a great deal of his works and think very highly of him. I often say to Methodist friends that I believe Wesley to stand at the center of the great divide of Christendom. He is Catholic enough to appeal to many Catholics, he is Protestant enough to find favor among Protestants and he works out his Salvation in Fear and Trembling as to find approval among even a few Orthodox... which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2010, 12:57:49 PM »

Quote
which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.

That's funny, most Orthodox I've met who have read anything of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, etc. very much enjoy those non-Orthodox authors. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2010, 01:47:39 PM »

Quote
which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.

That's funny, most Orthodox I've met who have read anything of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, etc. very much enjoy those non-Orthodox authors. Wink

I guess when it fits their needs the overlook the fact...
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2010, 02:06:59 PM »

I've heard a lot of Orthodox speaking highly of John Wesley. I thought in many points he was similar to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2010, 02:38:28 PM »

Quote
which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.

That's funny, most Orthodox I've met who have read anything of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, etc. very much enjoy those non-Orthodox authors. Wink

I guess when it fits their needs the overlook the fact...

Most Orthodox Christians I know have read Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, and Wesley, and speak very highly of all of them. We may not agree with all of their points, but there is sound reasoning in quite a bit of their writing.
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2010, 02:41:53 PM »

Below is an extended quote from a sermon preached by John Wesley, entitled "On the Holy Spirit." As Lent is coming on, this seemed helpful for me. And I share it in this forum because it seems in harmony with orthodoxy and is another example that there are rays of truth even from those of us who are "non-orthodox."

"You want a reason why you should renounce the world. Indeed you cannot see the prince of it walking up and down, "seeking whom he may devour;" and you may be so far ignorant of his devices, as not to know that they take place, as well in the most specious measures of business and learning, as in the wildest pursuits of pleasure. But this, however, you cannot but see, that the world is not still a paradise of God, guarded and ennobled with the light of glory; it is, indeed, a place where God has determined he will not appear to you at best, but leave you in a state of hope, that you shall see his face when this world is dissolved.

However, there is a way to rescue ourselves, in great measure, from the ill consequences of our captivity; and our Saviour has taught us that way. It is by suffering. We must not only "suffer many things," as he did, and so enter into our glory; but we must also suffer many things, that we may get above our corruption at present, and enjoy the Holy Spirit.

The world has no longer any power over us, than we have a quick relish of its comforts; and suffering abates that. Suffering is, indeed, a direct confutation of the pretences which the flattering tempter gains us by: For I am in human life; and if that life contains such soft ease, ravishing pleasure, glorious eminence, as you promise, why am I thus? Is it because I have not yet purchased riches to make me easy, or the current accomplishments to make me considerable? Then I find that all the comfort you propose is by leading me off from myself; but I will rather enter deep into my own condition, bad as it is: Perhaps I shall be nearer to God, the Eternal Truth, in feeling sorrows and miseries that are personal and real, than in feeling comforts that are not so. I begin already to find that all my grievances centre in one point: There is always at the bottom one great loss or defect, which is not the want of friends or gold, of health or philosophy. And the abiding sense of this may possibly become a prayer in the ears of the Most High; -- a prayer not resulting from a set of speculative notions, but from the real, undissembled state of all that is within me; nor, indeed, so explicit a prayer as to describe the thing I want, but, considering how strange a want mine is, as explicit a one as I can make. Since, then, suffering opens me a door of hope, I will not put it from me as long as I live: It helps me to a true discovery of one period of my existence, though it is a low one; and bids fairer for having some connexion with a more glorious period that may follow, than the arts of indulgence, the amusements of pride and sloth, and all the dark policy of this world, which wage war with the whole truth, that man must know and feel, before he can look towards God. It may be, while I continue on the cross, I shall, like my Saviour, put off "principalities and powers;" recover myself more and more from the subjection I am indeed in (which he only seemed to be) to those wicked rulers, and to "triumph over them in it." At least, it shall appear, in the day when God shall visit, that my heart, though grown unworthy of his residence, was too big to be comforted by any of his creatures; and was kept for him, as a place originally sacred, though for the present unclean."


Thank you for posting this Kevin. This is definitely something to pondered and contemplated over time.

Have a blessed Lent!
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 03:08:50 PM »

Quote
which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.

That's funny, most Orthodox I've met who have read anything of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, etc. very much enjoy those non-Orthodox authors. Wink

I guess when it fits their needs the overlook the fact...

Most Orthodox Christians I know have read Lewis, Chesterton, Tolkien, and Wesley, and speak very highly of all of them. We may not agree with all of their points, but there is sound reasoning in quite a bit of their writing.

I like Wesley too and yes I think he was somewhat orthodox... Of course, he didn't believe in Baptism nor a Sacramental Priesthood but he had a very 'orthodox' spirituality.
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2010, 06:03:00 PM »

Strangely, when I first became a Christian I was in a Wesleyan holiness group, yet I've never read anything by John/Charles Wesley (apart from quotes here and there). Any ideas about reading material? Their thoughts on ecclesiology or salvation would be of most interest to me, but any suggestions would be fine.
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2010, 06:15:41 PM »

Strangely, when I first became a Christian I was in a Wesleyan holiness group, yet I've never read anything by John/Charles Wesley (apart from quotes here and there). Any ideas about reading material? Their thoughts on ecclesiology or salvation would be of most interest to me, but any suggestions would be fine.

John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology by John Wesley

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley

John Wesley's Scriptural Christianity by Thomas C. Oden
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2010, 12:18:55 AM »

Quote
which is a miraculous thing because they don't like anyone except their own.

That's funny, most Orthodox I've met who have read anything of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, etc. very much enjoy those non-Orthodox authors. Wink

I agree. One would be hard-pressed to find Orthodox Christians who would exclude these theological giants from their reading. Wesley always struck me as a wonderful Christian and IIRC he had views that were compatible to Orthodoxy regarding deification. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2010, 12:20:24 AM »

Strangely, when I first became a Christian I was in a Wesleyan holiness group, yet I've never read anything by John/Charles Wesley (apart from quotes here and there). Any ideas about reading material? Their thoughts on ecclesiology or salvation would be of most interest to me, but any suggestions would be fine.

John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology by John Wesley

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley

John Wesley's Scriptural Christianity by Thomas C. Oden


Thanks Smiley I'll have to add them to the reading list.
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2010, 12:57:55 AM »

Of the Protestants John Wesley was one of the most Orthodox I encountered. Unfortunately, while I was involved in Protestantism I noticed that his works were fastly being thrown out and ignored in favor of people like John Hagee, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey,etc.
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2010, 10:37:01 AM »

Of the Protestants John Wesley was one of the most Orthodox I encountered. Unfortunately, while I was involved in Protestantism I noticed that his works were fastly being thrown out and ignored in favor of people like John Hagee, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey,etc.

Like I commented on a previous topic, Methodism in America in many ways diverged from what the Wesley's intended it to be, a renewal movement within the Church of England.
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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 04:32:59 AM »

Of the Protestants John Wesley was one of the most Orthodox I encountered. Unfortunately, while I was involved in Protestantism I noticed that his works were fastly being thrown out and ignored in favor of people like John Hagee, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey,etc.

None of these gentlemen are Methodists, they are pre-tribulation, rapture-promoting, dispensationalist evangelical fundamentalists.
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2010, 05:40:46 PM »



I like Wesley too and yes I think he was somewhat orthodox... Of course, he didn't believe in Baptism
He didn't???
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2010, 07:19:28 PM »



I like Wesley too and yes I think he was somewhat orthodox... Of course, he didn't believe in Baptism
He didn't???
I thought he just didn't believe in Baptismal regeneration.  Huh
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« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2010, 04:03:50 PM »



I like Wesley too and yes I think he was somewhat orthodox... Of course, he didn't believe in Baptism
He didn't???
I thought he just didn't believe in Baptismal regeneration.  Huh
In John Wesley's sermon "The Marks of the New Birth", he says, "that these privileges [of being 'born again'] by the free mercy of God, are ordinarily annexed to baptism." Wesley also adhered to infant baptism, as United Methodists still do. However, in Wesley's time, those of the Revival movement insisted on a conversion experience. In his sermon "The New Birth", "Baptism is not the new birth: they are not one and the same thing...A man may possibly be 'born of water', and yet not be 'born of the Spirit'. There may sometimes be the outward sign where there is not the inward grace. I do not now speak with regard to infants: it is certain, our Church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again. And it is allowed that the whole office for the baptism of infants proceeds upon this supposition...But whatever by the case with infants, it is sure all of riper years who are baptized are not at the same time born again. 'The tree is known by its fruits.' And hereby it appears too plain to be denied that divers of those who were chidren of the devil before they were baptized continue the same after baptism...." Regeneration, for Wesley, is the gate that opens the way toward sanctification, of growing up into the full stature of Christ.

To sum up, Wesley affirms that baptismal regeneration happens with infants. But, there is a distiction between baptism and regeneration. Further, as he witnessed people being baptized, but showing no fruit of repentance, that being born again is not always in sync with baptism.
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« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2010, 04:23:49 PM »



I like Wesley too and yes I think he was somewhat orthodox... Of course, he didn't believe in Baptism
He didn't???
I thought he just didn't believe in Baptismal regeneration.  Huh
In John Wesley's sermon "The Marks of the New Birth", he says, "that these privileges [of being 'born again'] by the free mercy of God, are ordinarily annexed to baptism." Wesley also adhered to infant baptism, as United Methodists still do. However, in Wesley's time, those of the Revival movement insisted on a conversion experience. In his sermon "The New Birth", "Baptism is not the new birth: they are not one and the same thing...A man may possibly be 'born of water', and yet not be 'born of the Spirit'. There may sometimes be the outward sign where there is not the inward grace. I do not now speak with regard to infants: it is certain, our Church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again. And it is allowed that the whole office for the baptism of infants proceeds upon this supposition...But whatever by the case with infants, it is sure all of riper years who are baptized are not at the same time born again. 'The tree is known by its fruits.' And hereby it appears too plain to be denied that divers of those who were chidren of the devil before they were baptized continue the same after baptism...." Regeneration, for Wesley, is the gate that opens the way toward sanctification, of growing up into the full stature of Christ.

To sum up, Wesley affirms that baptismal regeneration happens with infants. But, there is a distiction between baptism and regeneration. Further, as he witnessed people being baptized, but showing no fruit of repentance, that being born again is not always in sync with baptism.
This appears view seems to ignore one major problem, if baptismal regeneration really happens with some infants and not others, what determines whether or not the child was born again at the moment of batism or not. By "determines" I do not mean what external signs which are offered as evidence of the Baptismal Regeneration. What I mean by the thing that "determines" batismal regeneration in infants is that thing that is either present or absent at the baptism of a child that causes the child to either be regenerated or not regenerated. What is that thing and what causes that thing to either be there or not be there?
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« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2010, 06:42:07 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html
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« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2010, 06:49:57 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.
So, just because a person didn't confess Christ in the Orthodox way, he knows nothing of the truth, and all he speaks is lies?  Can we not recognize truth wherever truth is proclaimed, even when that truth is spoken by those outside the Orthodox Church?  Truth is truth regardless of who speaks it.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?
Would it surprise you if John Wesley had an understanding of the Church Fathers more profound than most of us here possess?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

And if what someone outside the Church says bears witness to the truths we hold most dear, what then?
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« Reply #21 on: February 17, 2010, 09:22:58 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

Your avatar doesn't seem very Byzantine. Just an observation.
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« Reply #22 on: February 17, 2010, 09:44:15 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html



you mean Fathers like Tertullian who exclaimed, "What has Athens to do with Jersualem?" even though the Three Hierarchs, to name only a few, thought that there was much to learn from '"non-orthodox persons"?

I suggest you read St Justin Martyr.  Truth is truth no matter who preaches it. 
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« Reply #23 on: February 17, 2010, 10:33:03 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html


Paul quoted pagans (1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 1:12). Oh snap! Better cut those passages out. After you've done that, here is some reading material from St. Basil the Great (if you don't want to read it all, just read the first three sections).
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« Reply #24 on: February 17, 2010, 11:08:25 PM »

Why are we trying to get information from a non-orthodox person?

There is no true knowledge in this person.

What ever happened to listening to the Church Fathers?

Or are the times which have been foretold by St Paul coming into practice?

2Tim. 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Tim. 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Look to the Church Fathers for your answers, everyone:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

Your avatar doesn't seem very Byzantine. Just an observation.

laugh  laugh  laugh
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« Reply #25 on: February 17, 2010, 11:11:01 PM »

I did start this thread just to show a snippet about suffering that John Wesley had written that spoke to me and thought might be of benefit to readers of this forum, and put it in the Orthodox-Protestant discussion section because I'm a Protestant speaking mostly to Orthodox. The post about baptism was an extremely cursory response to a question raised about Wesley's view of regeneration and baptism. I'm sure his view changed over time and has much more nuance than I have the capacity to lay out in this format.

Maybe the discussion on baptism should be broken off into another thread. I would be interested in understanding the Orthodox view of baptism and regeneration. Is it the view of the Church that regeneration happens at baptism and chrismation? Is it possible that baptism has no effect on a person if, for whatever reason, they are not sincere when they experience this sacrament? 

Still feeling a pull toward Orthodoxy, but encouraged in knowing that John Wesley isn't too far off the mark. I still feel that if it wasn't for the fact that I am an ordained elder pastoring a local church, I would have already begun working with the local Greek Orthodox priest toward chrismation. Having been ordained, and having these responsibilities for the church and my family, I don't have the courage to let all of this go. The priests at the Greek church I visit and a friend of mine who is Orthodox are praying for me. I'm being patient and waiting on the Lord to place me where I need to be, if it is different from where I am. Thank you for everyone's posts.
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Tags: Wesley suffering John Wesley 
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