19 August 2007

Fearing Sin, Desiring God: The 18th Century Methodists

The Methodist preachers in eighteenth-century England were reacting to a dry nominalism that largely placed a higher priority on fineness of preaching rather than simple preaching straight to the heart. Many of these upstart Methodists were criticized, however, for their lack of advanced education. Wesley rightly defended them. At one point he declared,

"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell, and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth."

--Cited in Iain Murray, Wesley and Men Who Followed, 87

Here are a few other gems from Murray's book, which I was re-perusing this afternoon. All those cited were Methodist preachers who followed in Wesley's wake.

Wesley "wanted strong, bright Christians - men and women for whom God 'is their one desire, their one delight, and they are continually happy in him.'" (Wesley quote inside a Murray quote) (93)

"A little religion can never keep us happy. Slow singing, long prayers, long meetings [signify] a low state of grace." --William Bramwell (121)

"Long praying is, in general, both a symptom and a cause of spiritual deadness." --David Stoner (121)

On working hard, and resting, in pastoral ministry: "Know your chain, and determine to go to its length. But also determine not to break it." --William Bramwell, to a young preacher (128)

"O how I sink, yea, I lie before the Lord! Everything that I say or do, preaching, praying, etc, etc, seems to me to be nothing compared to what it should be. Here I am, here I live, wondering that even the Lord himself should notice me for one moment." --William Bramwell, in a letter to a friend (131)

"I saw Jesus - Jesus the Saviour of sinners - Jesus the Saviour for me. I saw Him as the gift of the love of God for me. Jesus loved me, and gave Himself for me, and I knew - yes, I knew - that God had forgiven me all my sins; and my soul was filled with gladness and I wept for joy." --Gideon Ouseley (147). As a young man Ouseley had been accidentally shot in the face in a pub and lost the sight in his right eye and horribly disfigured the rest of his life.

"Have a horror of sinking into a tattling, twaddling, trivial sort of man, talking much and achieving nothing. Steer clear of a young man's rock, self-importance. Walk humbly with God. Acts of self-condemnation are, next to acts of faith in Christ, the most profitable of devotional exercises. I have grown best and done best when most frequent in them." --Thomas Collins, in his personal resolutions (212)

"Fisherman seek after fish; but we find those who are called fishers of men waiting for the fish to seek after them." --Gideon Ouseley (173)


Eric Ortlund said...

Thanks, Dane; these are great comments. I appreciate your reproducing them. I'll have to read that book! -Eric

SHIRK said...

I appreciate a good Wesleyan comment every now and again, but can I get some love for my man Joseph Bellamy sometime soon?
Best Regards,
Matt Shirkey