John Wesley quotes

John Wesley photo
72   8

John Wesley

Birthdate: 17. June 1703
Date of death: 2. March 1791
Other names: 約翰衛斯理

John Wesley was an English Anglican cleric and theologian who, with his brother Charles and fellow cleric George Whitefield, founded Methodism.

Educated at Charterhouse School and Christ Church, Oxford, Wesley was elected a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1726 and ordained a priest two years later. He led the "Holy Club", a society formed for the purpose of study and the pursuit of a devout Christian life; it had been founded by his brother Charles, and counted George Whitefield among its members. After an unsuccessful ministry of two years at Savannah in the Georgia Colony, Wesley returned to London and joined a religious society led by Moravian Christians. On 24 May 1738 he experienced what has come to be called his evangelical conversion, when he felt his "heart strangely warmed". He subsequently departed from the Moravians, beginning his own ministry.

A key step in the development of Wesley's ministry was, like Whitefield, to travel and preach outdoors. In contrast to Whitefield's Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Arminian doctrines that dominated the Church of England at the time. Moving across Great Britain and Ireland, he helped form and organise small Christian groups that developed intensive and personal accountability, discipleship and religious instruction. Most importantly, he appointed itinerant, unordained evangelists to travel and preach as he did and to care for these groups of people. Under Wesley's direction, Methodists became leaders in many social issues of the day, including prison reform and the abolition of slavery.

Although he was not a systematic theologian, Wesley argued for the notion of Christian perfection and against Calvinism—and, in particular, against its doctrine of predestination. He held that, in this life, Christians could achieve a state where the love of God "reigned supreme in their hearts", giving them outward holiness. His evangelicalism, firmly grounded in sacramental theology, maintained that means of grace were the manner by which God sanctifies and transforms the believer, encouraging people to experience Jesus Christ personally.

Throughout his life, Wesley remained within the established Church of England, insisting that the Methodist movement lay well within its tradition. In his early ministry, Wesley was barred from preaching in many parish churches and the Methodists were persecuted; he later became widely respected and, by the end of his life, had been described as "the best loved man in England". In 2002, he was placed at number 50 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

Photo: George Romney / Public domain

„Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 37 "The Nature of Enthusiasm"
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: Beware you are not a fiery, persecuting enthusiast. Do not imagine that God has called you (just contrary to the spirit of Him you style your Master) to destroy men’s lives, and not to save them. Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think. Use no constraint in matters of religion. Even those who are farthest out of the way never compel to come in by any other means than reason, truth, and love.

„If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 38 "A Caution against Bigotry http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.v.xxxviii.html
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission. Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
I need add but one caution: Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own. It is not impossible, that one who casts out devils himself, may yet forbid you so to do. You may observe, this is the very case mentioned in the text. The Apostles forbade another to do what they did themselves. But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil. Another’s not observing the direction of our Lord, is no reason why you should neglect it. Nay, but let him have all the bigotry to himself. If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him.

„Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.“

—  John Wesley

Variant Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.
In the sermon titled "The Use of Money" Wesley said, "Employ whatever God has entrusted you with in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree . . . to all men." This sermon is in the collection titled "Wesley's Standard Sermons." They are called "standard" because all Methodist preachers were instructed to read them and use them in interpreting the Christian faith.
Disputed
Variant: Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.
Source: According to Richard Heitzenrater, Professor of Church History and Wesleyan Studies at Duke Divinity School, there is no evidence that John Wesley ever wrote the rule that is attributed to him.

„When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man.“

—  John Wesley

General sources
Context: Permit me, sir, to give you one piece of advice. Be not so positive; especially with regard to things which are neither easy nor necessary to be determined. When I was young I was sure of everything. In a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before. At present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to man.

Reply to a letter signed "Philosophaster" addressed to him in the London Magazine of 1774, in London Magazine 1775, p. 26

„Beware, lastly, of imagining you shall obtain the end without using the means conducive to it.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 37 "The Nature of Enthusiasm"
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: Beware, lastly, of imagining you shall obtain the end without using the means conducive to it. God can give the end without any means at all; but you have no reason to think He will. Therefore constantly and carefully use all those means which He has appointed to be the ordinary channels of His grace. Use every means which either reason or Scripture recommends, as conducive (through the free love of God in Christ) either to the obtaining or increasing any of the gifts of God. Thus expect a daily growth in that pure and holy religion which the world always did, and always will, call “enthusiasm;” but which, to all who are saved from real enthusiasm, from merely nominal Christianity, is “the wisdom of God, and the power of God;” the glorious image of the Most High; “righteousness and peace;” a “fountain of living water, springing up into everlasting life!”

„But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.“

—  John Wesley

"The Character of a Methodist" (1739); in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley in Ten Volumes (1826), Volume IV, p. 407; A portion of this is commonly quoted as "Think and let think.".
General sources
Context: The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of Religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever therefore imagines, that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe indeed, that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule, both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a; Methodist.

„I deny that villany is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be necessary for any reasonable creature to violate all the laws of justice, mercy, and truth. No circumstances can make it necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity.“

—  John Wesley

Thoughts Upon Slavery (1774)
Context: I deny that villany is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be necessary for any reasonable creature to violate all the laws of justice, mercy, and truth. No circumstances can make it necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity. It can never be necessary for a rational being to sink himself below a brute. A man can be under no necessity of degrading himself into a wolf. The absurdity of the supposition is so glaring, that one would wonder any one can help seeing it.

„In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 38 "A Caution against Bigotry http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.v.xxxviii.html
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission. Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
I need add but one caution: Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own. It is not impossible, that one who casts out devils himself, may yet forbid you so to do. You may observe, this is the very case mentioned in the text. The Apostles forbade another to do what they did themselves. But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil. Another’s not observing the direction of our Lord, is no reason why you should neglect it. Nay, but let him have all the bigotry to himself. If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him.

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 38 "A Caution against Bigotry http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.v.xxxviii.html
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission. Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
I need add but one caution: Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own. It is not impossible, that one who casts out devils himself, may yet forbid you so to do. You may observe, this is the very case mentioned in the text. The Apostles forbade another to do what they did themselves. But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil. Another’s not observing the direction of our Lord, is no reason why you should neglect it. Nay, but let him have all the bigotry to himself. If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him.

„If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 38 "A Caution against Bigotry http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.v.xxxviii.html
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: In order to examine ourselves thoroughly, let the case be proposed in the strongest manner. What, if I were to see a Papist, an Arian, a Socinian casting out devils? If I did, I could not forbid even him, without convicting myself of bigotry. Yea, if it could be supposed that I should see a Jew, a Deist, or a Turk, doing the same, were I to forbid him either directly or indirectly, I should be no better than a bigot still.
O stand clear of this! But be not content with not forbidding any that casts out devils. It is well to go thus far; but do not stop here. If you will avoid all bigotry, go on. In every instance of this kind, whatever the instrument be, acknowledge the finger of God. And not only acknowledge, but rejoice in his work, and praise his name with thanksgiving. Encourage whomsoever God is pleased to employ, to give himself wholly up thereto. Speak well of him wheresoever you are; defend his character and his mission. Enlarge, as far as you can, his sphere of action; show him all kindness in word and deed; and cease not to cry to God in his behalf, that he may save both himself and them that hear him.
I need add but one caution: Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own. It is not impossible, that one who casts out devils himself, may yet forbid you so to do. You may observe, this is the very case mentioned in the text. The Apostles forbade another to do what they did themselves. But beware of retorting. It is not your part to return evil for evil. Another’s not observing the direction of our Lord, is no reason why you should neglect it. Nay, but let him have all the bigotry to himself. If he forbid you, do not you forbid him. Rather labour, and watch, and pray the more, to confirm your love toward him. If he speak all manner of evil of you, speak all manner of good (that is true) of him.

„They no doubt clearly discern all our words and actions, if not all our thoughts too“

—  John Wesley

Letter to Mary Bishop, an important Methodist "Class Meeting" leader, https://books.google.com/books?id=E-iMVOU6PhYC&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=%22one+of+his+leading+women+class+leaders,%22&source=bl&ots=TjalEPj1rz&sig=MGwiThaIzWLfs6AWUzta-aZNBUk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX3oyws6_TAhVHRyYKHbRvCv8Q6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=%22one%20of%20his%20leading%20women%20class%20leaders%2C%22&f=false (12 June 1773), in The works of the Rev. John Wesley, Seven Volumes, (1853), Carlton & Phillips, New York, vol. VII, p. 164. https://books.google.com/books?id=P4QsAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA164&dq=It+has+in+all+ages+been+allowed+that+the+communion+of+saints+extends+to+those+in+paradise&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjejuPcrq_TAhWG0iYKHefIDYwQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=It%20has%20in%20all%20ages%20been%20allowed%20that%20the%20communion%20of%20saints%20extends%20to%20those%20in%20paradise&f=false
General sources
Context: It has in all ages been allowed that the communion of saints extends to those in paradise as well as those upon earth as they are all one body united under one Head. And "Can death’s interposing tide / Spirits one in Christ divide?" But it is difficult to say either what kind or what degree of union may be between them. It is not improbable their fellowship with us is far more sensible than ours with them. Suppose any of them are present, they are hid from our eyes, but we are not hid from their sight. They no doubt clearly discern all our words and actions, if not all our thoughts too; for it is hard to think these walls of flesh and blood can intercept the view of an angelic being. But we have in general only a faint and indistinct perception of their presence, unless in some peculiar instances, where it may answer some gracious ends of Divine Providence. Then it may please God to permit that they should be perceptible, either by some of our outward senses or by an internal sense for which human language has not any name. But I suppose this is not a common blessing. I have known but few instances of it. To keep up constant and close communion with God is the most likely means to obtain this also.

„The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of Religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point.“

—  John Wesley

"The Character of a Methodist" (1739); in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley in Ten Volumes (1826), Volume IV, p. 407; A portion of this is commonly quoted as "Think and let think.".
General sources
Context: The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort. His assenting to this or that scheme of Religion, his embracing any particular set of notions, his espousing the judgment of one man or of another, are all quite wide of the point. Whosoever therefore imagines, that a Methodist is a man of such or such an opinion, is grossly ignorant of the whole affair; he mistakes the truth totally. We believe indeed, that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and herein we are distinguished from Jews, Turks, and Infidels. We believe the written word of God to be the only and sufficient rule, both of Christian faith and practice; and herein we are fundamentally distinguished from those of the Romish church. We believe Christ to be the eternal, supreme God; and herein we are distinguished from the Socinians and Arians. But as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think. So that whatsoever they are, whether right or wrong, they are no distinguishing marks of a; Methodist.

„Are you a man? Then you should have an human heart.“

—  John Wesley

Thoughts Upon Slavery (1774)
Context: Are you a man? Then you should have an human heart. But have you indeed? What is your heart made of? Is there no such principle as Compassion there? Do you never feel another's pain? Have you no Sympathy? No sense of human woe? No pity for the miserable? When you saw the flowing eyes, the heaving breasts, or the bleeding sides and tortured limbs of your fellow-creatures, was you a stone, or a brute? Did you look upon them with the eyes of a tiger? When you squeezed the agonizing creatures down in the ship, or when you threw their poor mangled remains into the sea, had you no relenting? Did not one tear drop from your eye, one sigh escape from your breast? Do you feel no relenting now? If you do not, you must go on, till the measure of your iniquities is full. Then will the Great GOD deal with You, as you have dealt with them, and require all their blood at your hands.

„Passion and prejudice govern the world; only under the name of reason.“

—  John Wesley

Letter to John Benson (5 October 1770); published in Wesley's Select Letters (1837), p. 207
General sources
Context: Passion and prejudice govern the world; only under the name of reason. It is our part, by religion and reason joined, to counteract them all we can.

„It has in all ages been allowed that the communion of saints extends to those in paradise as well as those upon earth as they are all one body united under one Head.“

—  John Wesley

Letter to Mary Bishop, an important Methodist "Class Meeting" leader, https://books.google.com/books?id=E-iMVOU6PhYC&pg=PA33&lpg=PA33&dq=%22one+of+his+leading+women+class+leaders,%22&source=bl&ots=TjalEPj1rz&sig=MGwiThaIzWLfs6AWUzta-aZNBUk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX3oyws6_TAhVHRyYKHbRvCv8Q6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=%22one%20of%20his%20leading%20women%20class%20leaders%2C%22&f=false (12 June 1773), in The works of the Rev. John Wesley, Seven Volumes, (1853), Carlton & Phillips, New York, vol. VII, p. 164. https://books.google.com/books?id=P4QsAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA164&dq=It+has+in+all+ages+been+allowed+that+the+communion+of+saints+extends+to+those+in+paradise&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjejuPcrq_TAhWG0iYKHefIDYwQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=It%20has%20in%20all%20ages%20been%20allowed%20that%20the%20communion%20of%20saints%20extends%20to%20those%20in%20paradise&f=false
General sources
Context: It has in all ages been allowed that the communion of saints extends to those in paradise as well as those upon earth as they are all one body united under one Head. And "Can death’s interposing tide / Spirits one in Christ divide?" But it is difficult to say either what kind or what degree of union may be between them. It is not improbable their fellowship with us is far more sensible than ours with them. Suppose any of them are present, they are hid from our eyes, but we are not hid from their sight. They no doubt clearly discern all our words and actions, if not all our thoughts too; for it is hard to think these walls of flesh and blood can intercept the view of an angelic being. But we have in general only a faint and indistinct perception of their presence, unless in some peculiar instances, where it may answer some gracious ends of Divine Providence. Then it may please God to permit that they should be perceptible, either by some of our outward senses or by an internal sense for which human language has not any name. But I suppose this is not a common blessing. I have known but few instances of it. To keep up constant and close communion with God is the most likely means to obtain this also.

„Beware you are not a fiery, persecuting enthusiast.“

—  John Wesley

Sermon 37 "The Nature of Enthusiasm"
Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
Context: Beware you are not a fiery, persecuting enthusiast. Do not imagine that God has called you (just contrary to the spirit of Him you style your Master) to destroy men’s lives, and not to save them. Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think. Use no constraint in matters of religion. Even those who are farthest out of the way never compel to come in by any other means than reason, truth, and love.

„The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities.“

—  John Wesley

Letter to Reverend Samuel Furley (25 Janurary 1762), Published in The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, M. A., Founder of the Methodists (1872) by Luke Tyerman, p. 451.
General sources
Context: The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities. I exact more from myself, and less from others. Go thou and do likewise!

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

Similar authors

Blaise Pascal photo
Blaise Pascal145
French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Chri…
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori photo
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori2
Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musici…
Teresa of Ávila photo
Teresa of Ávila55
Roman Catholic saint
John Amos Comenius photo
John Amos Comenius12
Czech teacher, educator, philosopher and writer
Immanuel Kant photo
Immanuel Kant198
German philosopher
Jonathan Swift photo
Jonathan Swift141
Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet
Martin Luther photo
Martin Luther208
seminal figure in Protestant Reformation
Voltaire photo
Voltaire163
French writer, historian, and philosopher
Thomas Paine photo
Thomas Paine256
English and American political activist
Isaac Newton photo
Isaac Newton171
British physicist and mathematician and founder of modern c…
Today anniversaries
Heinz Guderian photo
Heinz Guderian15
German general 1888 - 1954
Ajahn Chah photo
Ajahn Chah7
thai Buddhist monk 1918 - 1992
John Wesley photo
John Wesley72
Christian theologian 1703 - 1791
Joseph Addison photo
Joseph Addison226
politician, writer and playwright 1672 - 1719
Another 68 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Blaise Pascal photo
Blaise Pascal145
French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Chri…
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori photo
Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori2
Italian Catholic bishop, spiritual writer, composer, musici…
Teresa of Ávila photo
Teresa of Ávila55
Roman Catholic saint
John Amos Comenius photo
John Amos Comenius12
Czech teacher, educator, philosopher and writer
Immanuel Kant photo
Immanuel Kant198
German philosopher