Susanna Wesley on Predestination

, posted by SEA

The following is from a letter written by Susanna Wesley to her son John. This quotation has been taken from John Kirk, The Mother of the Wesleys: A Biography (London: Henry James Tresidder, 1864), 284-86. Explanatory comments by Kirk have been encased in brackets:

I have often wondered that men should be so vain as to amuse themselves by searching into the decrees of God which no human wit can fathom and do not rather employ their time and powers in working out their salvation and making their own calling and election sure Such studies tend more to confound than inform the understanding and young people had best let them alone But since I find you have some scruples concerning our article of predestination I will tell you my thoughts of the matter and if they satisfy not you may desire your father’s direction who is surely better qualified for a casuist than me The doctrine of predestination as maintained by rigid Calvinists is very shocking and ought utterly to be abhorred because it charges the most holy God with being the author of sin And I think you reason very well and justly against it for it is certainly inconsistent with the justice and goodness of God to lay any man under either a physical or moral necessity of committing sin and then punish him for doing it Far be this from the Lord! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? I do firmly believe that God from all eternity hath elected some to everlasting life but then I humbly conceive that this election is founded in His foreknowledge according to that in the eighth of Romans Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son moreover whom He did predestinate them He also called and whom He called them He also justified and whom He justified them He also glorified [After a brief running exposition of what she regarded as the meaning of this passage she continues] This is the sum of what I believe concerning predestination which I think is agreeable to the analogy of faith since it does in no wise derogate from the glory of God’s free grace nor impair the liberty of man Nor can it with more reason be supposed that the prescience of God is the cause that so many finally perish than that our knowing the sun will rise to morrow is the cause of its rising And once more she writes I cannot recollect the passages you mention but believing you do the author I positively aver that he is extremely in the wrong in that impious not to say blasphemous assertion that God by an irresistible decree hath determined any man to be miserable even in this life His intentions as Himself are holy and just and good and all the miseries incident to men here or hereafter spring from themselves [These in substance were the same views on this long controverted question which John Wesley himself adopted and defended.]