Mark K. Olson, “The Doctrine of Justification in the Early Wesley”

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Cowman Lecture, 2021

Seoul Theological University, South Korea

Abstract: The doctrine of justification is usually associated with John Wesley after his evangelical conversion in 1738. Few people know what Wesley believed about justification before that year. This article explores Wesley’s early doctrine of justification form his childhood up to his mission to Georgia in 1735-1737.

To watch the taped lecture on the University YouTube page, follow this link: 제19회 카우만기념강좌 “존웨슬리의 성결론” 제2강 초기웨슬리의 칭의교리 – 마크 올슨(Mark Olson) 박사 [서울신학대학교/OMS/현대기독교역사연구소] – YouTube

[To view the footnotes on this page, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Clicking on the hyperlinked footnotes will take you off site to the notes in the original article location.]


The doctrine of justification is nearly always associated with the post-1738 Wesley by scholars and historians.[1] The reason is simple, in 1738 Wesley became an evangelical by adopting the Protestant Reformation’s message of justification by faith alone. It was this gospel message that informed Wesley’s conversion at Aldersgate and became a staple in his evangelical preaching and teaching from that point forward. This is evident in Wesley’s writings.

What has not received sufficient attention is that Wesley already had a doctrine of justification before 1738. As we will see, he first learned about justification as a youth and it was an essential part of his soteriology during his time at Oxford (1730-35) and in Georgia (1735-1737). In this lecture we will explore the early Wesley’s doctrine of justification, identifying primary sources and explaining its central tenets. Although space in this lecture does not allow for a study of its influence on his doctrine of righteousness beyond 1738, students of Wesley will nevertheless see connections. The place to begin is with Wesley’s Anglican context.

Wesley’s Anglican Context

The religious milieu of Wesley’s upbringing was in the high church tradition of the Church of England. Both of his parents, Samuel (1662-1735) and Susanna (1669-1742), conformed from Dissent to the Church of England during the late seventeenth-century Anglican renewal and became devout high churchmen in their convictions.[2] Wesley acknowledged his high church upbringing in later years to the Earl of Dartmouth, “I am an High Churchman, the son of an High Churchman, bred up from my childhood in the highest notions of passive obedience and non-resistance.”[3] On another occasion Wesley explained he had been raised in the high church tradition to “love and reverence” the scriptures, the church fathers, and the Church of England, including “all her doctrines” and “Liturgy.”[4]

In keeping with the historic faith of the church catholic that reached back to Augustine, the Church of England taught that justifying and regenerating grace is granted in the sacrament of baptism. The baptismal liturgy for infants defined the sacrament as “the mystical washing away of sin” to “sanctify with the Holy Ghost; that he/she,being delivered from thy [God’s] wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church.”[5] After the child was baptized the priest would declare the “child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ’s Church” and has become God’s “own child by adoption.”[6] The same language and themes are found in the baptismal liturgy for those of “riper years.”[7] So, the Established Church taught that the gifts of justification, new birth, adoption, and union with Christ are initially granted in the sacrament of baptism.

For high church Anglicans, like the Wesleys, justification involved two distinct moments, the initial gift of forgiveness at baptism and a final public declaration at the Last Judgment. In between was the work of regeneration and sanctification. Known as the doctrine of double justification, the high church ordo salutis could be outlined as follows: initial justification (baptism)—sanctification—final justification (Last Judgment)—eternal glory.[8] In this ordo faith and good works were understood not as accruing merit, but as fulfilling the conditions of gospel salvation, with assurance grounded on a rational deduction of fulfilling these conditions.[9] It was in reference to final justification that high church Anglicans claimed that sanctification precedes justification. Jeffrey Chamberlain explains their rationale, “Since justification is not completed until it is determined that a person has met the conditions of faith and works, it could be said that sanctification preceded justification. That is, a person has to be made holy before his justification is complete and final.”[10] Since the sacrament of communion confers sanctifying grace to believers, it too was seen by high churchmen as essential to maintaining a state of justification in this life.

In summary, Anglican high church soteriology in the eighteenth century held a sacramental view of justification and the Christian life that was basically Augustinian, and it was this viewpoint that was instilled in the young Wesley by his parents and education at the Charterhouse and Oxford.

Taylor and Law

Beginning in 1725 Wesley’s interest turned to the Anglican holy living tradition and this produced a life-altering spiritual awakening. Of the many authors he read, two stand out as representative and influential to his doctrine of justification: Jeremy Taylor (d. 1667) and William Law (d. 1761). Both were Anglican high churchmen, yet each stressed a distinct emphasis that supplied important concepts to Wesley’s early understanding of righteousness. Wesley read several of Taylor’s writings but the one that engaged his attention the most was The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and Holy Dying.[11] The book is best described as a discipleship manual in which Taylor advocates a “rule and method” approach to the Christian life. Richard Heitzenrater explains that Wesley adopted this “distinctive approach” during his spiritual awakening in 1725 and over the next several years this method became the defining mark of Oxford Methodism.[12] Taylor’s gospel stressed evangelical repentance, holy living, and the conditionality of salvation within the Anglican ordo salutis. One of Taylor’s fullest statements on justification in Holy Living and Holy Dying is found in the section on repentance:

“[God] changes also upon man’s repentance, that he alters his decrees, revokes his sentence, cancels the bills of accusation, and throws the records of shame and sorrow from the court of heaven, and lifts up the sinner from the grave to life, from his prison to a throne, from hell and the guilt of eternal torture to heaven, and to a title to never-ceasing felicities.”[13]

This quotation shows that Taylor understood justification to include a cluster of blessings, with the central idea that it alters a person’s standing before God. However, contrary to standard Reformed theology, he did not believe these blessings were fully completed in this life. As did other high church Anglicans, Taylor was Arminian and held a progressive view of repentance in the Christian life. It begins in baptism, continues through life, and is finished at death (Anglican ordo salutis). Since repentance is a condition for forgiveness and is progressive through life, Taylor concluded that pardon is also partial and progressive through life. To illustrate, he pointed to Israel when time and again God forgave their sin of idolatry. In each instance, forgiveness applied to past commissions of idolatry.[14] When Israel committed idolatry again, God visited upon them punishment that required fresh pardon. In the same way, evangelical forgiveness remains partial and progressive through life. God forgives when sin is forsaken, but future sin requires future pardon. A second related point is that the gift of pardon plays an essential role in the Christian’s sanctification. Taylor held that through the gift of pardon God effectually imparts sanctifying grace and deliverance from sin. Evangelical forgiveness therefore does not consist merely of a “secret sentence, a word, or a record,” as the Calvinists taught, but effects a “state of change” that ultimately prepares a Christian for final justification. In the end, Taylor presented a high church Arminian alternative to the Puritan view that justification is complete and finished at the beginning of the Christian life.

Taylor’s explication of justification had an immense influence on Wesley. Holy Living and Holy Dying was instrumental to Wesley’s spiritual awakening in 1725 and Taylor’s method of “rule and exercise” set the direction for Wesley’s religious pursuits and the Oxford Methodist program of holy living. Initially, Wesley questioned Taylor’s concept of progressive pardon having grown up believing that through the sacrament of communion his “preceding sins were ipso facto forgiven.”[15] On this point he misunderstood Taylor, who also believed the sacrament confers pardon and sanctifying grace.[16] But by 1730 Wesley would commend Taylor’s association of forgiveness with sanctification and confess it represented one of the clearest explanations of pardon he had come across.[17] Holy living was now firmly wedded to the early Wesley’s doctrine of justification.

From his diary we learn that Wesley was reading William Law’s A Serious Call to a Holy and Devout Life (p. 1729)by December 1730. Two years later he perused Law’s prior work A Practical Treatise upon Christian Perfection (p. 1726).[18] Law’s influence on Wesley was immense over the next several years, to the point that Wesley sought his counsel on spiritual matters and he even tailored his ministry after Law’s principles.[19] One of those principles was to subsume justification in the new birth and sanctification to focus solely on a believer’s inward renewal in holiness. Law considered Christ’s death as a “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice” that ended the Old Testament sacrificial system and “fully reconciles God to accept us upon the terms of the new covenant.”[20] What those “terms” are is seen in Law’s comments on the baptismal covenant:

“No sooner are we baptized, but we are to consider ourselves as new and holy persons, that are entered upon a new state of things, that are devoted to God, and have renounced all, to be fellow-heirs with Christ, and members of his kingdom.”[21]

According to Law, the Christian life does not consist merely of performing religious duties but involves a life that is wholly devoted to God.[22] This led to his next point:

“Whenever we yield ourselves up to the pleasures, profits, and honours of this life, that we turn apostates, break our covenant with God, and go back from the express conditions, on which we were admitted into the communion of Christ’s church.”[23]

With this one statement Law declared baptized Christians to have lost their salvation when they turn to worldly pleasures.  To be saved these nominal believers had to renew their baptismal vow of full devotion evidenced by self-denial and renunciation of the world. This rededication or single intention Law called the “new birth,” becoming a “new creature,” and a “conversion of the heart to God.”[24] Those converted were true Christians, pardoned and accepted, and on the path of renewal in the image of God.

Law’s impact on Wesley can be seen in two areas. First, Law connects justification and the new birth to conversion. As a result, Wesley reinterpreted his spiritual journey to assert that he had “sinned away” his baptismal regeneration as a child.[25] He now considered his spiritual awakening in 1725 as his conversion and the moment of his justification and new birth. Although Wesley’s views of gospel justification will change again in 1738, Law’s influence was instrumental in preparing him for the Moravian message of free grace. Second, Law led Wesley to subsume justification in the new birth and sanctification. Years later Wesley recounted that during his time at Oxford he “confounded [justification] with sanctification” and held “confused” notions about forgiveness.[26] Law’s gospel of full devotion inspired Wesley to see inward holiness as the “one thing needful.”[27] Therefore, gaining inward righteousness practically absorbed all his attention, as is evident in his Oxford sermons.

Wesley’s Early Sermons

The sermons serve as the primary source for the early Wesley’s theology of salvation and the Christian life. The Bicentennial Edition contains seventeen sermons from the twelve-year span (1725-1737). In these sermons the focal point of righteousness is inward, on developing godly and holy character, and not on the objective righteousness of justification. This concentrated interest in the interior work of the Spirit reflects the impact of holy living divines, like Taylor and Law.

Even though Wesley’s focus in these sermons is on inward righteousness, in one sermon he did express his current doctrine of justification. In the landmark sermon, The Circumcision of the Heart (1733), Wesley distinguished between present and final justification in the preamble. In this life a “true follower of Christ . . . is in a state of acceptance with God.”[28] The present tense (“is”) conveys that he was referring to a believer’s current standing before God. That is, they are already in a “state of acceptance.” Wesley then explains the believer’s “acceptance” is not conditioned on anything external, like baptism or “any other outward form,” but on a “right state of soul.” Law’s influence is evident in these comments. Wesley proceeds to explain in section one that it is by faith that believers see their calling is to glorify God by offering themselves “entirely ‘unto God, as those that are alive from the dead.’”[29] Thus, believers are “born of God” and “now do, through [God’s] grace, the things which are acceptable in his sight.”[30] Moreover, faith does not leave the Christian hopeless, for it gives a “joyous prospect of that ‘crown of glory’ which is ‘reserved in heaven.’”[31] So, faith and hope lead to love, in which “every affection, and thought, and word, and work” terminates in God, who is the “sole end as well as source” of the Christian’s “being.”[32] Wesley here links present justification—believer’s current acceptance—to faith, assurance, new birth, and holy living. Since saving faith produces a holy life—a life that is acceptable to God—he could say that believers are justified by faith. In this way Wesley expressed a mainstream high church understanding of justification by faith.

After discussing present justification Wesley turns to final justification. The Last Judgment is when the “true follower of Christ” will receive God’s public declaration of approval. Quoting Matthew 25:23 (“Well done, good and faithful servant!”), Wesley encouraged believers to “be content to wait for thy applause till the day of thy Lord’s appearing” when everyone receives their “praise from God” before the “great assembly of men and angels.”[33] Here, typical Anglican expressions and concepts are employed to describe final justification. As scripture abundantly teaches, this final declaration by God is conditioned upon good works as well as on faith.[34] Towards the end of the sermon Wesley repeated the Anglican position that faith is the “foundation of good works” and that the Holy Spirit is the “inspirer and perfecter both of our faith and works.”[35] Insightful at this point is Wesley’s appeal to the economic Trinity to explicate his doctrine of justification. Throughout the sermon the Father is the source and end of redemption, the Son purchases redemption by his atoning death, and the Spirit applies the benefits of redemption to believers for their renewal in the divine image. So central was this Trinitarian soteriology to Wesley’s early theological vision that it left an indelible mark on his doctrine of justification. To explain this further, we turn to his devotional writings.

Collection of Forms of Prayer

Around 1730 Wesley began to compile prayers and psalms for personal use in a notebook, which was common practice in Anglican piety.[36] The psalms came from the BCP and the prayers from Anglican divines. The prayer manual became a primary source for Wesley’s first publication in late 1733, A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week.[37] The Collection was designed for his students and fellow Oxford Methodists, and over the years nine editions were produced.[38] One feature that stands out in the Collection ishow the economic Trinity effects our restoration in the imago Dei, including our justification before God.

The opening prayer of the Collection sets the Trinitarian agenda for the entire work, “Glory be to thee, O holy, undivided Trinity, for jointly concurring in the great work of our redemption, and restoring us again to the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”[39] Here, Wesley suggests there is a “perichoretic coactivity” in that the three divine persons interpenetrate each other’s redemptive activity in our renewal.[40] Although our redemption is the work of the one “undivided Trinity,” the Collection follows the pattern set by the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds and assigns roles to the three divine persons: Father as Creator, Son as Redeemer, and Holy Spirit as Sanctifier. A closer look at these roles offers insights into the early Wesley’s doctrine of justification.

As the Sovereign God, the Father provides for our justification.[41] He also serves as the primary authority in the pardon of sin, for nearly every petition for forgiveness in the Collection is addressed to the Father.[42] Moreover, this authority pertains to final justification. For it will be the Father who grants “merciful acceptance in the last day, through the merits of thy blessed Son.”[43] That day will certainly be “dreadful,” yet believers will be shown “mercy” by the Father through the “mediation and satisfaction of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ.”[44] So, within the economic Trinity it is the prerogative of the Father to pardon sin and at the Final Judgment to grant access into the “everlasting kingdom.”[45]

Whereas the cross receives little attention in Wesley’s sermons, the atonement emerges as central to his doctrine of justification in the Collection and manuscript prayer manual.[46] The Son offered a “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world” whereby he merited for his people mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, and entrance into the eternal kingdom.[47] In the prayer manual Wesley repeatedly refers to the cross in substitutionary terms that continuously procures or merits pardon and sanctifying grace through the sacrament of communion.[48] Presupposed in these comments is the Anglican doctrine of double justification. In the Friday morning prayers Wesley opens the meditation on the Redeemer’s life and passion by first offering praise to his divine personage, “O Saviour of the world, God of God, light of light, thou art the brightness of thy Father’s glory, the express image of his person . . . Be thou my light and peace.”[49] By beginning with Christ’s deity before contemplating the depths of his passion, Wesley suggests that the sufficiency of the atonement is grounded on the intrinsic worth of the Son’s divine person. In other words, the merit and value of Christ’s passion for our justification rests on who he is that poured out his life for our redemption.

The same prayer proceeds to a deeper consideration of the believer’s death to sin.[50] In the Wednesday prayer on mortification, Wesley includes a penetrating meditation on what it means to be “planted together with thee in the likeness of thy death” in order to be raised in the “likeness of thy resurrection.”[51] Participation in Christ’s death and resurrection puts to death the old life and imparts new life in Christ.[52]  The Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ’s passion and resurrection, enables believers to “utterly destroy the whole body of sin” so that they “no longer live to the desires of men” and instead pursue the “will of God.”[53] The Spirit of Christ within believers enable them to declare, “‘I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’” (Gal. 2:20).[54]

Wesley’s statements about a believer’s union with Christ signify that he rejected any notion of works righteousness. Instead, his soteriology was rooted in the Augustinian paradigm of salvation as a lifelong journey enabled by divine grace. Richard Heitzenrater summarized this aspect of Wesley’s soteriology during his Oxford period:

“Salvation is not a momentary event but involves a process of restoration and becoming holy, of cultivating the love of God in such a way as to draw closer to the goal of having the mind of Christ. The emphasis of the Christian life then was on sanctification as one pressed on, with the assistance of God’s grace, toward perfection in love and final justification.”[55]

Yet, there is more in the Collection to consider about Wesley’s doctrine of justification. As did other Anglican divines, he appealed to Romans 4:25 that links the believer’s justification to Christ’s resurrection. By ascending to the Father’s right hand, the Son perpetually intercedes to bring forgiveness and other covenant blessings to his people. Wesley explains that Christ’s advocacy is significant in two ways. First, as our merciful high priest believers can be assured of their pardon and acceptance by God. Second, and related to the first point, Christ’s exaltation assures his people of his presence in the sacrament of communion.[56] As a result, in the holy meal Christ dwells in his people and they in him.[57] From this union believers receive the “refreshing graces” of forgiveness and inward strength, which in turn furthers their sanctification and renewal in the imago Dei.[58] The sacrament therefore serves as a primary means for the maintenance of a state of justification for the Christian. For this reason, Wesley enjoined upon his followers to practice frequent communion, and even wrote a sermon at the time to encourage the practice.[59]

Turning to the Holy Spirit, whereas the Father’s role is to pardon sin and grant access to the eternal kingdom, and the Son’s role is to purchase redemption by his atonement and to perpetually plead his people’s cause before the Father, the Holy Spirit’s role is to apply these redemptive benefits to the lives of God’s people. Hence, all three persons of the “holy, undivided Trinity” are involved in our justification, which begins in baptism, continues in our sanctification, and is completed at the Last Judgment (Anglican ordo salutis). Fundamental to the Spirit’s role is his procession from the Father and the Son (the filioque). In the Collection Wesley used a variety of verbs to describe the Spirit’s salvific activity—enables, inspires, assists, breathes, guides, aides, comforts, assures, unifies, and sanctifies.[60] These internal actions bring the objective work of the Father and the Son to fruition in the lives of God’s people. As the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit effectually applies the justifying, redemptive work of the Father and the Son to the hearts of believers, effecting their recovery in the divine image. Thus, the Spirit’s role in the “perichoretic coactivity” of the economic Trinity is to internalize the promises and benefits of the new covenant established by the Father and mediated by the Son.

Closing Thoughts

More space has been devoted to the Collection because it spells out in sufficient detail the richness of Wesley’s early doctrine of justification. Wesley’s gospel was not shallow, nor did he consider salvation merited by good works. Firmly anchored in the Anglican high church tradition and its doctrine of double justification, Wesley held that grace empowers a believer’s renewal in righteousness and love, with eternal fellowship and happiness in God as the terminus ad quem—the final goal of the renewal process.

Early in life Wesley was nurtured in the Anglican view of sacramental justification that reached back to Augustine. This sacramental view held there are two definitive moments of justification for the believer: initial justification at baptism and final justification at the Last Judgment. In between these two moments the believer’s acceptance is maintained by the sacrament of communion and living a life of faithfulness to the gospel covenant. As we saw, justification in a narrow sense meant pardon and acceptance. In a broader sense, though, justification included membership in the new covenant, participation in the church as the Body of Christ, union with Christ, and access (title) to the eternal kingdom. The Anglican order of salvation (baptism–sanctification–final judgment–eternal glory) would continue to serve as the basic framework of Wesley’s soteriology throughout his life.

Likewise, the connection between justification and holy living finds its roots in Wesley’s early period. Beginning in 1725, Wesley came under the influence of Anglican holy living divines, like Jeremy Taylor and William Law, who opened Wesley’s eyes to see the necessity of inward holiness for renewal in the imago Dei. But this also meant that holy living is necessary for final justification at the Last Judgment. Although Wesley would later learn to distinguish between justification and sanctification, the conviction that inward holiness is necessary for final salvation became permanently rooted in Wesley’s soteriology at this time.

Lastly, Wesley’s early doctrine of justification finds its fullest expression in his devotional and sacramental writings. This is to be expected since he held a sacramental view of justification. It is in these writings that we learn that Wesley employed the economic Trinity to expound his doctrine of justification, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit having distinct roles for our pardon and redemption. The economic Trinity would continue to serve as the skeleton structure upon which Wesley would build his soteriology.[61] One of the best summaries of these roles and of Wesley’s early understanding of justification is found in the closing doxology of the Collection of Forms of Prayer:

“Now, to God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved;

to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood;

to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts,

be all love and all glory in time and to all eternity. Amen.”[62]

[1] For example, see two of the most popular studies in recent years: Kenneth J. Collins, The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007); Randy L. Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesley’s Practical Theology (Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1994).

[2] Brent S. Sirota, The Christian Monitors: The Church of England and the Age of Benevolence, 1680-1730 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 26-32.

[3] John Telford, ed. The Letters of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., 8 vols. (London: Epworth Press, 1931), 6:156.

[4] Farther Thoughts on Separation from the Church §1 (The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley, 34 vols. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984-Present, 9:538; hereafter, Works).

[5] The Book of Common Prayer, 1662 Edition (London: Everyman’s Library, 1999), 268, 270 (hereafter: BCP).

[6] BCP, 273.

[7] See BCP, 281-88.

[8] On the Anglican ordo salutis, see Mark K. Olson, “The New Birth in the Early Wesley,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 52-1 (2017), 79-99.

[9] Richard Lucas, Religious Perfection: Or a Third Part of the Enquiry after Happiness, 3rd edition (London: W. Innys and R. Manby, 1735; orig. 1685), 37-38, 61; S. Wesley, Pious Communicant, 207.

[10] Jeffery S. Chamberlain, “Moralism, Justification, and the Controversy over Methodism,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 44-4 (October 1993), 671.

[11] Originally published as two books in 1650 and 1651. By the eighteenth century they were combined into a single volume.

[12] Richard P. Heitzenrater, Mirror and Memory: Reflections on Early Methodism. Nashville: Kingswood Books, 1989, 69-77.

[13] Jeremy Taylor, Holy Living and Holy Dying: With Prayers Containing the Whole Duty of a Christian (New York: Cosmo Classics, 2007), 233-4.

[14] Taylor, Holy Living and Holy Dying, 239.

[15] Wesley, Letter, June 18, 1725 (Works, 25:170).

[16] Taylor, Holy Living and Holy Dying, 243-52.

[17] Wesley. Letters, February 28, 1730 (Works, 25:245).

[18] Wesley claims to have read Law several years earlier, in 1727-1728. His extant diary points to 1730 and 1732. On this point see the exchange between Frank Baker and Fredrick Hunter in the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society, vol. 37 (Oct. 1969, June 1970, Oct. 1970), 78-82, 143-50, 173-7. For Wesley’s remarks, see Journal, May 24, 1738 (Works, 18:244); The Principles of a Methodist §16 (Works, 9:56); A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, As Believed and Taught by the Rev. Mr. John Wesley, From the Year 1725 to 1765 §4 (Works, 13:137).

[19] Wesley, Letters, June 26, 1734, May 14, 1738 (Works, 25:386, 540).

[20] William Law, A Practical Treatise upon Christian Perfection (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001), 80.

[21] Law, Christian Perfection, 23.

[22] William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (Alachua: Bridge-Logos, 2008), 5.

[23] Law, Christian Perfection, 24.

[24] Law, Christian Perfection, 25-7, 35.

[25] Wesley, Journal, May 24, 1738 (Works, 18:243).

[26] Wesley, A Further Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion, Pt. I, VI.1, 1745 (Works,11:176).

[27] The phrase was a favorite of Wesley’s and is found in Law’s Christian Perfection, 37, 45.

[28] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” §3 (Works, 1:402).

[29] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” I.7, 8 (Works, 1:405-6).

[30] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” I.9 (Works, 1:406).

[31] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” I.9 (Works, 1:406).

[32] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” I.12 (Works, 1:408).

[33] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” §3 (Works, 1:402).

[34] NT teaches that final judgment will be according to works: Matt. 25:35-36, Acts 17:31, Rom. 2:1-16, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 2 Cor. 5:10, Rev. 20:12.

[35] Wesley, “The Circumcision of the Heart” II.4 (Works, 1:411).

[36] Randy L. Maddox, ed. “John Wesley’s Manuscript Prayer Manual, c. 1730-1734” (The Wesley Works Editorial Project-Online Resources, 2018;

[37] John Wesley, A Collection of Forms of Prayer for Every Day in the Week (Works, Jackson, 11:203-37; see preface for 6th ed. in Works, Jackson, 14:270-2).

[38] Frank Baker, A Union Catalogue of the Publications of John and Charles Wesley, 2nd ed. (Stone Mountain, GA 1991). See also, Richard Green, The Works of John and Charles Wesley: A Bibliography, 2nd ed. (London: Methodist Publishing House, 1906), 9. Fellow Oxford Methodist Benjamin Ingham mentions perusing the Collection in his diary. See Richard P. Heitzenrater, Dairy of an Oxford Methodist: Benjamin Ingham, 1733-1734 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1985), 105-6.

[39] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:203).

[40] Elmer M. Coyer, The Trinitarian Dimension of John Wesley’s Theology (Nashville: New Room Books, 2019), 81 n9.

[41] “Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification.” (Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 20).

[42] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer, (Works, Jackson, 11:205, 209, 210, 214, 221, 234); see also Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 16, 18, 23.

[43] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:225).

[44] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:218).

[45] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:228).

[46] Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 88-103.

[47] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:203, 215, 221, 223, 225, 228). One of the best summaries of the Early Wesley’s understanding of the atonement is Hammond, John Wesley in America, 41, 51-4.

[48] Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 88-103.

[49] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:228). Implicit in these remarks is the doctrine of eternal generation.

[50] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:229).

[51] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:222). The scripture text is Romans 6:5.

[52] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:222). Union with Christ is also stressed in the Prayer Manual (Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 90, 99).

[53]  In this prayer Wesley identifies the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (“thy Holy Spirit”). Implicit here is the filioque. It is the Spirit’s procession from the Son that makes him the Spirit of Christ and the agent of the Christian’s participation in Christ’s death and resurrection.

[54] [54] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:222).

[55] Heitzenrater, Mirror and Memory, 100.

[56] Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 20, 27, 40, 41, 42, 51, 55, 65.

[57] Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 88, 91.

[58] Maddox, “Wesley’s Prayer Manual,” 103.

[59] Wesley, The Duty of Constant Communion, 1732, pub. 1787 (Works, 3:427-39). The sermon is based on Robert Nelson’s Companion for the Festivals and Fasts of the Church of England . . . (1704).

[60] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:203, 204, 207, 209, 212, 218, 219, 222, 226, 230, 234, 235, 237).

[61] On this point see Coyer, The Trinitarian Dimension of John Wesley’s Theology.

[62] Wesley, Collection of Forms of Prayer (Works, Jackson, 11:237). This doxology is also found at the end of Wesley’s sermon “The Love of God,” written about three months before he published the Collection.

[This article was taken with permission from Mark K. Olson’s website where the original version can be found.]