John Wesley Quotes

John Wesley, 1703 – 1791

Born: 28 June [O.S. 17 June] 1703, Epworth, Lincolnshire, England
Died: 2 March 1791, London, England, UK

Wesley’s father Samuel was the rector at Epworth, a position of more substance than the word means today. The parish rectory burned in 1709, his rescue was seen as a sign and he prepared for the ministry. Taught first by his mother, he attended London’s Charterhouse School for six years and then went to Christ Church, Oxford. There he was one of a group that maintained a “methodical” schedule of religious study and activity, they were called the Holy Club. He was ordained a deacon in 1725 and a priest the next year. Samuel died in 1735, the next year John and his brother Charles set sail as missionaries to the Georgia colony. He was impressed by the behavior of the Moravians on board the ship, when a storm snapped the mast of their ship the English panicked while the Moravians prayed and sang hymns. In Georgia he broke off a relationship with a woman who had sailed on the same ship, she accused him of breaking his commitment to marry her, she married another man, Wesley refused to give her communion, and the couple sued; Wesley had to actually escape the colony.

Back at London he began to worship and study with Moravians there, from them he learned of Martin Luther’s work, notably the concept of justification by faith based on the book of Romans. Many of the “Methodists” began to preach outdoors, often to large and receptive crowds, some without ordination and all without license. They were attacked (sometimes physically) as being a threat to social institutions. The group began to ordain ministers outside the Church of England, Wesley having decided in 1746 that the apostolic succession was a “fable”. His Holy Club had regularly visited prisoners, he later became an advocate of prison reform and was a vocal abolitionist. Although he never left the Anglican church, he had provided the theology and the organization for Methodism. He kept a journal, wrote several books and many articles, and a large number of his sermons were preserved despite his statement that he burned all of them every seven years because he felt he could do better. He preached up to a week before his death, which apparently was simply from old age.

John Wesley quotes:

A constant attention to the work which God entrusts us with is a mark of solid piety.
    John Wesley

As long as you feel your own weakness and helplessness, you will find help from above.
    John Wesley

As the most dangerous winds may enter at little openings, so the devil never enters more dangerously than by little unobserved incidents, which seem to be nothing, yet insensibly open the heart to great temptations.
    John Wesley

As to matters of dress, I would recommend one never to be first in the fashion nor the last out of it.
    John Wesley

Best of it all is, God is with us.
    John Wesley – Last words

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.
    John Wesley – “The Nature of Enthusiasm” Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)

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.
    John Wesley – “The Nature of Enthusiasm” Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)

But beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge.
    John Wesley – Letter to Joseph Benson (7 November 1768)

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.
    John Wesley

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.
    John Wesley – Not his words, but a paraphrase he would have agreed with

Every one, though born of God in an instant, yet undoubtedly grows by slow degrees.
    John Wesley – Letter (27 June 1760)

Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergyman or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth.
    John Wesley

God does not love men that are inconstant, nor good works that are intermitted. Nothing is pleasing to him, but what has a resemblance of his own immutability.
    John Wesley

God frequently conceals the part which his children have in the conversion of other souls. Yet one may boldly say, that person who long groans before him for the conversion of another, whenever that soul is converted to God, is one of the chief causes of it.
    John Wesley

God is so great that He communicates greatness to the least thing that is done for His service.
    John Wesley

God is so great that He communicates greatness to the least thing that is done for His service.

John Wesley
Having, First gained all you can and, Secondly saved all you can, Then give all you can.

John Wesley
I can’t think that when God sent us into the world He had irreversibly decreed that we should be perpetually miserable in it.

John Wesley
I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.

John Wesley

Letter to Charles Wesley
I desired as many as could to join together in fasting and prayer, that God would restore the spirit of love and of a sound mind to the poor deluded rebels in America.

John Wesley

Journal entry (1 August 1777)
I hang out no false colors; but show you all I am, all I intend, all I do. I am a member of the Church of England; but I love good men of every Church. My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.

John Wesley
I look on all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.

John Wesley

Journal (11 June 1739)
I observed, “Love is the fulfilling of the law, the end of the commandment.” It is not only “the first and great” command, but all the commandments in one. “Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise,” they are all comprised in this one word, love.

John Wesley

quoting his own sermon on “The Circumsicion of the Heart” (1 January 1733) in A Plain Account Of Christian Perfection (1777 edition)
I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.

John Wesley
In all cases, the Church is to be judged by the Scripture, not the Scripture by the Church.

John Wesley

Popery Calmly Considered (1779)
It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.

John Wesley
It is impossible, in the nature of things, that wickedness can consist with happiness.

John Wesley
Let it be observed, that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly this is a duty, not a sin. Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness.

John Wesley
My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small.

John Wesley
Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.

John Wesley

Journal (24 July 1776)

Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God.

John Wesley
No circumstances can make it necessary for a man to burst in sunder all the ties of humanity.

John Wesley

Thoughts Upon Slavery (1774)
Oh, let none think his labor is lost because the fruit does not immediately appear.

John Wesley
Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.

John Wesley
One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbour; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us.

John Wesley
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.

John Wesley

Letter to John Benson (5 October 1770)
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.

John Wesley

Reply to a letter signed “Philosophaster” in London Magazine (1775)
Sour godliness is the devil’s religion.

John Wesley
The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.

John Wesley
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.

John Wesley

“The Character of a Methodist” (1739)
The general rule of interpreting Scripture is this: The literal sense of every text is to be taken, if it be not contrary to some other texts. But in that case, the obscure text is to be interpreted by those which speak more plainly.

John Wesley

Letter to Samuel Furly (10 May, 1755)
The greater the share the people have in government, the less liberty, civil or religious, does a nation enjoy.

John Wesley
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!

John Wesley

Letter to Samuel Furley (25 Janurary 1762)
The righteousness of Christ is necessary to entitle us to Heaven, personal holiness to qualify us for it.

John Wesley
The world never made anyone happy, and it is certain it never will. But God will.

John Wesley

There is no such thing as a solitary Christian.

John Wesley
Think not the bigotry of another is any excuse for your own.

John Wesley

“A Caution against Bigotry” Sermons on Several Occasions (1771)
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.

John Wesley
Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.

John Wesley

Letter to his brother Joseph (1768)
To continual watchfulness and prayer ought to be added continual employment. For grace fills a vacuum as well as nature; and the devil fills whatever God does not fill.

John Wesley
To lay up treasure on earth is as plainly forbidden by our Master as adultery and murder.

John Wesley
Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!

John Wesley
Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable.

John Wesley
We are always open to instruction, willing to be wiser every day than we were before, and to change whatever we can change for the better.

John Wesley
When I devoted to God my ease, my time, my fortune, my life, I did not except my reputation.

John Wesley
When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.

John Wesley
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 me.

John Wesley
When Poetry thus keeps its place as the handmaiden of piety, it shall attain not a poor perishable wreath, but a crown that fadeth not away.

John Wesley

Preface to A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (ca. 1779)
Wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore I do not see how it is possible in the nature of things for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.

John Wesley
Wherever the work of our Lord is to be carried on, that is my place for today. And we live only for today. It is not our part to take thought for tomorrow.

John Wesley

Wine, one of the noblest cordials in nature.

John Wesley
You have nothing to do but to save souls; therefore spend and be spent in this work.

John Wesley

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